Archives for posts with tag: repurposing

I’ve been using an old plastic container, the kind in which plants from the nursery are potted (that’s how we came into possession of it), as a waste bucket.  It is a convenient place to toss weeds, pruned branches, rotted vegetables and other green waste from the garden.  It sits on the ground near the hose bib and next to the watering can and is a much easier target than the ravine beyond the pool fence.

I started this practice a few weeks ago and by today, the bucket was full.  So I walked it over to the refuse pile and flung its contents on top.  What I immediately noticed as the mass of organic matter plopped onto the pile was that the material at the bottom of the bucket, which had been kept moist by rain and warmed by the sun, had already started to decompose.  After less than a month, the green garden waste had become a dark brown, granular mass, well on its way to becoming rich organic soil.

In other words, my waste bucket had turned into a mini compost pile.  If I had let it bask in the sun much longer, I could probably have simply tipped it back into one of the planters to replenish the soil’s organic content.  Presumably, there is a little more to the process—balancing different materials, mixing them together, aerating the pile—but the experience showed me how simple the basic operation is.

Also, how magical the process is, almost like alchemy.  It is very encouraging and will motivate me to find a place where a pile of garden discards can be transformed into a useful soil amendment.

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Point of view can make all the difference.  Where one person might see something worthy only of the trash, another person will see a prize to be treasured.

Last fall, we used a hand-held gardening fork to help divide Siberian iris rhizomes (see September 15, 2012).  During the operation, which was quite physically demanding, the v-shaped bar which formed the outer tines of the fork broke off, leaving only the center tine connected to the handle.

As far as I was concerned, that was the end of the fork.  I tossed the v-shaped bar in the dumpster but, having packrat tendencies, returned the now one-tined fork (which some might consider a fork no more) to the bin with the rest of the hand tools.  There it has resided for the last eight months; I haven’t given it another thought since.

And I probably wouldn’t have thought about it again except that this spring has produced a bumper crop of dandelions.  They have popped up everywhere in dense clumps of intense yellow flowers which, despite an interim lawn mowing, have morphed into airy white seed heads.

As with other weeds, we leave the dandelions in the lawn alone.  They certainly do not merit the use of an herbicide (not even poison ivy does, actually; we just carefully pull it out) and, in general, are not worth bothering with at all.  Theoretically, we could eat their leaves (they are delicious raw or sautéed in bacon fat) and if they continue to spread, perhaps we will start harvesting them.

Dandelions in the ornamental gardens are another matter, however, and this is where a different point of view comes in.  Where I saw the garden fork as broken and functionless, Rachel saw it as a potential dandelion-removal tool.  Apparently, it resembles other weeding tools she has seen in catalogs or used in the past and she thought the broken fork might be perfect for the job.

This morning, Rachel put her hypothesis to the test.  The ground was soft and moist after yesterday’s rain, ideal for weeding.  She pressed the end of the fork into the soil, adjacent and parallel to a dandelion’s tap root, and pulled it upward while rotating it slightly.  The tool’s action released the root from the surrounding soil and she was able to pull the weed out entirely.  Success!

I could say that I knew the broken fork would come in handy one day but no, I did not foresee this.  Rachel gets all of the credit for repurposing the fork into an effective weeding tool that will probably get more use now than when it was a fork.

I wonder what other abandoned items I have in the workshop that she might be able to put back into service?