Friday, February 4, 2011

UPCYCLING on the brain!!

It must have been giving new life to all these old picture frames* that got me slightly obsessing over upcycling recently.
I've found myself second-guessing almost *anything* I'm throwing out!
(* Technically my Fill-A-Frame project isn't really upcycling, more like "fixing up" since I'm just either filling up existing frames that are already in good condition, or re-painting those that aren't in such good shape.)

First of all, you may ask, what's "upcycling"? Is it different from recycling? If so, how?
Upcycling is to giving new life to something that otherwise would have been thrown out- thrown out into the trash or the recycle bin, whichever. We've all heard reduce, reuse, recycle. Upcycling can be thought of simply as the reuse part of that.

You don't even have to reuse it for what it was originally intended. For example, you don't have to take an old plastic bottle (from soda or water) and fill it back up with something else to drink. You could cut it in half and make two little domes to put on top of seeds you've planted and are awaiting germination!

The difference with recycling is that the bottle would go to a processing plant where it would be melted down with other plastics and eventually formed into something else. (You could still recycle the bottle after using it for your seed-greenhouse, of course.)

Back in December I started learning about Winter Sowing. Have you heard of it? In a nutshell, you fill a container with dirt (make sure it has drainage holes or add your own), plant seeds in it (most times native seeds or plants that reseed themselves in your gardening zone work best), cover it with clear plastic (with holes in it), stick it outside, and at the appropriate time in Spring the seeds will figure out when to germinate and do so!! Then you can plant little clumps of the seedlings right in your garden. There's no worrying about wildlife eating them, there's no hardening off, there's no taking up a ton of room in every warm windowsill of your house.

Here is a whole page about it if you want to learn more!

Upcycling is HUGE in the winter sowing community! I have occasionally poked drainage holes into the bottom of a yogurt or margarine container to try and grow a plant big enough to be planted outside. I had no idea there was a whole cult of people who do it every year- sometimes with HUNDREDS of containers in every shape and size- to get their seeds started for their gardens. Amazing!


I've always had such terrible luck with seeds, even back when I had a greenhouse. I planted many many seeds and ended up with only a handful of plants to show for them- some lime green zinnias and okra and tomatoes. It was the hardening-off process that did them in, but with winter sowing the seedlings were born outside, so they're completely ready for the outdoors!

My collection of random seeds in my repurposed pottting station
I've started a few flats of seeds myself- so far, just 3.
A plastic tray from some edamame became a greenhouse for some Campion seeds.
A plastic tray from Ortega taco shells became a greenhouse for some Larkspur seeds.
A plastic tub (with holes already in the top and bottom!!) from grape tomatoes became a greenhouse for Black-Eyed-Susan seeds.
I've got 2 empty strawberry tubs to use, also with drainage and ventilation holes already in them. I plan to put Pink Coneflower in one and.... not sure about the other.

I have so many seeds saved up I don't even know what some of them are!

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