When we see the first signs of spring we all get excited to start seed.…
Recycling old plastic containers is a win-win situation. I hate to see anything go to the trash or even the recycling bin if I can still make use of it. Recycling containers for indoor plants will teach you some things to look out for when choosing a container.
I have learned a couple of important lessons from my years of upcycling plant containers.
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Important things to remember when choosing indoor gardening container
Don’t leave the sides clear!
Using clear bottles or jugs is an easy convenient way to make a planter. There are certainly thousands of them around.
The most important…and destructive..thing I have learned is don’t leave the sides clear.
The problem is that the light, natural or artificial, will reach the deep parts of the soil. The light will encourage fungus to grow.
Some fungi are very beneficial to soil and some are plant killers!
Three groups of soil fungi
Decomposing fungi. These are beneficial fungi that break down woody organic materials in soil and compost.
Mutualists These fungi grow in and around plant roots. They help the plant absorb more water and nutrients while protecting them from some diseases.
Pathogens. These are the bad guys. They will actually feed on the living roots on the plant. Young roots will be destroyed and the plant will likely die due to an inability to absorb water and nutrients
Unfortunately, you can not control which types of fungi will grow. When you expose such a high percentage of the soil in your pot to light you greatly increase the chances of bad fungi.
An infestation of Fungus Gnats
The likelihood of higher fungi concentration in your soil when in a clear container will bring a much higher likelihood of an infestation of fungus gnats.
One additional thing to keep in mind
Best recycling code number for indoor container gardening
You should check the plastic recycling code to ensure that the container is made from food-grade plastic.
Some plastics can leach toxins into the soil. If you are growing food, using food grade plastic is essential. If you are growing house plants it is still good to use food grade. Any toxins released could hard your plants. Toxins can also harm those beneficial fungi that heathy soil need.
An easy way to check if your container is food safe simply know if it was originally a food container. For example, a milk carton is going to be food grade, a laundry soap container may not be a good choice.
What about mason jar or coke bottles for windowsill gardens?
I am a big fan of growing with hydroponics. That is the growing of plants in water.
The internet is full of pictures of these clear containers with plants growing in water.
I can assure you that starting cuttings in a clear container with water will work out fine….to a point.
this method will not work for long term growth. Plants will grow quite well in a hydroponic non-circulating system. However, One of the most important things about this type of system is that you need to keep the light away from the water. Sunlight will cause algae which will kill your plant.
Bottom line is that upcycled plastic containers can be a great way to live green and save money. Make sure you:
Cover, paint, tape or otherwise keep the light from getting to the area below the surface
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