Monday, April 13, 2015

Earth Month Ideas - Re-purposing Common Containers For Seed Starts

This  shop, to celebrate Earth Month, has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #NaturalGoodness #CollectiveBias

As the days grow longer and warmer, life here on the farm begins to really pick up. There is the sound of the tractors working in the fields, the chickens scratching in the yard, and children with cabin fever just itching to get outside to dig in the dirt.

Yes, it is time to begin breaking ground on our family garden and get our seeds planted. Despite living on a large fruit and vegetable farm, I want my kids involved in our own backyard garden. It is a great way to make them more mindful of their environment, the food they eat and how all of our choices are connected.

Just across from the house you will find the greenhouses with all the starts. It is fun to peek in and see the onions and watermelon sprouts begin to push through. Here in Oregon we still have a chance of a hard frost and the greenhouse gives us a chance to create optimal growing conditions for the new seedlings.

My husband's family has farmed this area for 4 generations, I hope my children will follow in his footsteps to become the fifth generation. I want my children to be eco-friendly and aware of the needs of the land, along with the crops grown here, so they can carry on the tradition of farming.

Much like making green choices in our lives, learning to be a farmer starts early.

My husband works hard to be the best steward of this land he can be. He uses crop rotation, drip irrigation and even keeps the machinery running for as long as possible to reduce his impact on the environment.

This Allis Chalmer's tractor had a life before our farm, but with regular maintenance and a little elbow grease, it isn't ready for the scrap pile yet.

In fact, a lot of farm work involves creativity and re-purposing. Parts and implements are re-used when possible or adapted to be more efficient.

Now, we drink a lot of coffee in our house. It might have something to do with the long hours involved with farm life. I hate that I throw all those coffee pods out after a single use. So I decided to give them a new life as seed plugs. They are the perfect size and already have a hole poked in the bottom for easy drainage!

Instead of buying myself new seed trays for planting our Summer garden seeds, I turned this tray of coffee pods into seed plugs.

Tips For Re-Purposing Coffee Pods
  • Remove the foil top and discard
  • Let the pods sit and dry out for 24 hours or more. Shaking out dry grounds is much easier
  • Compost the coffee grounds for garden mulch to use all Summer long
  • Pull the paper filter out of each pod and discard
  • Fill with seed mix or potting mix to support and nourish your seedlings
  • Plant seeds in the pods that have smaller root needs
After trying to shake out several wet coffee pods, I found letting them dry out ahead of time was much easier! And coffee grounds are great to add to your compost pile so don't waste them.

Once my tray was filled with empty coffee pods, we were ready to start planting.

There is just something about kids and dirt. Planting seeds is a yearly chore that my kids really look forward to.

Since our pods are small, I wanted to plant items that didn't require a lot of room for the roots. We finally decided on lettuce and salad mix. Another great idea would be succulent seeds. We plan to plant some of those next to make indoor container gardens in the playroom.

I love the sense of pride my children take in the food they grow. You could say this was a double win for our family. We didn't have to buy any seed trays for our garden, instead we used containers we already had on hand.

We were also able to plant a variety of lettuce and salad mix seeds so we will have to buy less of those packaged salad mixes this Spring and Summer, reducing our container waste.

There are so many ways to get the kids involved with this project. They helped me pick out the seeds, plant them, and every day after school they check on their seedlings' progress. Later this Spring they will also be involved with harvesting their heads of lettuce from the garden for dinner.

Seedlings thrive when they have the right temperature and humidity. We re-purposed these salad containers to hold the coffee pods in. There are small vent holes in the plastic, so they do a great job  keeping the soil moist for the seedlings.

These little greenhouses are a great way to re-use these packages.

Another way I am teaching my children to care for their environment is by making smart product choices. I love using the Tom's of Maine products with my family because they don't contain preservatives, artificial colors, flavors or fragrances.

We switched to Tom's of Maine toothpastes a few years ago and we all have our own favorite flavor. You might remember that we switched over to using the deodorant last year. This is a brand that fits my family well.

We have several of the Tom's of Maine products in our bathroom cabinet, but I picked up the Tom's of Maine Silly Strawberry™ Fluoride Toothpaste, Antiplaque & Whitening Peppermint Fluoride Free Toothpaste, Whole Care® Peppermint and Spearmint Fluoride Toothpaste, and Unisex Long Lasting Apricot Deodorant on my last trip to Walmart. You can find these products in the toothpaste aisle and deodorant aisle.

Grab a  $1.00 off any Tom's of Maine product purchase coupon to use on your next trip to Walmart. 

Happy Earth Month! Does your family have any special eco-friendly activities planned? Or what green choices have you made recently?
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