Life on our home planet looks rather alien right now. Our sense of normalcy has been disrupted by the tiniest of creatures. And right now, like many of you, I find myself at home, newly unemployed, and a little shaken. But even with the stock markets in free fall, nature remains a constant and steadying force. Seedlings still grow towards the light. Hens still lay eggs. Flowers still bloom. And seedlings still outgrow their starter pots.
I didn’t plan this project just because of the recession, or because I’m tightening my own budget due to my recent change in income. I’ve been collecting cans for months with this project in mind, and I’m especially glad of that preparation given the current circumstances. But if you don’t have all the materials shown here, that’s ok! Exercise your creative muscles and think about the materials you do have, and what you could make with them. People make planters from juice cartons, milk jugs, origami newspapers, yogurt cups, and pretty much any container imaginable.
Step 1: Eat the soup, tomatoes, green beans, or whatever is inside of the can. Ideally, you would do this at your leisure. The point is not to eat 16 cans of whatever in one afternoon so you can make this project.
Step 2: Clean the cans in the dishwasher, or in whatever manner you usually clean your dishes. Smooth the cut edge of the can if it is sharp. I have a fancy can opener that cuts a blunt edge, so I didn’t need to take any further action on these cans. However, you could probably use a metal file or maybe even a sanding block to smooth them. Please be careful not to cut yourself on any sharp edges.
Step 3: Drill holes in the bottom of the cans. It is a good idea to wear protective gear during this step, like a dust mask, eye protection, and gloves. It may also be a good idea to clamp the can in place or brace it against something so it doesn’t run away from you when the drilling begins.
Step 4: Prepare your planting mix. Start with a neutral substrate, such as peat. Add a small amount of the worm castings if you have them, or whatever fertilizing ingredients you prefer to use on your plants. If you’re using the worm castings, aim for about 2-4 tablespoons per gallon of potting mix. A little goes a long way, and too much can overwhelm your delicate plants. If your potting mix is dry, rehydrate it before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Plant something in the cans! If you’re planting a seed, then fill the can almost to the top with soil mix. Pack it down gently, and then plant your seed according to the directions on the seed packet. If you’re transplanting a small plant, then start with just enough soil to cushion the plant inside the can. Place the plant inside, and gently fill in soil around the plant. I labeled mine simply with Sharpie on Masking Tape. Another option could be to make these recycled plant markers.
Step 6: Nurture your plant every day. And, enjoy!
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