As Earth Day approaches, we renew our resolve to do something about our consumptive habits and the amount of trash we produce. Upcycling instead of trashing. Reducing our impact on our precious earth and its resources.
Here’s a garden hack with a four year timeline for upcycling empty milk cartons— repurposed as freezer containers and then repurposed again— for plant starts! One milk carton can serve you for at least four years! Let me show you how!
Wash and save those empty milk cartons! Cut off the top section that forms the peak of the carton and discard.
Remove the peak of the milk carton and cut down the sides 1/2 way.
Measure and cut 1/2-way down each of the four corners of the carton. Score at the halfway mark and fold the four flaps in, overlapping to form a cover. This makes a one-quart container. (If you prefer pint-sized, just cut further to 3/4 of the way down.)
Fill with blanched vegetables or fresh fruit and freeze! A stackable, no-wasted-space freezer container! We wash and reuse these freezer containers for three seasons.
Upcycled milk carton freezer containers at Prairie Road Organic
Then we upcycle them again! This time for plant starts!
Drill several drain holes in the bottom of the carton. Then simply cut off the flaps.
Removing flaps and drilling holes to upcycle freezer containers for plant starts.
Select two of the flaps— draw diagonal lines from one corner to the opposite corner and again on the other side to find the center of the flap. Now mark the half-way point of one side of the square; draw a line to the center and using a scissor, cut along the line. Repeat on the second flap. Slide the two cuts together to form an X-shaped divider.
Insert the divider into the carton. Now you have four sections in a quart-sized container for transplanting seedlings to grow-out your transplants.
Just as in the freezer, these cartons sit nicely side by side. Making efficient use of grow-light and greenhouse shelf space as they grow. (You'll need to give them increasing room as they continue to leaf out.)
Transplant plugs in upcycled milk carton seedling trays
When you're ready to transplant into your garden, simply interlace your fingers between the plants, tip the carton, gently squeeze opposite corners to dislodge and slide the four seedlings out of the carton. Carefully split them apart at the quarter sections and lay out your plugs for transplanting.
Transplanting plugs from upcycled milk carton seedling trays
There you have it! Turning trash into a multi-year resource—keeping your freezer nicely stack, organized and efficient. Then providing a cost effective, space efficient, upcycled-AGAIN container for your garden starts!
Having ultimately served as a seedling tray, the carton is well on its way to decomposition. It served a useful and extended life.
May your footprint be light and your garden abundant! Happy Earth Day!
Our best to you,