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Plastic jugs can be converted into mini-gardens

Plastic jugs make inexpensive and easy-to-use "hot caps" for your vegetable seedlings. Remove the bottom inch of a plastic jug so that the sides are straight. Then cut around the jug below the handle, leaving a half-inch uncut piece under the handle as a hinge. Place the jug over a seedling, pushing it deep into the soil with the handle toward the prevailing wind. This reduces the chance of it blowing open.

The jug serves as a "hot cap" to guard against frost, a translucent shield to prevent sun-scald and a wind barrier. When the plant is well established, the top can be folded back during the day and flipped into place when needed at night. When all danger of frost is past, cut off the top at the hinge, leaving the bottom to provide a reservoir for watering.

Another garden use for plastic milk jugs - seep irrigation. Simply use a large nail to punch holes in the sides of a jug, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Bury the jug, leaving the neck protruding from the soil. Fill the jug with water (solutions of liquid fertilizer may be used to water and fertilize at the same time) and screw the cap on firmly. The water will gradually seep out, providing a slow, deep irrigation for surrounding plants.

As people are making plans for this year's garden, I want to mention something that is frequently overlooked. That is the date of the family vacation. Choose planting dates and varieties carefully so your garden won't be ready for a full harvest when you are out of town. General guidelines about maturity dates, etc. can be obtained at the County Extension Office, but for more exact information on a particular variety, one should check with the seed supplier.

Web posted on Thursday, April 12, 2007

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