We didn’t have a Memorial Day party at our house this year. Instead, my brother, husband, mum and I had a little vegetable planting party over the holiday weekend and we used the supplies typically left over from party planning to help our garden thrive.
The idea for reusing these items were brought to our family garden by my brother “seed boy". This green approach seems to fit perfectly together given that many gardeners wait until Memorial Day weekend to plant their warm weather crops.
Most people prepare for the first picnic of spring by cutting the lawn and packing ice-filled containers with beverages. You can transform, beverage cartons, grass clippings and the shirt you ruined by spilling barbeque sauce on it, into useful garden supplies. Here's how:
Some tender seedlings need a sun shade if they have not been hardened off properly. “12-pack beverage” cardboard works really well. My brother slices the rectangular boxes into cubes and places one around each sensitive plant. The baby still gets some mid-day sun, but doesn’t get blasted for the full 12 hours, giving it time to get used to its new hot habitat.
Mulch keeps weeds out and holds moisture in. We use grass clippings as mulch in our vegetable garden. Gardeners have differing opinions on whether to use them or not. You can weigh the pros and cons, but my brother and I have used the lawn discards every year with success. “Lawn left-over” mulch is free, it works and we can turn it back into soil later for compost.
Grass clippings generate a lot of heat, particularly if the grass has not dried out for several days. That heat helps kill the weeds buried underneath and makes it hard for new weeds to grow. Make sure to leave a 2” space all around the plant so your vegetable plants don’t go the way of the weeds.
Use a nice thick 3” layer everywhere – around plants and on pathways. Some believe this can hold in too much moisture, encouraging fungus and blight. If this summer turns out to be a wet one, you can spread it more thinly if you like.
Place flattened cardboard boxes down first in paths. This works even better keeping weeds at bay.
Be aware that if you use chemicals on your lawn and you recycle grass clippings, you are putting those chemicals in your vegetable garden.
Don’t use clippings from grass or weeds that have already gone to seed. You’ll get weeds and grass growing in your vegetable rows.
Repurpose your barbeque sauce or red wine ruined shirt as plant ties. Cut or tear the shirt into one inch wide strips that are at least 8-12 inches long. Loop and tie the shirt shred around the plant stem and a structure that helps hold it up: a stick, a stake, a fence or a cage. This will keep plants from bending at the weight of their produce.
Plaid cotton shirts are nice and gentle to plant stems and can look really pretty! My brother had the idea of using some of my dad’s old madras shirts that he used to wear every summer. Now we will think of him every time we pick a tomato, pepper or eggplant. That’s a nice Memorial.