Carol Stein grows it
Where I live, large rolling containers are replacing the green plastic recycling bins.
Rather than return the bins to the city (which doesnt really want them), Debbie and I plan to recycle them to grow vegetables.
The bins are 16 inches wide, 22 inches long and 16 inches deep, and already equipped with drainage holes.
Im planning to use my old bin for fall vegetables such as Swiss chard, kale, spinach, radishes or leaf lettuce. Not all at once, of course, but mixing together those that require the same irrigation and nutrients will make a compact and attractive container garden for the patio or deck.
Line the bottom of the bin with used dryer sheets or coffee filters to keep the soil from washing out of the drainage holes.
In January, I could grow a crop of green garden peas after sinking a lightweight metal trellis deep into the potting mix for the pea vines to climb. After the peas sprout, sprinkle a couple of handfuls of organic compost or composted poultry litter for added nutrients.
In the spring, grow root vegetables such as carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes or onions.
Always begin container gardens with fresh, fluffy soil mix that is specially formulated for containers. As the seasons pass and the crops change, follow the recommendations on the seed packets to adjust or amend the soil. After about a year, recycle the old soil mix into the compost pile and start over with fresh mix.
You can recycle other types of containers to keep them out of landfills. Think about plastic food containers, milk jugs, large metal cans, old boots or worn-out cooking pots. To prepare such items for planting, make sure they are clean and drill or punch drainage holes in the bottoms.
Debbie Moose cooks it
My new roll-out recycling container arrived recently, so Im ready to put my old green bin to work as Carol suggests.
I like the idea of leafy, growing things emerging from a recycling bin. But if the city logos disturb your backyard aesthetic, purchase spray paint suitable for plastic surfaces and follow the directions to cover the markings. Or let the kids go to town on the bin with markers that work on plastic.
This is a good chance for me to remind you that a little recycling in the kitchen can make your busy life easier.
Roast a couple of chickens on Sunday or whenever you have time, and they can be turned into meals for several days.
• Combine the cooked chicken with black beans and/or corn and the seasonings of your choice to roll up in tortillas as enchiladas.
• Stir it with cooked noodles, your favorite sauce (creamy or tomato) and some thawed frozen spinach (well-drained), add Parmesan cheese and bake.
• Shred the chicken into tossed salads, or combine it with mayo, onion and celery for creamy chicken salad.
• Spread the chicken on pizza dough with smoked Gouda cheese and caramelized onions.
Theres really no end to the uses for roast chicken. And dont forget to save the bones to make chicken broth. Combine them in a pot with water, onion, carrot and celery and simmer on low heat for three to four hours. Strain, season and use or freeze.
One of my favorite ways to recycle roast chicken is as chicken pie.
It requires minimal effort, and yet fills the kitchen with comfort-food aromas that are guaranteed to lift the spirits.
Reach freelance writers Debbie Moose and Carol Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a printable copy of the recipe, click the link: