I am cleaning out the junk drawer today. It is a little packed in there. I am trying to get my home organized and cleaned out before the fervor of gardening season begins. Because then I’m not gonna want to come in the house!
I am probably not going to throw away much in the junk drawer, just organize it. There are some things that a lot of folks would throw out that can be brilliantly reused on a homestead. Here are my top ten things you should never throw away!
#1 Twist ties– They come on bread, produce, and in every package of toys and small appliances, and you will want every last one of them this summer! Not only do twist ties make the very best cat toys, they have another use, training and holding plants up. Tie one loosely around a branch of a tomato plant and secure to the cage to help give it stability and to help it branch out more. Use for anything that trellises; tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and roses to name a few.
#2 Rubber bands– Also a desired cat toy, though they shouldn’t be swallowing them. When you have a nice fresh bundle of beets or collard greens in your hand, it is quite handy to reach in your apron pocket and grab a rubber band to hold the stems together.
#3 Clothes Pins– Well, this is a no-brainer, obviously we need it for our clothes line! But these gems also keep tops of flour bags closed. They can be used to label plants by pinning the marked paper to the side of a pot. (I have exciting news y’all might appreciate. I had to stop using a clothes line last year (after fifteen years) because a very large and rambunctious puppy moved in and used the hanging clothes as toys you could shred. I am having new areas of my yard fenced off this month and can start reusing the clothes line! That dryer just shrinks everything anyway.)
#4 Jars– Glass jars are always in use around here. Large glass juice jars get washed and refilled with water and placed downstairs in case of an emergency. Smaller glass jars and every sort of canning jar are used to hold odds and ends and dried herbs and teas and spices and coffee and seeds and more! The canning jars are obviously also used for canning. Nothing like opening fresh produce in February.
#5 Chop sticks– use these to stir oils and infused honeys. Use to label plants. Stake a small house plant. Use to eat Chinese food.
#6 Plastic baggies and produce bags– Every bag around here gets washed and reused a zillion times. We go months and months without buying sandwich bags or freezer bags. A produce bag can hold a half an onion in the fridge or three sandwiches for a picnic. Ziplock style bags can be reused many, many times.
#7 Wine corks– Use these for crafts (glue them together in a metal ring to make a trivet or build a birdhouse). My favorite use is to pile them into the bottoms of large pots for drainage when repotting plants.
#8 Salad containers– Plastic salad or deli containers with lids make perfect mini greenhouses to start seeds in.
#9 Nursery pots– You never know when you might want to pot up some of your aloes or need to move seedlings into larger containers.
#10 Twine and bits of rope and ribbon– Fix a fence, tie a plant to the cage, tie around cheesecloth to secure to mouth of jar, tie up your hair, or wrap a presen
In a canning jar, add a few inches of sand then a votive. When the votive melts just pop it out and add another candle in! You can melt down candles and remake them as well.
Other things we have done over the years:
Paint wine bottles with chalkboard paint and make cute little blackboards.
Use paper grocery bags, newspaper, and cardboard in the garden to suppress weeds. Cover with straw to hide.
Repaint old furniture to make new pieces!
Use old dinner plates to catch water under houseplants.
Use egg cartons as paint palettes. Or to start seeds.
Half of a pop or water bottle becomes a funnel. Or a cloche.
There are lots of ways to reuse and repurpose ordinary items!