Turn an Old Metal Pot into a Planter by Shannon L. Buck

By anitapeppers on morguefile.com(Previously published to Y! Contributor Network.)

Turn an Old Metal Pot into a Planter

Deep granny pots can sometimes be found in an attic, an antique shop or at a flea market. These are the speckled pots from yesteryear. Even if you can’t or won’t cook with one, a pot can be put to good use. Using a pot such as this as a planter will add a decorative, old-world look in your garden.

The pot needed for this project does not have to be in perfect condition. It can be banged up, and their can be rusted out holes in the bottom. The pot will be repurposed as a planter, until it is no longer usable.

What You Need

A pot
Safety glasses
Seeds or seedlings
Watering can

Preparing to Plant

Wash the pot in warm soapy water before using it as a planter. Scrub inside and out well, then wipe the entire thing down with a dry towel. Set the pot aside, upside down, to continue to dry thoroughly while you prepare to do the planting.

Get everything ready to begin the planting, placing what you need on your gardener’s desk so that everything will be within reach while you are working.

Put on the safety glasses and use the drill to create drainage holes after turning the pot upside down on the work surface. Drill holes at the bottom of the pot, as well as up the sides about 1 inch.

Doing the Planting

Place the pebbles from your gardener’s desk into the bottom of the pot, at a 1 to 2-inch depth, to provide extra drainage for the planter. Fill the rest of the pot with soil, up to 1-inch from the top. Level the soil out.

When planting seeds, use your finger to create indents on the soil up to ½ inch deep, depending on the seed packet instructions. Place the seeds into the indents, and cover with more soil. When planting seedlings, be sure to cover the root system with soil completely.

Setting Up the Planter

Take the planter outside and place it in the garden where you want the plant to grow, such as at the corner of a raised bed. Try placing it on a garden table or a porch step, if desired. Water the seeds or seedlings once it is placed where you want it.

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Green(er) Shopping Tips by Shannon L. Buck

dscn17391730.jpg(This article was originally published to Y! Contributor Network on July 8th, 2009. Being green(er) can save you money in some areas.)

Green(er) Shopping Tips

Healthier Shopping Tactics

In my effort to live a greener lifestyle, I have been changing many things. Converting to this new lifestyle can take some time, but I am working diligently at it. This article is about how I have changed my shopping habits to better reflect the lifestyle that I want to live.

The first thing that I did was purchase canvas bags for shopping. Most I found for a quarter at yard sales while on my daily walks, a couple were given to me, and I purchased a few new. Stores do not care if you use canvas bags from their own business, or from a different business.

If I happen to forget to bring my canvas bags shopping with me, I use the plastic bags as trash bags, or for sending things home with others. If I purchase only a few items during times when I forget to bring my canvas bags, I request that the items are not bagged at all.

While shopping, I find myself looking more and more at the way things are packaged. For instance, I pay $3.00-$4.00 for a loaf of 100% whole grain bread. There is a cheaper brand, but that brand sports a lot more plastic packaging. In order to be less wasteful, I buy the more expensive brand.

I have also been purchasing more organic food this year. For me, this is mostly seen in my fruit and vegetable choices at this time. I have started with the thinner skinned produce, as these organic choices that I am making are more expensive.

I cannot find juice in a glass jar any more, so I rarely ever buy any at all. Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier, anyway. I also opt for purchasing half-gallon sizes of my soy milk, even though it is cheaper to purchase two half-gallons at once. Why? Because, in order to get the discount, you have to purchase a two pack which comes with more packaging.

Purchasing food without the plastic is becoming increasingly hard. I would like to purchase organic eggs, but they come in plastic packaging. The regular egg cartons can be used to start plants, so I tend to stick with these at this time.

I did manage to find one store in my area from which I am able to purchase fruit cups in glass jars. The jars are being reused for all manner of things around here, and the fruit tastes far better than what comes in the plastic cups or the cans.

Rather than purchase cat food at Sam’s Club in the plastic buckets, I purchase another, healthier brand at Hannaford for much less money overall. This brand does not come packaged in plastic, and the cats like it better. I rarely ever purchase cat treats because my cats are convinced that, when we take a handful of food out of their food bag, it is treats. This saves money and packaging waste. I also do not generally purchase canned food for the cats.

Each time I visit the grocery store, which is not near as often as it used to be, I look for ways to be a greener shopper. This is important not only to me, but to our future as a society.

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In Search of Bleach Alternative by Shannon L. Buck

Photograph by Shannon L. Buck copyright 2015(This article was originally published to Y! Contributor Network on July 8th 2009.)

In Search of Bleach Alternative

A Healthier Cleaning Product for a Healthier You

Last year I would have went out and purchased regular bleach to whiten my clothing and other laundry items. This year, however, I am learning to live in a more environmentally friendly manner. I also need a bleaching agent that will not cause asthma attacks. I am now in search of a bleach alternative for those whites.

I have tried drying clothes outside in direct sunlight. Sunlight is a natural bleaching agent. This works for small or light stains, but not for anything too tough. I need something more.

I have noticed a few products online that I intend to try. My criteria for continued use of any product will be:

1. It will not set off an asthma attack when I open the container and/or use the product.

2. It is more environmentally friendly than regular bleach.

3. It does its job well.

Here are the possible options that I have come up with:


This product uses oxygen for de-staining and deodorizing clothing. Oxy-Boost also claims to be able to be used for other household cleaning jobs. Do not use this product on silk or wool.

Seventh Generation:

This company has an environmentally friendly version of bleach, with no fragrances or dyes. A great combination, and a product that I believe I can purchase locally. Seventh Generation does not test their products on animals.

Nature Bright:

This is a laundry booster and stain remover that claims to be biodegradable and natural, and without the bleach smell that gets my asthma going. Nature Bright can also be used to clean upholstery, which is a nice bonus. It does require the use of warm water, and I generally only use cold for the laundry.

There you have it. The products that I am choosing to test out. I will start with the Seventh Generation product, because it can be purchased locally. If I like it, that will be the end of my testing. If I don’t like it, I will move on to a different product.

The hope is that the Seventh Generation product will work well, so that I do not have to pay shipping and I am not asking for it to be shipped just for me.

NOTE: I am not recommending these products exactly, just pointing out there are options.

NOTE: I have not received any compensation from the companies or anyone else to mention these products.

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Using Less Water by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published on Y! Contributor Network on August 29th, 2009.)

Using Less Water

Saving Money and Precious Resources Around the House

Do you have to pay for your water use? I do. Even if I didn’t have to pay for it, I would still want to find as many ways as I could to save on water use. It is important not to be wasteful.

In this article, I am going to show you easy ways in which you can save water, and possibly money, in your every day life.

In the Bathroom:

1. Never run water while you are brushing your teeth or washing up. Get your toothbrush, hands or a washcloth wet, turn the water off, and then brush or scrub. When you are done, turn the water back on.

2. Limit your shower time. I can shower in about three minutes. I have very long thick hair, so it takes a while to wash my hair. I do not use conditioner on my hair. If I have to shave, I may take up to five minutes in the shower.

3. We flush a few times a day, when necessary, but not every single time we use the toilet. I swish the toilet every day to keep it from becoming stained.

In the Kitchen:

1. When I use the dishwasher, I use the shortest possible cycle for the job that needs to be done. I do not have a full-size dishwasher, I have a movable one.

2. I use two dishpans in the sink, one for wash water and one for rinse water.

In the Laundry Room:

1. I use the shortest wash cycle for everything, and have never had any cleanliness problems in doing so.

2. If an item needs to be soaked, I soak the whole load by running the water until it fills the washer, then pulling out the knob to stop the next cycle. I always add soap before adding water and clothes. I will let the load sit anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, depending on the stain. This gets out almost every stain that I come across without the need for a pre-treater.

For the Garden:

1. I reuse the rinse water for my dishes to water the house plants.

2. I use the water from cooking pastas and vegetables to water the gardens.

3. I keep buckets in drain-off spots around the trailer for garden use. This is the biggest money saver that I have in place. At some point I would like to have rain barrels set into place, but I will continue to use buckets until I can afford to switch.

4. I also use leftover water, tea and coffee from cups to water my house plants.

5. During the summer months, after working in the garden or walking, I will take a cool shower. I will only shower like this for a minute, just enough to cool off, and I always put a bucket under the shower head when I am not using soap. This water is also used in the garden.

As you can see, these are all simple ways in which anyone can save water and money during their every day lives. Water is another way in which savings can go a long way. Especially if you have to pay for its use like I do.

Transportation for a Healthier Planet by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published on Y! Contributor Network on April 29th, 2009. There are many ways to get from here-to-there, that are more frugal than driving.)

Transportation for a Healthier Planet

There are many modes of transportation out there. Some are better for the environment than others. I am going to be discussing the methods of transportation that will have the least impact on our air quality, as well as save us the most money. A few of these methods will also lead to a healthier lifestyle.


This is, by far, the method of transportation with the least environmental impact. It costs nothing more than a new pair of walking shoes every so often, and will save you the most money over time. It is also great exercise. Imagine losing weight, or maintaining your current weight, while running your errands.

I walk to most of my destinations, sometimes getting in as many as 5-9 miles in a day. More often, I walk between 2.5 and 5 miles. I am able to walk to the post office, four different convenience stores, Rite Aid, the library, two banks, five restaurants, and numerous other businesses. Most of my errands are run this way.


This will get you where you need to go faster than walking. I regularly see an older gentlemen skateboarding while I am out walking. This is not the best mode of transportation if you are doing any shopping, though.

Roller Blading or Roller Skating:

Two more excellent modes of transportation. Again, if you need to purchase a couple of bags of groceries this mode will not be your best bet.

The City Bus or The Subway:

If you must use fuel to get somewhere, this is your best bet. It is the cheapest way to go, and you are sharing in the fuel use of others.


If you must drive to your destination, you should consider carpooling. In this way, others help you pay for gas. You are also not wasting as much fuel because everyone is not taking a separate vehicle.

These alternative modes of transportation are great ways in which to save money and fuel. Some of them will also let you live a physically healthier lifestyle.


Different Levels of Green Gardening by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published on Y! Contributor Network on August 29th, 2009. Green gardening can be very frugal. I thought the gardeners reading the blog might enjoy this article.)

Different Levels of Green Gardening

Where are you in your green gardening efforts?

There are different levels of being green in all aspects of our lives. We are all at different stages in greening our homes, lifestyles, gardens and more. This is certainly true for me. I do not garden in a one-hundred percent green manner, but I am working on it. If you are like me, and are unable to afford to go hog wild with greening your gardening techniques, then I am here to offer some tips for your consideration.

The Dirt-Poor Way to a Greener Garden

This is how I started out. I had no real money to start with, so I did the best I could. I wanted to purchase organic produce rather than chemically infested produce, but was unable to. I decided that gardening was the best way to go.

  • I reused the seed starter trays from nurseries.
  • I found planters at yard sales, and were given many more.
  • I purchased cheap vegetable, fruit and herb seeds at the store.
  • I transplanted chives from my apartment garden to my new home.
  • While cleaning up the yard my first year here, I transplanted plants from my available space to garden plots.
  • I scavenged wood and nails to build garden beds.

The Not Quite Dirt-Poor Way to a Greener Garden

Now that I have been gardening for a few years, I have done more for my garden to make it greener. These things have been done in steps.

  • I decided to build a compost bin from five big, wooden pallets that I received for free. The fours sides are attached to each other, but the other pallet is just placed over the top so animals cannot get into the bin.
  • I purchased bags of good soil and organic compost to start the composting process, adding dead leaves, organic food scraps, grass clippings and other items as they were available.
  • I reuse all of the planters that I own, as well as the seed starters. These are mostly plastic at this time. As I purchase planters, I am choosing non-plastic alternatives.
  • I use the water from cooking vegetables, hard boiled eggs and pastas in my gardens.
  • I collect rainwater for garden use.
  • I purchase seedlings, started organically, from a nursery. I start seedlings myself when the nursery does not have what I want.

Future Plans for My Greener Garden

The future looks good on the gardening front. I am planning on doing some great things that will further green my gardening habits, as I learn to become more self-sufficient. Here are the plans that I have at this point.

  • I want to begin purchasing organic and/or open pollinated seeds.
  • Constructing a small greenhouse would be very beneficial.
  • I would like to learn more about vermiculture.
  • I want to design an extensive herb garden.
  • I want to design an extensive salad garden.
  • The purchase of a wheelbarrow would be very helpful.
  • I want to have two more compost bins.

There you have it. Greener ways to garden from a woman who is trying to incorporate a green lifestyle into her life on a budget.

What, you may ask, will I do with all of the plastic planters once I have replaced them with non-plastic counterparts? I will be giving them away to anyone who may want them. In this way, I will not be adding to the landfill problem.

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Trellis Plants by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published on Y! Contributor Network on October 24th, 2010. I thought the gardeners among you may enjoy it. Look for frugal ways to obtain the plants, such as cuttings from friends.)

Trellis Plants

Privacy is an important issue for many people. You may live on a busy street, or have neighbors who live too close to your home. Maybe you simply prefer solitude. Whatever the reason, a trellis with plants growing along it will help to separate your property from its surrounding area.


English Ivy is the most widely known, though there are other types as well. This evergreen will grow heavily along a trellis to give you the privacy desired. Ivy can be planted anywhere, from a moderately sunny location to a shady one. As long as you keep it pruned, it will not get out of control.

Clear the area along the trellis where you wish to plant, and work the soil to about 1 foot down. Add compost to the area, and work it into the existing soil. Place ivy transplants into holes a few inches deep and at least 1/2 foot apart. Train the ivy where you want it to go and, within a couple of years, the plants will intertwine with each other to cover the trellis.


The bougainvillea vine has different colors of flowers. You can choose from red, orange and pink, as well as other colors, depending on your landscaping needs. A perennial, this plant can be trained along a trellis to add privacy to your yard. It is a thorny plant, so care will need to be taken when training and pruning.

This vine will grow quite tall, as high as 30 feet. While training it along the trellis, tie the stems in place where desired. By doing this, the vine is kept from growing too tall. Plant these 6 inches from the trellis.


These should be planted about 6 inches from the trellis as seedlings. Mulch the area well if you live in a cold climate. When the vines are tall enough to do so, tie them to the trellis and begin training where you want it to go.

The flowers of the clematis may change color throughout their lifespan. This is an endearing quality for some people, and will add interest to the trellis. There are a wide variety of clematis plants that can be used, including bees jubilee which will grow up to 9 feet and flowers three months out of the year. This one has a pink and mauve, two-tone color.

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The American Ivy Society: The Care of Ivies – Ivy 101 http://www.ivy.org/about_bv8.htm

Yardener: Planting English Ivy http://yardener.com/YardenersPlantHelper/LandscapePlantFiles/VinesandIvy/EnglishIvy/PlantingEnglishIvy

Different Kinds of Plants: The Bougainvillea Vine http://www.different-kinds-of-plants.com/bougainvilleavine.html

Lawn and Garden Tips: A Garden Trellis Adds Just the Right Touch http://www.lawn-and-gardening-tips.com/garden-trellis.html

Neighborhood Cleanup for a Better Planet by Shannon L. Buck

Image By: alvimann at morguefile.com
Image By: alvimann at morguefile.com

(This article was originally published to Y! Contributor Network on August 29th, 2009.)

Neighborhood Cleanup for a Better Planet

Putting Trash in Its Rightful Place

I look around my small little town while walking each day. There is trash here and there. There are returnables here and there. It does not look very attractive. I live in Maine, and we have many tourists visiting year round. This, in-and-of-itself, should be enough reason for people to keep the towns and surrounding areas picked up. It is not, however.

I run a small childcare business from my home. The children and I are in the habit of visiting one of three parks on an almost daily basis. It is a lot of fun to run and play on the equipment, but there is always trash about. One day, we even found used condoms on the playground equipment.

My daycare children and I always leave these areas cleaner than we found them. We will clean an entire area before leaving a park. Sadly, when we return the next morning, the trash problem is just as bad. This surprises me, because people are throwing their trash on the ground when the trash cans are right next to them.

I collect returnables every day while walking. I bring them home and add them to the collection. Once in a while I bring them to the redemption center. I consider this my payment for cleaning up after people.

I’m not kidding. On one day I might come home with $1.00 in returnables. The next day, after taking the same route as the day before, I may have another .50 cents. I can easily earn at least $3.00 a week this way, sometimes more. Not a bad little sum.

If we want our children to “have a better future” we should not be allowing all of this littering. We need start paying attention to what is going on around us. Reporting the people whom we see deliberately littering. Whatever it takes clean up our neighborhoods. I agree that we shouldn’t have to clean up after others, but I want a healthier environment for my future grandchildren to grow up in.

Here, I will discuss some of the ways in which each of us can help to better our livable environments, no matter where we may reside.

1. When you go to a playground or park area, be sure to clean up after yourself before you leave. It is always a good idea to leave an area cleaner than it was when you arrived.

2. When cleaning up your own property, be sure to extend your cleaning efforts to the road and up to the property lines of all of your neighbors.

3. Businesses can do their part by 1) being sure to keep their business property cleaned up, 2) providing a recycling container outside for returnables, and 3) by providing trash receptacles outside.

4. Parks and recreation departments should be sure that activity areas are cleaned up each day.

5. Towns can be sure that there are plenty of trash cans and receptacles for returnables along sidewalks and other areas.

6. Recycling should be mandatory for everyone. Roadside pick up is a must. Certain people should not be able to get away with not recycling, and landlords should all be required to be sure that their tenants are recycling.

7. More effort in teaching children to reduce, reuse and recycle in school, at home and in their neighborhoods is another. For some reason, many children and teens are littering when out-and-about.

8. While walking, bring a trash bag and a reusable bag. The trash bag will obviously hold trash that you are nice enough to pick up. The reusable bag will hold the returnables that you find.

As you can see, there are many simple ways to care for our environments. This is important to our Earths’ future, and to societies’ future.

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Using Metal Plant Stands in the Garden by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published to Y! Contributor Network on November, 5th, 2010. I thought it might be useful to those of you who love to garden. This is a great way to recycle old metal plant stands.)

Using Metal Plant Stands in the Garden

Metal plant stands with tiers are used for a variety of purposes. Most often, these stands hold flowers or other plants that have been planted in some type of container. The stands can be used as decorative elements in a flower garden or as imperative parts of an herb or vegetable garden.

Choose sturdy plant stands for your gardening needs. Also look for stands that will match other elements of your garden, such as the furniture placed within the area. These stands can also bring some of your plants off the ground,creating height variations within the garden.

Seedling Growth

Use the tiered stand to allow seedlings to grow, while freeing up the space where the seed were started within the home. Bring the seedlings outside and place them on the tiers of a long rectangular stand. Cut the bottoms off from plastic milk jugs, and place these over the planters holding the seedlings after they have been watered. Transplant these into the ground once the soil is warm enough.

Growing Berries

Grow berries on a circular, two-tiered plant stand. Place strawberries in one pot, and blueberries in another. Keep these pruned so that they don’t grow too far out of the planters, but allow them to creep over the sides a little. Switch them up sometimes, changing what plant is on the top tier, and turn the pots so that all sides of each plant get light directly from the sun.

A Salad Garden

A three-tiered, rectangular plant stand a few feet wide will hold a complete salad garden. Place a potted tomato plant on the top tier, as well as a cucumber one. Plant herbs for your salads in a long rectangular shaped planter. Choose herbs such as chives and parsley. Put a long planter filled with lettuces and spinach on the third tier. Be sure that the lettuces chosen are the loose-leaf variety.

Pick the fruits of the tomatoes and cucumbers throughout the harvest season, and tear the leaves off the spinach and lettuces as needed. Snip parsley and chives to add to the salads, and remember that the blossoms on the chives are also edible.

An Herb Garden

Purchase a planter that folds out, creating steps of a sort. Place a planter of herbs on each step, or more than one planter on each if the shelves are wide enough, creating a tiered herb garden. Use herbs such as sage, rosemary and dill. Try chamomile and lavender as well. Snip the herbs when needed for different recipes.

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Recycling Wood Chips by Shannon L. Buck

(This article was originally published on Y! Contributor Network on April 13th, 2011.)

Recycling Wood Chips

10 Ways to Use the Excess

Wood chips are often abundant after work has been done on a property or land has been cleared. The chips are easier to dispose of than wood, and have many uses on the property and elsewhere. Whether the chips are yours, or you have to search them out, you will find plenty of ways to recycle them.


Wood chips may be placed into a compost heap and mixed in with the other materials. It is considered green material and is high in carbon, so you will have to be sure to add plenty of brown materials to the heap as well. Wood chips help with air circulation within the pile.


The chips may also be used to mulch various places in the yard. Walkways look more attractive when mulch is added. Treed areas look better as well, and the wood chips hold enough moisture that watering is not needed as often. This is beneficial in times of drought.


Wood chips are placed in plastic yard bags and lined up around the banking of a manufactured home to provide more insulation during the winter months. This is easier than banking the trailer with plastic and wood slats, and will help to prevent the pipes under the structure from freezing.

Pet Cages

Chips are often used as bedding in the cages of animals such as hamsters and rabbits. When rabbit cages are kept outside all winter, using the chips gives the animals a little extra insulation.

Bag to Sell

Wood chips can be bagged and sold to others. After purchasing, the customers will use the chips in a variety of ways. Try to sell two to three different size bags.

Cemetery Plots

Some cemetery plots do not have nice lawns. To make these areas look nice, you may wish to block in a plot with a wood frame and then fill these in with wood chips. Set up decorations, statues and other items in the areas as you normally would. Be sure this is allowed before starting the project.

Dog Beds

Use the chips to fill homemade dog beds, providing the bed with a layer of insulation. This works particularly well for dogs who sleep in an unheated, indoor area.


Create sachets to give as holiday gifts. Wood chips give off a woodsy fragrance that may be enhanced with essential oils if needed. Simply sew two pieces of fabric wrong sides together, and hem the opening. Fill two-thirds the way with chips, and tie closed with a ribbon.

When Snowing

Use the chips as traction. During stormy weather, spread wood chip products, rather than salt, on walkways and in the driveway.


Some people use the wood chips in their wood furnaces. This saves money on wood and other fuel costs.

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