Five Great Uses for that Metal Trashcan You’ve Got Out Back

Trash cans aren’t just for trash anymore, kids. In the days of Rubbermaid, those small, charming silver trash cans seem to be a dying breed. But I like them for their distinct un-plastic-ness, and other people do too, since there’s a whole host of new things you can do with them:

Electric Meat Smoker—get instructions for how to fashion your own at http://www.cruftbox.com/cruft/docs/elecsmoker.html (I originally found this idea in Ready Made Magazine, but they don’t have their instructions posted online—it’s essentially the same as what’s listed at the above website).

Potato Barrel—yes, potatoes can be grown in containers. And the trash can is the perfect size for your balcony or fire escape. You can find instructions at http://www.ciscoe.com/archive/spuds.html .

Water Fountain—this would look great on an urban patio. All you need is a trash can, a five gallon bucket to fit inside (you’ll invert it on the bottom to provide a platform for your water pump) and a water fountain kit (which can be found at most home centers and hardware stores). Follow the instructions that come with your water fountain kit and voila, neat urban fountain.

Compost Bin—drill some holes in the cover for air flow and toss in the good stuff. You’ll have to manually turn the compost every few days or so, so a shovel or compost fork will be good to have around.

Soil Storage—this is why I want one. Since all of my plants are growing in container potting soil, I rotate it by season. At the end of summer growing season, I’ll empty all the containers into the can and mix in some compost, and let it sit through the winter. For winter plantings, I’ll use fresh potting mix, and then trade that out with the stuff in the bin when spring rolls around. This way I’ll always have a good supply of customized potting soil to work with.

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