Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose

Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without. That was the family motto of a friend’s crew. They were of Scots descent, so you know they were tight. How tight were they? Well, they had a Willy’s Jeep, a ’55 Ford station wagon and a John Deere tractor. Among them, there was one good 6 volt battery. Dad took the Jeep with the good battery to work. Mom would say a prayer for the Ford when she set out for her errands. If it didn’t start, she’d assume God meant her to stay home or visit an ailing neighbor. True! The parents are gone now, but over 60 years later I still keep in touch with my friend. I frequently hear that motto.

He’s working on a solar project right now, with me checking his work by text and email. He invited me to come up to North Carolina this week to be there when he turns the project on. I told him I felt safer here in Florida!

Anyway, I have some Scots blood in me, too. I was at Home Depot a couple of weeks ago with the intent of buying some materials for raised bed gardening. OMG the price of wood! I thought about it for a minute and decided I could repurpose some things or use some of the lumber I had left over from building the barn back in ’87. Carpenter bees have been in it, so I don’t want to use it for structure. Then I had a better idea. I have about 200 bad solar roofing tiles I was going to use as inert roofing material, but they are just right for garden beds, too. Instead of buying lots of big lumber or landscaping timbers that might leach toxic treating chemicals into my veggies, these things are inert and only required 16′ of 2×2 lumber I already had to tie together a 6×6 bed. As time permits I will do some long skinny beds and composting beds, too, to save on potting soil. Deck screws hold the 2×2 to the panels and the corners are done with sheet rock screws.

Recycling Solar Panels for Gardening

I normally just plant potatoes. The deer won’t eat those, but they always manage to get anything above ground. This 6×6 bed is being planted as a 3 Sisters garden, like the Indians planted. The corn is already emerging. Soon I will plant the squash, which will spill overboard, and when the corn is tall I will plant the beans to climb the corn stalks. These 3 give a healthy blend of proteins and other dietary goodness.

The stack of timbers in the background is a tater bin. Those timbers are repurposed from the time we had a trailer collapse when overloaded with 100,000 lbs. of fertilizer. Hosting crop dusters means I get free fertilizer, but that incident was a bit much.

That leaves the deer, but it isn’t the end of repurposing. The solar shed and the west bank of ground-mounted panels give good protection on two sides. Some old farm gates from the bone yard have been brought into service. That leaves only a little bit of fencing that will be needed to keep the wily varmints out.

John is doing a little repurposing, too, but with live panels. He and I both have some oddball GE panels that are perfectly good, but in an odd format. He lives in a highrise and can’t go sticking panels to the condo walls or roof, but he is planning to mount them horizontally on the balcony rail. They’ll serve as a table during the social times and provide him with backup power during those post-storm outages we sometimes get here in Florida.

Moral of the story: think outside the box on how you use things in their prime and again in their afterlife.

–Neal