Every year, billions of disposable chopsticks are manufactured in China and shipped across the globe to Asian restaurants and take-out joints. These chopsticks are made out of a variety of woods, including birch, spruce, cotton wood, and bamboo. While we in no way support deforestation in the name of stuffing our faces with dumplings and Vietnamese Crab Fried Rice, we do appreciate creative ways to reuse and recycle items that are otherwise discarded into the trashcan or at the very least stuffed into a kitchen junk drawer. So here are 14 ways to use your pile of chopsticks in the garden. And don’t worry: Any food residue that’s left on a chopstick isn’t significant enough to throw your soil’s chemical balance out of whack or affect the growth of your plants.
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Hone your chopstick skills and plant accurately by using chopsticks as your tool of choice when starting your terrarium, and even when you want to move things around after a few weeks. We especially like this elegant Pyramid Hanging Glass Terrarium shown here.
After you’ve planted your seeds, it’s time to make a label so you know where you planted your cherry tomatoes. The best marker is a good old flag: Use colored tape, cut it into a fun flag shape, wrap it around one end of a chopstick, and use a marker to note the name.
You’ve got seedlings coming up, and they’re getting tall! Insert a chopstick into the dirt next to the plant, and loosely tie a piece of twine or string around it to help keep the plant upright as it grows.
Going on vacation? Improper watering is one of the 10 Biggest Mistakes People Make In A Kitchen Herb Garden. Put your mind at ease by adding plant care markers for your house sitter. Write down simple care instructions for each plant on an index card, staple a chopstick to it, and stick it into the pot, right in front so there’s no missing it.
Want to make sure you plant your rows straight? Cut a piece of twine or string a few inches longer than your row will be. Tie each end to the tops of two chopsticks. Stick the chopsticks into the ground at either end of the proposed row so that the twine is suspended like a bridge. Using your shovel, carve into the ground directly below the twine, making a perfectly straight row.
Stick three chopsticks into a pot or individual seed starting cell, and fit a plastic bag overtop.
Your climbers are getting big in your house, but it’s too early to set them outside; or you planted your climbers outside, and some are too far away to reach a traditional trellis; or you’re just too cheap to buy a small trellis for your clematis. If you have a bunch of snow pea seedlings indoors that need support, fashion a small trellis using chopsticks and twine. Start by making two long supports for the vertical sides of the trellis. This can be accomplished with either two or three chopsticks, depending on how tall you need the trellis to be, tied end to end, with about an inch overlapping each other. Once you have your two long supports, you can start adding chopsticks on a diagonal to make an X pattern between the vertical supports. Alternatively, you can attach chopsticks perpendicular to the supports to create a ladder trellis. You should start these cross beams at least one-third of the way up the trellis, as the bottom will be below the soil level. Stick the trellis into the pot, or seed tray, and allow your babies to climb up it until you’re ready to take them outside to the big-boy Arched Vegetable Trellis. By the time you take them outside, they’re going to be overly attached to your mini trellis.
Don’t toss wet, dirty gloves on the floor or leave them hanging off a fence. First off, run them under a hose for a few seconds, getting as much dirt off as possible. If you don’t wash them once in a while, they’ll just get stiff, and that makes it easier to rip a hole the next time you use them. After washing, prop them up with a couple of chopsticks to ensure that all sides of the gloves (including the inside) get good air flow and dry properly without any mold growth.
If your overly friendly neighborhood cats are consistently using your garden as a giant litter box, it’s time to put up some defenses. If cats don’t have enough room to walk around and dig, they’re going to find a different area to do their business, so stick some chopsticks into the ground around the border of your garden with the pointier end up, approximately 6 inches apart from each other. While not actually hurting the cats, or really preventing them from entering, it will make them think twice. Bonus tip: Dip the chopsticks in hot sauce before putting them in the garden. Cats generally hate hot peppers. You’ll have to re-dip after rain fall, but hopefully by then the cats found a new litter box, and will leave your asparagus and spinach alone.
Assuming you know to take your dirty boots off before going into the house, your real challenge is cleaning them. Take a chopstick, and start poking it through the grooves that are caked in with dirt and mud. You’ll probably break a chopstick or two, but they do a really good job getting everything out.
Apparently, some fairies require privacy. So make it look like she’s a rustic DIY kind of fairy! Crack a few dozen chopsticks in half, stick the halves into the ground next to each other, alternating between pointy half and blunt half, and sink them into the ground at random heights to give it some character.
A chopstick is the perfect addition to your tool belt when you’re starting your seeds indoors in seed trays. After you’ve filled your seed tray with soil and leveled it off, use a chopstick to make a divot in each seed tray cell. You can use colored pieces of tape to mark different measurements on the chopstick, so you can be assured that you’re always planting your seeds at the optimum depth.
This might be the most difficult thing on the list, but it is WELL worth the effort. As your pumpkins mature, keep them from rotting from contact with wet or warm soil. Start out by tying four chopsticks into a square, with about an inch of each chopstick hanging out on both ends. Your square should look a bit like a tic-tac-toe board at this point. It’s OK if they are tied a bit loosely, as that will allow you to be able to adjust the size of the square based on the size of the pumpkin you are supporting. Next, attach a chopstick perpendicularly from each corner of the square. These should all be attached pointy-side down, as they will act as your ground spikes. Find your pumpkin-in-distress, stab one of these pedestals into the ground underneath, slide the sticks up and down to adjust the square size, and you’ll have a perfect pumpkin come harvest time.