Repurpose Yogurt Cups into Small Plant Pots: I use an old stainless steel fork instead of a nail

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Repurpose Yogurt Cups into Small Plant Pots

By donnabking
February 26, 2016

Save a few bucks, and do yourself and the landfill a favor. Save that yogurt cup. Instead of spending your hard earned cash on small single plant sized pots, just make a simple alteration and you are good to go.

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Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Feb 27, 2016 4:12 AM CST
I've been doing this for years. Instead of a nail, I use an old stainless steel fork. I picked up a few with 3 big tines at a thrift store a few years ago. They make the hole punching/melting part go quicker.
Name: Ann
Ottawa, ON Canada (Zone 5a)
Hostas Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Composter Region: Canadian Clematis
Canning and food preservation Container Gardener Annuals Herbs Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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ViolaAnn
Feb 27, 2016 7:04 AM CST
A electric drill works well too and you can do 4 or 5 cups at the same time.
Ann

Pictures of all my hostas, updated annually and tracked since 2008 begin at: https://violaann.smugmug.com/Garden/Hostas/Hostas-in-my-gard...
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
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greene
Feb 27, 2016 11:36 AM CST
ViolaAnn said:A electric drill works well too and you can do 4 or 5 cups at the same time.


Since I don't like to burn plastic because it could release dioxins into the air I also use a drill to make drainage holes. I have a spade bit that I use and yes, can do about 4 or 5 at a time without cracking the plastic containers and/or cups. I realize that poking holes with a hot nail or other utensil seems like a small thing and may not cause much harm, but I like to be cautious.
http://www.wecf.eu/cms/download/2004-2005/homeburning_plasti...

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Angie
Concord, NC (zone 7)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Winter Sowing Region: North Carolina Daylilies Roses
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Hemophobic
Feb 27, 2016 11:41 AM CST
An ice pick will work, too. I use this for making drainage holes in my jugs for winter
sowing.
I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day. ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 27, 2016 11:45 AM CST
Your mention of the ice pick reminded me of something. I had picked up some kind of old hand tool called a 'gimlet'; I see that in addition to its intended use for starting small holes in wood it can be used for making small holes in plastic. Mine looks like the antique type pictured here:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimlet_(tool)
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Angie
Concord, NC (zone 7)
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Winter Sowing Region: North Carolina Daylilies Roses
Clematis Butterflies Cat Lover Birds Hummingbirder Seed Starter
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Hemophobic
Feb 27, 2016 4:09 PM CST
That looks like a very useful tool, Greene! I'll keep my eyes open for one at estate or yard sales.
I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day. ~F. Frankfort Moore, A Garden of Peace

Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 27, 2016 5:30 PM CST
I purchased mine at the Humane Society Thrift Store; it was brand new in a package for only $2.

I did a quick search on the internet and several places offer this type of tool in assorted sizes. Here is one example:
http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/159695/HP-Gimlet-Set-4p.asp...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Feb 27, 2016 7:29 PM CST
greene said:Since I don't like to burn plastic because it could release dioxins into the air

Two things.

First, the "dioxins" you are referring to are polychlorinated dibenzodioxins. Those toxic chemicals can be formed when you burn certain types of plastics.

Yogurt cups are made from polypropylene (marked with a number 5 in the recycling symbol, and often the letters "PP" below the recycling symbol). Polypropylene has no chlorine in it, and when you burn polypropylene, it can not form "dioxins" (polychlorinated dibenzodioxins). The chemicals required to form "dioxins" aren't present in polypropylene (nor in HDPE or LDPE, number 2 and number 4 recyclable plastics). If you managed to burn the entire yogurt cup, it would likely release less toxic pollutants into your house than starting your car in the attached garage, or lighting a single tobacco cigarette inside the home. If you burn polypropylene, you get CO2 and H2O, maybe some CO if there isn't enough oxygen to get it to CO2, and perhaps very small traces of aldehydes and carboxylic acids. The aldehydes and carboxylic acids will also form in polypropylene if you expose it to sunlight or any UV light source.

Second, heating a 'hole punch' tool (nail or fork) to 350F or 400F to melt holes in polypropylene won't burn the plastic. The ignition point for polypropylene is nearly 700F. There's a very wide range of temperatures that will melt, but not burn the plastic used in yogurt cups.
Name: Ann
Ottawa, ON Canada (Zone 5a)
Hostas Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Composter Region: Canadian Clematis
Canning and food preservation Container Gardener Annuals Herbs Seed Starter Vegetable Grower
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ViolaAnn
Feb 27, 2016 10:17 PM CST
I guess the thing we should really be talking about is the (re)use of of yogurt cups to start seeds. I think it's a great idea and I've also done it for years.

Sound like the large fork could also make holes in several cups at once. I'd venture to guess I could find a used one at the Sally Ann store near me.
Ann

Pictures of all my hostas, updated annually and tracked since 2008 begin at: https://violaann.smugmug.com/Garden/Hostas/Hostas-in-my-gard...
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 28, 2016 11:49 AM CST
Thank You! For the good information about dioxins.

greene said:
...I realize that poking holes with a hot nail or other utensil seems like a small thing and may not cause much harm, but I like to be cautious.


I was agreeing with the person who uses an electric drill. Mine was a positive post. I did not say that dioxins would be released only that they could ... Sighing! but thanks for jumping on this. Lots of folks will benefit from such a detailed and informative post. Thank You! Thumbs up

By the way, I burned my thumb today just lifting up a glass that held a burning candle *Blush* ...which is another good reason that I avoid things like hot nails and melty plastic. Rolling on the floor laughing

Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Feb 28, 2016 4:52 PM CST
ViolaAnn said:I guess the thing we should really be talking about is the (re)use of of yogurt cups to start seeds. I think it's a great idea and I've also done it for years.

Sound like the large fork could also make holes in several cups at once. I'd venture to guess I could find a used one at the Sally Ann store near me.

Sharpening the tines helps a lot.

It also helps to put the cup on a block of styrofoam or on top of a juice glass and punch through the bottom while the cup is supported from underneath, but where the punch has space (or foam that it can penetrate).

I usually only poke holes through one or two cups at a time. It's just easier to push through that way, and a lot easier to pull back out. With a bigger stack, sharp tines will go in fairly easily, but the cups shift and grab and it's very hard to pull your "punch tool" back out of all the layers.

greene said: Thank You! For the good information about dioxins.

You're welcome.
greene said:I was agreeing with the person who uses an electric drill. Mine was a positive post. I did not say that dioxins would be released only that they could ... Sighing! but thanks for jumping on this. Lots of folks will benefit from such a detailed and informative post. Thank You! Thumbs up

The point of my post is you couldn't get dioxins from burning a yogurt cup. Only chlorinated plastics can release dioxins (and PCB's, and other chlorinated "really bad, toxic stuff") when burned.

Most yogurt cups are made of polypropylene. I see the original post of this article shows pictures of a polystyrene yogurt cup, with a "6" in the recycling triangle and the letters "PS". I didn't know that yogurt was ever put in containers made of polystyrene, I wouldn't eat from a container made of that. Neither polypropylene nor polystyrene contain chlorine, so neither will release "dioxins" or other toxic chlorinated compounds when burned. Just like you can't build a brick house if all you have are logs, you can't get chlorinated "dioxins" if all you have to burn is hydrogen, carbon and oxygen.

Actually, most recycled polypropylene (and a lot of recycled LDPE) goes into artificial fireplace logs. So, in the real world, people burn used (recycled) yogurt cups (and milk jugs and other food containers with "4" or "5" in the recycle symbol) all the time.

Really, I don't mean to jump on you. I just get frustrated when I see misinformation repeated and passed along as though it's a fact. Misinformation like "burning any plastic releases dioxins," which is a mostly false statement.
greene said:By the way, I burned my thumb today just lifting up a glass that held a burning candle *Blush* ...which is another good reason that I avoid things like hot nails and melty plastic. Rolling on the floor laughing

I can't help you there. I would suggest a sharpened fork or nail to poke holes in your yogurt cups, but even those can be dangerous.
Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 28, 2016 4:56 PM CST
Are you happy now?
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Eric
North Georgia, USA (Zone 7b)
Region: Georgia Garden Ideas: Level 1
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CommonCents
Feb 28, 2016 6:30 PM CST
You've inspired me to change my signature line for a while, Greene. Rolling on the floor laughing
[Last edited by CommonCents - Feb 28, 2016 6:31 PM (+)]
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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
Rabbit Keeper Critters Allowed Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages
Herbs Region: Georgia Region: United States of America Native Plants and Wildflowers Dog Lover Composter
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greene
Feb 28, 2016 7:26 PM CST
Good one. Rolling on the floor laughing Hurray!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Donna King
Selmer, TN (Southern West TN) (Zone 7b)
Hummingbirder Garden Ideas: Master Level
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donnabking
Apr 24, 2016 9:07 PM CST
[quote="ViolaAnn"]I guess the thing we should really be talking about is the (re)use of of yogurt cups to start seeds.


Guys, I use those little paper Dixie bathroom cups to start seeds in, not the waxed ones, but the really small paper ones that are not waxed. You can write on them with a sharpie pen and label them as to what you planted in them. Then when your plant is ready to transplant, you can plant the whole cup, it will break down easily, as it was not waxed and it softens easily when exposed to a lot of constant moisture, so by planting in moist soil, it will just break down. Works well for me, and no plant transplant shock.
The Hooterville Hillbilly @ Hummingbird Hill

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