Tips from a Crabby Old Gardener

May 8th, 2010

Plastic labels are OK. Good, in fact. I generally use them for pots and seed flats, but occasionally in the garden too. I used to use wood labels, thinking them nicer-looking and more eco-friendly, but I’ve changed my mind. I’ve seen wood labels in seed flats develop mold which spread over the soil. And I can’t think of any way to reuse wood labels, except to compost them. Plastic labels can be reused many times. Here’s how.

What you want are thick and sturdy plastic labels, like these from Pinetree Garden Seeds. If you write on them with pencil, the writing will not run or fade. A soft lead pencil will give a darker line than an ordinary #2 (HB), but any graphite pencil will work.

Most of these were used as labels for seedlings, but some were retrieved after use in the garden.

Plastic labels are reusable

Now, having used a pencil to write your label, you can then scrub off the writing and reuse the label. In the olden days I used scouring powder, but in the modern era I use a melamine sponge. In less time than it takes to cut up a plastic milk jug, you have clean labels ready for reuse.

Clean and ready to reuse

I planted another batch of seeds yesterday. Mostly basil this time. I’ve finally learned that it doesn’t make sense to start basil seeds too early. If you set big basil plants in the garden now, you’ll have to cut them several times to have fresh leaves when the tomatoes ripen and the new garlic is ready. Better to wait. And keep learning.

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