With only one set of old mini-blinds, you can make hundreds of plant markers in various sizes
and widths that are nearly indestructible! You can use up those old mini-blinds you have lying around. Re-using what would be otherwise destined for the trash heap is the best way to Go Green and score some resilient garden-ware.
This is a superb and inexpensive way to label your plants, whether in a container, flower garden,
or vegetable garden... and can be used in your starter seed trays, too.
Some people use plastic stakes, popsicle sticks, or metal to label their plants, but the mini-blinds are the perfect material for the gardens of "Makers or Recyclers'.
Hard plastic markers [the store bought kind] get brittle and break [due to weather], wood ones absorb what you write and the marker usually 'bleeds' [and eventually rots and disintegrates], and metal will rust [and you don't want that near your veggies!].
If you don't have any old mini-blinds, then check out friends houses, garage sales, thrift stores, etc. Otherwise, you might have to break down and buy a set for about $3 or $4 dollars at Wal-mart. But these days, a pack of cheap plastic markers runs at least $3and won't last half as long as your new mini-blind-stakes... and one store-bought pack will just not do!
Step 1: Gather Your Materials.
Assemble the following:
3. A sharpened pencil. *
You will only need about four or five blind slats out at a time. You can do this in whatever manner you like, but cutting the string and sliding the slats out is best. [2nd Photo below]
If you are true recycler - you can cut the string in such a way that you can re-use the lengths at another time [like tying up those cukes or tomatoes later on in the season...???]
*I have tried using permanent markers, but was upset when the rain and sun faded my markings and left me more confused than ever as to what I had planted. Sharpie brand used to make a 'permanent marker' that did not fade.....but must have changed the ink. Seems they just ain't making markers like they used to. Thus, a pencil works best.
Step 2: Cut The Blinds.
Depending on how strong you are [and how good your scissors are] you can cut through from
2-4 slats at a time...instead of doing it one at a time Try it out first to see what works best for you.
I found that 3 slats cut at one time was best~
Make the first cut on the hole where the string usually goes, as shown in the 1st photo.
I find that this cut will make an average-sized stake, and the size plant marker I use the most.
Next, match that first set of cut pieces up to the rest of your blind slat stack. [2nd photo below]
This will guide you so that your stakes come out roughly the same size, although they don't necessarily have be.
Step 3: Shape the stakes into...well, stakes.
Cut the other end to complete the "V" shape point .
This is the part that will stick into the dirt near your plant.
[2nd photo below] You can round the other end, for no reason except the fact that it looks nice.
Plus a rounded top edge does not leave any sharp edges to get hurt on.
[3rd photo below] Shows my own cut, rounded stakes on the left and the factory-end of the original mini-blind slat on the right [for comparison].
Word to the Wise: Cutting the 'V' points and rounded ends of the mini-blind slats WILL leave
lots of sharp, tiny cut pieces. Care should be taken to dispose of waste pieces properly.
If you have very small children, they should not play with these sharp pieces-
and if you have chickens, they WILL try to peck [and eat] these things!
Step 4: Title Those Things.
Once your stakes are cut in an acceptable size and shape, [''and you have made as many as you need for now] take your pencil and mark them in whatever way you like!
You can put the names of plants, special planting instructions, or anything else you might need to remember about your "babies and friends from the Green Kingdom".
Customizing your stakes is easy! You can mark important information about your plant such as the date you planted, when you fertilized, or information form the seed pack [such as: 'needs sun', 'spreads easy', or 'needs dividing every 3 years', etc] [2nd photo below]
''As far as using PENCILS:
You can also write on them with permanent markers, but the writing will weather away after awhile. Carpenter's pencil writing lasts a good while, and they are very cheap at home centers or hardware stores. If you want a permanent plant marker, you can type the name on a sticky label, put it onto the mini blind label, and paint with clear varnish or polyurethane. For longer lasting permanent marker writing on a label, simply paint with two coats of clear nail polish. I suggested just using pencil as a way to use what you already had without incurring more cost to the project!
Mini-blind labels can even have the writing scrubbed or erased off for reuse.
For permanent marker, alcohol will remove any leftover writing.
Step 5: Insert Into Plant.
Making a load of markers is a great project to start in the winter, when you're stuck indoors anticipating the garden season -- or pouring over the seed catalogs!
FOR A GREAT GIFT IDEA:
A nice amount of plant markerscan be stuffed into a clay poy tthat is tied with a ribbon and other goodies [such as garden tools, a marking pencil, seed packs, etc.] and given to your garden friends!.
Step 6: Bonus Sizes!
Tiny, squat sizes can be made to fit under the clear domes of seed-starting trays, too.
You can also cut the blinds in half length-wise for thinner labels. [2nd photo below]
Different colored mini blind labels can be used for different groups of plants, [such as blue for herbs, or green for perennials] - or to mark dormant potted plants, so you don't empty the pot out and reuse the soil thinking the plant is dead. [Because us recyclers DO RE-USE all our old soil from year to year....How many pots do you have sitting outside waiting to empty? HMMMM...?]
Step 7: Ummm...Any Safety Issues....?
There is some talk going on that mini-blinds should not be used due to lead.
This is due to the scare that happened about 10-12 years ago.
Just make sure the blinds you use are lead-free.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) found that older, imported vinyl (plastic) mini blinds contain high amounts of lead which can be hazardous to young children. These blinds were manufactured before mid-1997 and imported from China, Indonesia, Taiwan and Mexico.
Manufacturers used lead in blinds to stabilize the vinyl and make it less brittle.
Around 1997 the CPSC changed the law, promoted new packaging labeling, and encouraged families with young children to dispose of imported vinyl mini-blinds.
The mini-blinds that I used for these plant markers are only a couple of years old, were
purchased by me and do not contain any lead. In my experience, most mini-blinds don't last that long, anyway - so hopefully those older imported mini-blinds are not even around to be re-used, but I know it is possible. 1996 or earlier imported blinds should not be recycled into craft projects'' --they should be discarded as hazardous waste.
USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT WITH ANYTHING YOU DO~