diy project: vintage food mill planter

When April showers come to an end and May flowers start blooming, I know estate & garage sale season will be in full force soon. The combination of beautiful weather and lots of people wanting to get rid of their “junk” just makes me giddy. After scouring numerous estate sales and flea markets, I consistently come across aluminum food mills from the forties and fifties. Their affordable price and basic design have always captured my eye, so this spring, I decided to put one on more prominent display by using it as an outdoor planter. The holes provide excellent drainage, and the wide base keeps it stable in the wind. — Ashley


  • 40s/50s-era aluminum food mill
  • Spanish moss
  • peat moss, potting soil, compost
  • a wide-spreading plant


1. Line the food mill with Spanish moss. This will confine the soil to the inside of the mill and keep it from seeping out of the holes as easily.

2. Fill the bottom of the mill with peat moss, potting soil and/or compost. Place your plant on top.

3. Fill the reminder of the mill with more potting soil.

4. Water. Keep in mind that there are holes all over the food mill, including at the bottom. If watering inside or in a place you do not want dripping, place a small bowl under the mill to catch any excess water. You can remove the bowl when the water stops dripping.

5. You’re done!

  1. I just happen to have one of these old food mills in my cabinet taking up space! It was given to me by my husband’s grandmother…now I know what to do with it!

  2. WOW i love this! So innovative, now I’m going to look around the house for things I can turn into beautiful planters. Thanks for sharing!

  3. emily says:

    This is great. I love repurposed items. I use my leftover caning jars as planters…once planted a petunia in a running shoe for a marathon gift…

  4. Lauren says:


    I loooove this adorable idea!

  5. JulieB says:

    Yay! I totally have one of these but didn’t lnow what to do with it. Genius!!

  6. Pammy says:

    Darn! I have a food mill from my grandmother, but not the stand part! Ugh I wanted to do this, it’s so cute!

  7. Kelly says:

    What a creative idea! What kind of flowers are those?

  8. Zsa Zsa says:

    Brilliant! This would make a great gift idea too — it would make the outdoors look a lot lovelier! P.s. Are those yellowbells?

  9. MsChilePepper says:

    My Mom has one of those, but she calls it a “jelly stomper” which cracks me up every time I hear her say it. :D

  10. AshleyAnn says:

    Kelly & Zsa Zsa – the flowers are Callie Calibrachoa

  11. Tara Mangini says:

    i love love this. so perfect for an outdoor wedding centerpiece.

  12. brandie says:

    Hey Ashley,

    Not to sound like a crazy stickler, but the term for that tool is a “chinois”or “conical sieve” (depending on the fineness of the holes). Mid-century food mills are marked by rotating blades that are used to mash and push food through a sieve- they are usually flat bottomed.

  13. Emma says:

    Love Love Love this!

  14. Sandra says:

    So funky yet sculptural! Love it!

  15. Great idea, gorgeous photos! Sometimes DIY projects on blogs can be a bit cheesy or cheap looking, but not this one. Not at all. I’ve got to get my hands on an old food mill!

  16. That is crazy! I just seen about 5 of these mills today at a yard sale, and I had never seen them before. I liked them but didn’t get them. I did pick up mason jars that I wanted to make crochet cozies for, so coming to your blog looking at that, I also seen this project! Just lovely! I am wondering if the yard sale is still going, considering running back to buy them up! All your DIY projects are wonderful! I have bookmarked your site! Have a great week-end!

  17. Okay~ just ran there & they were still there & I picked up two of them! Yippee! I’m so excited!

  18. MB@YarnUiPhoneApp says:

    If these are as cheap and common as mentioned they would be great on tables at a wedding. Maybe even give them away to guests.

  19. Suzanne says:

    Hi! Does anyone know what type of plant that is?


  20. so CUTE! and yet so simple. I love the understated elegance.

  21. Gloria says:

    Are you aware that an unattractive Google ad is right smack in the middle of your lovely header?

    Love the idea!

  22. I think this would be great with herbs as well for a centerpiece the next time you have a little Italian feast with your friends. Great idea and I agree with Eva, not cheesy at all!

  23. Cherrey says:

    This is a wonderful idea.. Looks simple but very classic.

  24. Roseann says:

    I have one of these also, but, unfortunately not the stand part. Trying to think of what I could use to imitate that part. Any suggestions ??

  25. Carla P. says:

    Where can I get one of those food mills?


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