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entertainingFood & Drinkoutdoorweeders digest

weeder’s digest: cans

by Grace Bonney

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With Earth Day coming up, I figure I show you how I recycle some of my tin cans.

First off, buy cans that look good. You don’t want your pretty things in busted cans. Why not practice grocery-offsetting to insure you have good packaging to work with? 25 cans of cat food are offset with a sack of dried Morels. You want Kraft singles? A quick twirl in the international food section will result in Greek thousand-flower honey, a suitable offset. At the checkout I’m enamored by the opulent and unusual packaging… Israeli couscous (Triscuits), hibiscus salt (marshmallow fluff) and a Tahitian vanilla bean packaged in a test tube (toilet tissue). And much of this packaging will have a second life…

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Let me tell you some good looking cans; Sclafani Tomatoes. Dammann Tea. San Marzano tomatoes generally come in good cans. As does loose Twinings tea. You’re shopping for style here folks – oh, you don’t eat sardines? Yes you do! – with a stylish can of Sicilian sardines you can make a lovely moss-filled pincushion.

You can also make a vase with a tin can. Or a planter. We generally start rootlings in cans in the kitchen where they are more likely to receive attention as opposed to the more established plants in other parts of the house. To ensure good drainage, turn the can on end and using a hammer and screwdriver, pop a few holes in the bottom.

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For flowers, make sure you clean your cans well – residue will lead to bacteria. Yesterday I made an arrangement of red ranunculus in a Sclafani Tomato 28-ouncer. To keep the stems supported and upright, I balled up a few squares of chicken wire and placed them down inside the can.

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Same chicken wire treatment in a second can resulted in an arrangement with camel roses, peonies and dogwood. I dug out some birch bark* and wrapped it around the can. Later at home, I fiddled around with a French tea canister to make a sweet little arrangements with a red charm peony and some andromeda.

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*You can buy birch bark at US Evergreen (T: 212-741-5300) on 7th Avenue between 27th and 28th Streets.

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