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Second nature

JNF official: Don’t trash used masks, use them to grow plants

Head of KKL JNF Jewish National Fund’s Gilat Tree Nursery in Negev discovers that old surgical masks are perfect for cultivating seeds, seedlings and cuttings

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

  • Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
    Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
  • Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
    Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
  • Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
    Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
  • Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)
    Using old surgical masks as plant pots. (Courtesy, Pablo Chercasky, Director of the KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund's Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel)

Wondering how you can recycle all those used surgical masks you’ve been wearing against coronavirus?

Turns out they’re the perfect answer for growing seeds, cuttings and bulbs.

The idea comes from Pablo Chercasky, director of the KKL JNF Jewish National Fund’s Gilat Tree Nursery in southern Israel.

“What can I do, I’m a Pole, I don’t throw anything away,” Chercasky joked, alluding to the stereotype that Polish Jews hoard things for a rainy day. “Every day I was using a disposable mask and then putting it to one side wondering how I could use it again. Then I had the idea of using them as growing containers instead of pots that I have to buy.”

Chercasky tied pairs of masks together to form pots, filled them with soil and has since been using them successfully to grow seeds, seedlings of bushes and trees and cuttings that do not need depth for their roots.

They are perfect for growing herbs such as mint and basil, he said.

The “pots” should be placed on a rack above a tray one to two centimeters deep. After an initial watering from the top, they can be irrigated from underneath by filling the tray whenever needed.

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