By Juleigh Howard-Hobson
Mirrored flush-mounted bathroom medicine cabinets are easily one of the most non-upcycled objects out there. They are short and shallow. They don’t stand by themselves. And, frankly, they aren’t very nice to look at once they are out of their recessed wall enclosure.
But, the thing is, just about every house has one…sometimes two or more. You can pick them up for a song at garage sales, rebuilding centers or CraigsList. Sometimes they are free at all these places because very few people actually want old medicine cabinets. New ones are cheap. Also, old ones are frequently….um….not as fastidiously clean as one would prefer.
All to the good, my friends.
You see, old medicine cabinets may seem useless if you look at them as cabinets, but if you look at them as hinged lid boxes….well….the possibilities to use them for are vastly improved.
One of the things they are great for, once you see them as a box, is as a seed starter box.
First, you must take all the shelves out. If you are lucky, they are clear glass shelves that you can tape together to make a nice glass sheet out of. Most medicine cabinets seem to have these sorts of shelves. If yours doesn’t, don’t despair, use a piece of window glass or clear plastic or even cling wrap instead of the taped glass sheet. Put the glass away for now.
Second, you have to rehang the door of the cabinet. The mirror needs to face into the opening. I’ll get to why this is so later in this article. Pull the pins out of the hinge, separate the two pieces.
Take the mirror out of its housing, then mount a door hinge to the mirror housing, put the mirror back in, and mount the other side of the door hinge to the metal frame of the cabinet.
It doesn’t have to shut like a lid or a door, it just has to move back and forth.
Third, take the wood and cut the middle out of it. Basically, you are making a frame. Now, tape or glue the glass(or plastic) to this.
Line the interior of the cabinet with the aluminum foil. Top with the glass/wood frame.
Now, angle the mirrored door above the open part of the cabinet so that the most light possible enters the box. This is how the box will get warm enough to germinate seeds.
You can move this anywhere you want, because it is light and portable, making it a very handy sun catcher.
Put starter pots of seeds in it, water them. Set the glass frame in place. Then angle the mirror to catch the most light and there you have it. A seed starter you can use in any climate. We just used ours to germinate kale and cabbage seeds in early November.
An added bonus to this is that you can also use it to cook some foods. It’s a little small to be a powerful solar oven, and it is much slower, but it got a lentil dish cooked in time for dinner when we tried it out. (We used a sweet and sour lentil recipe adapted from Jay Solomon’s Lean Bean Cookbook)
- 1 Medicine cabinet
- 2 Old hinges (old door hinges work well)
- As many screws as needed for the hinges
- 1 Piece of wood the same size as the cabinet
- Packing tape (or a piece of glass/clear plastic smaller than the piece of wood above, or cling wrap)
- Aluminum foil
- Saw, hammer, screwdriver etc
- Seeds, seed starter pots, water