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Mystery giant glass bottle in garden?
August 12, 2011 3:28 PM   Subscribe

Can you tell me what this large glass jar found in my rented house's garden might be used for?

It's a fat, 3' high glass bottle essentially, but with a 2" hole in both the top and the bottom of the glass. It was found sitting on a raised metal platform, also with a 2" or so hole that connects with the 2" bottom of the glass bottle's hole. It was totally empty when I found it (the garden is filled with long-abandoned odds and ends), but underneath the raised metal platform I found what looks to be a vast snail burial ground.

Any ideas to its old or future uses in a garden? If it helps, I'm in Austin, TX.
posted by dougmoon to Home & Garden (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Could you provide pictures?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:32 PM on August 12, 2011


Could it once have housed a light fixture?
posted by limeonaire at 3:32 PM on August 12, 2011


Could it be a glass insulator?
posted by Felicity Rilke at 3:45 PM on August 12, 2011


Possibly a variant on this suggestion for killing banana slugs (via):


Hi! I have been having great success killing the disgusting, slimy banana slugs that have been throwing all-you-can-eat parties in my garden with cornmeal. It desiccates them very nicely!

Gather up some glass jars and put a tablespoon (15 ml) or two or three of the cornmeal in each one. Lay them on their sides near the plants where the evil things are dining making sure to provide easy entrances to the jars. They think cornmeal is a party favor, so they crawl inside, chow down, and die. Empty the residual mess into the trash in the morning.

DeDe Johnson, Portland, OR

Reply from Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine:

Hi DeDe,

Great suggestion! Thank you, because many people really struggle with those nasty banana slugs.

posted by bearwife at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2011


Oh wait, 3 feet high? Scratch that suggestion.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 3:48 PM on August 12, 2011


My roommate has graciously provided a picture!

Could it once have housed a light fixture?

It's possible at one time, but not likely from where I found it in the garden at such a remove from any outlets. Seems it had been sitting there for quite a while, too.

Possibly a variant on this suggestion for killing banana slugs

That seems likely. I didn't find any shells in the glass itself, but maybe they were shaken out or fell out.
posted by dougmoon at 3:49 PM on August 12, 2011


Looks kinda like a European wine jug to me. Or could it be a bee/wasp trap?
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:54 PM on August 12, 2011


My parents had a few big bottles like this when I was a kid. One was
filled with coins, the other with matchbooks they collected from restaurants. Maybe it was a bank?
posted by gnutron at 3:55 PM on August 12, 2011


I wonder if it was meant to hold a flame, like a garden torch fed by gas line through the hole in the side of the metal box? Or a really large candle?

I assume the bottle separates from the box easily enough? It's not glued on or anything?
posted by CancerMan at 4:01 PM on August 12, 2011


I think it's probably the remains of a beverage dispenser - I can only find a couple of things online that suggest Pyrex ever made beverage dispensers and none of them match that shape and format exactly. But I don't think Pyrex ever made snail traps.

Probably the dispensing mechanism guts are long gone, but would have emerged out the hole in the platform.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:03 PM on August 12, 2011


I assume the bottle separates from the box easily enough? It's not glued on or anything?

Yep, totally separate items, though they do fit snugly together.
posted by dougmoon at 4:08 PM on August 12, 2011


On further research, Pyrex does also make lab glass and oil/lubricant dispensers that aren't entirely unlike the rig in your photo. This might be an older version of a similar piece of equipment.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:16 PM on August 12, 2011


Google image searching for 'old glass carboy' gets a lot of that kind of bottle. Whenever I've seen one in somebody's house, it's been used for making beer or wine. (That is, before gnutron's parents abandoned the idea and just started tossing pennies into it -- I think lots of people of a certain era tried homebrewing/winemaking, gave up, and a lot of kids of a certain era ended up with giant carboy piggy banks; strangely common sight in suburban rec rooms...)
posted by kmennie at 4:17 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm pretty sure it's an insect trap. My ex-boyfriend made a DIY version of that with the stand and everything in order to catch flies for his pet frog. Flies (or bees or whatever) go in the hole in the stand (you bait the stand with some meat or fruit or whatever), then they go up into the jug and they can't get back out. Of course you would have a cork or something in the top hole, that's just there so you can dump out the dead bodies.
posted by slenderloris at 4:23 PM on August 12, 2011


Could it have been a homemade watering system. I picture the glass carboy sitting up higher than the plants. Fill with water from hose and water drains slowly through hole and soaker hose?? Going out of town and need your garden watered - sounds like a winner to me. It all depends on how watertight they are when they fit together.
posted by rvrlvr at 5:32 PM on August 12, 2011


Off-topic, but: Banana slugs do not eat garden vegetables. Introduced European slugs do. Banana slugs eat leaf litter. We now return you to your regularly scheduled gardening.
posted by eritain at 6:04 PM on August 12, 2011


I think that's a "ported" glass carboy for brewing. Doesn't look quite right to be a glass flytrap.
posted by madmethods at 6:20 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Huh, I was going to say, possibly a terrarium.
but I guess I won't.
posted by Drasher at 6:47 PM on August 12, 2011


I think that's a "ported" glass carboy for brewing.

I think kmennie and madmethods have it - it looks very much like a ported carboy/demijohn. The slightly raised hole at the bottom is used for racking wine, which involves draining the liquid and leaving behind the sediment (which would settle around the edges). During brewing the hole would be filled with a bung of some kind.

These are coincidentally about the same shape as an insect trap (see the entry for "fly trap" here), so it looks like the base was specially constructed to adapt this one from brewing device to insect/snail trap.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:16 PM on August 12, 2011


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