Friday, September 30, 2005

Dumpster Diving

Despite the Cincinnati Enquirer’s almost daily calls, we do not subscribe to the newspaper. As members of the internet age, we read our news online. The top headlines of the NY Times are emailed to me daily. My futuristic tendencies do have one drawback: I have no newspaper for the garden.

After beginning my first lasagna bed, I became addicted to newspaper. I use it to smother grass for new beds. I’ve killed quite a bit of lawn this way. Additionally, every new plant I install is surrounded with a ring of newspaper before I add the mulch. Although it decomposes with time, the paper keeps the weeds down long enough for them to become thoroughly extinguished.

To obtain the newspaper I needed when I began the half moon bed last June, I waited for a Thursday (trash!) night and then trolled the neighborhood. After a few blocks, I found that one kind soul had loaded her newspaper into a paper shopping bag, complete with handles, before depositing it in the recycle bin. Because it was summer, I had to raid the bin in broad daylight and carry my prize home in full view of the neighbors. Mike was mortified, but I considered the paper worth the price of humiliation.

That bag of newspaper lasted through the summer, but finally began to empty during September. In an effort to stretch my supply, I started getting my groceries bagged in paper and used the paper bags in the garden. When I received plants in the mail, I recycled the brown paper that cushioned the package’s innards into the garden as well. Finally, last week, I used the last of the bags, packaging, and newspaper.

Last night was trash night again, but, thank goodness, it is now dark by 8 p.m. This time, I had only to walk to the end of my block to find a recycle bin with two paper bags full of newspapers. They were difficult to carry without handles, and I nearly dropped them on the trip back up the street, but I got them home and stowed by our kitchen door. Tonight, I have several newly planted bushes and flowers that will finally receive their newspaper ring and bark mulch. I only hope that they weren’t too exposed during last night’s temperature dip to 42 degrees.

Hopefully, I won’t have to go dumpster diving again until spring. I have enough newspaper to last me through the fall (fingers crossed!). I’ve also socked away tons of plastic food and beverage containers during the spring and summer to use for my winter sowing. However, if you see a strange lady rooting through your recycle bin, please, avert your eyes. It’s just me, humiliating myself for my garden


Blogger Kristin said...

Cute post. :)

8:01 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I love 'dumpster diving' - I bring home all sorts of treasures.

Rusting firewood holders, picnic tables, pots. No end to the treasures that folks throw away.

Mark won't let me bring home bagged leaves. Flat out refuses.

But he's gotten in the habit of picking up bits of rusting metal for me.

Should post on this, shouldn't I?

8:18 AM  
Blogger Zoey said...

Great post! I chuckled through the whole thing imagining you scouting the neighborhood, finally snagging your prize much to the horror of your husband. I do hope your plants appreciate the extra effort you expend for them.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Maggirat said...

There's a strategy to trash picking. Drive around, preferably in a beat-up minivan with the back seats pulled out, at twilight. If possible, you've already scanned the area, in daylight, for goodies. Have with you a madly cackling friend with no boundaries when it comes to this sort of thing. Pull up to the curb (consider putting the lights out. The passenger leaps from the vehicle, wrenches open the passenger side door, grabs the loot, slams the door shut and returns to their seat, giggling insanely. Frequently, alcoholic libation may follow this forays into the underworld (but don't drink & drive!).

I bonded with my boyfriend this way.

6:52 AM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Myself, I steal grass clippings for my lasagna beds. I don't even steal them from my neighbors - I don't live in a "water the grass" neighborhood and it's been very dry lately, so I have to drive to my mom's house to dumpster dive! I use cardboard boxes, broken down, for the base of my lasagna beds, and since I just moved I've got plenty of those!

6:52 AM  
Blogger Scott in Washington said...

"If that baby is still here come dark, she's mine. Ohhh, yahhh"
-Jeff Foxworthy on how he furnished his first apartment.

Bad News Hughes is at it again...

6:41 PM  
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