Last weekend, I noticed that someone had cut the waist high grass in one of the vacant lots near my home. More to the point, I noticed that they had bagged up their cuttings and then abandoned said bags along the fence line of the vacant lot.
"Hmmmmm," I thought, "compost."
Read any advice on urban composting, and you'll be urged to befriend landscapers in order to get a source of grass and leaves. Maybe I'm a bit obtuse, but I haven't been able to figure out the mechanics of sidling up to random landscapers. I work in a very urban environment. There are no lawns in the warehouse district of West Oakland, hence, no landscapers. I think I need to start hanging out at Landscaper Pickup Bars, wherever those might be.
I mentioned my desire to swipe some of these grass clippings for my garden to Robb, and he immediately started composing headlines for the local news. Oakland Woman Arrested for Foliage Theft: Details at Eleven.
I wasn't deterred. I planned to pick up one of these huge leaf bags on my way to work last Saturday, but the angry looking woman standing at bus stop directly in front of the pile of bags made me delay my plans. Instead, I grabbed a bag Monday morning. The only problem was that I wasn't headed to the shop (where the garden is). We were scheduled to work onstage at the theater all day.
And it was a hot day on Monday.
By the end of the day, we were all exhausted, and my car smelled like rotting hay and fennel.
I did not drive to the shop and feed my compost pile. I drove home, and went to bed.
The next morning, we worked at the theater, and eventually ended up at the shop. My car smelled even funkier than it had the day before. More than one person asked me if I had a dead body in the back of my car. By the time the bag got dumped on the compost pile, its contents were steaming. Decomposition had already begun.
Not surprisingly, the clippings from your average urban vacant lot bear little resemblance to what you get your typical suburban lawn. No tidy short grass for me. My bag was full of long, fibrous stems, that had completely matted together. I tried chopping these into smaller pieces, but stopped after I had succeeded in giving myself a really gory blister. I interspersed my new compost booty with sawdust from the shop, and everything seems to be cooking away nicely.
My compost pile is happy. When it "cooks down" I'll be adding much-needed nutrients to my garden's soil. The native wildflowers will be thrive, and that will provide food for butterflies and bees.
And Robb and all of the painters will know, without any doubt, that I'm a weed-stealing lunatic.