A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Friday, April 25, 2014

The Frosting Bucket-Horse Poop Triangle

We gardeners do funny things, that's almost expected.  Whether we're dashing out in the middle of a ferocious thunderstorm to save a prized potted plant, covering up tender flowers with all but our nicest bedsheets, shoveling mulch while it's hailing (I did this today), or using concrete re-mesh to make tomato cages, we gotta admit we do some weird stuff.  I never thought I was above the strangeness, and my neighbors will vehemently attest to that, but lately I've set up a totally legal, but somehow illicit feeling exchange of frosting buckets and horse poop.  Allow me to explain.

I'm big on using buckets in the garden - they're handy as weed containers, hauling small amounts of dirt/fertilizer/sand, mixing potting soil, or cutting out the bottom and placing them over tender seedlings (this works really well to protect from unexpected frosts or marauding bunnies) to make a mini-greenhouse. I use plastic buckets in just about every imaginable capacity. We had gotten our buckets from Alycia 's parents who purchased Tidy Cat Cat Litter and gave us many of the leftover plastic buckets.  This all changed when Tidy Cat switched to plastic bags instead of buckets. 

So earlier this year I was at work lamenting to some of my students the fact that Tidy Cat Cat Litter no longer came in buckets, so my supply of conveniently sized 2 to 3 gallon durable plastic buckets had run dry.  One of my students at the local Community College works at the newly opened Tim Horton's Coffee Shop in Grand Forks, we'll call her Wilhelmina*, volunteered that they throw away buckets all the time and she could probably get me some of them.  The buckets are food grade 2.5 to 3 gallon buckets that contained frosting for delicious Tim Horton's donuts.  
This is what the buskets look like when I get them from my donut shop connection.  They're encrusted in various kinds of frosting/icing/glaze.  I need to clean them up, wash them off, and get all the frosting remnants off of them in order to transport them in my car and hand them off to my other student.

During this initial rambling discussion about buckets and gardening, another student and friend of Wilhelmina, let's call her Gertrude*, volunteered that she had a horse and plenty of horse manure piling up (literally), which would be free for the taking.  The only problem is that Gertrude lives about 45 minutes away, and I don't have a pickup or means of hauling large amounts of horse poop.

So once or twice per week there is an exchange in the back corners of the school parking lot.  Frosting encrusted buckets are passed from Wilhelmina to me, clean buckets are passed from me to Gertrude, buckets full of horse poop are passed from Gertrude to me.  I drive off with buckets of horse manure to compost, spread in the garden, or otherwise make my plants happy.  Like I said, gardeners are a weird lot, and I know that this arrangement and weekly parking lot exchanges should feel a whole lot stranger than they do.
I get buckets back that look like this - full of delicious, nutrient packed horse manure.  So maybe this isn't the strangest thing, gardeners use all manner of manure and have for centuries.  Perhaps it's just the seemingly illicit manner in which I acquire and swap buckets out in the school parking lot that makes it feel slightly odd.  Next week we'll tackle another interesting topic...using your own liquid waste as fertilizer, so stay tuned.     

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  

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