Over the weekend we jumped into our beater pickup truck to run a bunch of gardening-related errands. I'd been waiting for an opportunity to knock out several tasks in one run, and it was finally the right time. There's a mushroom farm not too far from Kennett Square that gives away free organic mushroom compost most Saturday mornings. We had to get on the road pretty early to get there in time, but man, what a deal. We didn't even have to load it. They had a conveyor belt contraption that just dumped the compost right into the bed of our truck. We had to get in line between much larger farm machines pulling much larger trailers to haul the compost around in. Clearly these farmers know a good thing when they find it. We were thrilled.
Then off we went to another town in the area to drop off some seeds to a woman who had participated in the group ordering we did last month. She had mentioned that she had a large stand of bamboo, and that we were welcome to come and help ourselves to as much of it as we wanted. We did. I cut down twenty shafts, which, after trimming, we were able to cut into 11-foot sections with remainders 6 to 8 feet long . I want them to create six bean teepees for my garden this year. I'll use the longer sections for the teepees, and the shorter pieces for whatever else suggests itself. We stuffed the bamboo poles into the compost in the bed of the truck and recovered it all with a tarp.
Then it was off to a lunch break and a meetup with Meg & Kelly of Future House Farm at the Victory Brewing brewpub in Downington. We thought it very fitting, parking our beater truck in the brewery's parking lot with this bumper sticker on it. It was good to meet the "Pirate Farm" folks, as my husband calls them, and to chat about sustainability, books by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver, and food and beer of course. They're gardening-cooking-hen keeping folks themselves, and they're the ones that got me thinking in the first place about using bamboo in the garden. My husband was keen to hear about the rain barrel system they set up for their watering needs. He also indulged in a growler purchase, filled with a Victory brew.
After a lunch of satisfying food and conversation, we were off to our last freebie stop. I collected a few more composting worms from the third person to respond to my pleas for them. Two other women had kindly given me a few worms, but the total amount was pretty small compared to the size of the bin I'm using for them. So another addition wasn't amiss.
On the way home we had a funny encounter with a hugely enthused Asian man pulling up alongside us in a minivan while cruising along at 55 mph on the highway. He beckoned for me to roll down my window while his wife looked eagerly on. We were mystified, but I rolled down my window. "Where'd you get the bamboo?" he yelled excitedly. I shouted out the name of the town where we had cut it that morning, and he asked, "Is there somewhere to buy it?!?" I smiled ruefully, shook my head and watched his face fall. But he said thanks and drove off. We wondered whether we could've made some ready cash if we'd pulled over and offered to sell our poles on the spot.
The bamboo poles will be used to grow some Cherokee Trail of Tears beans and Hutterite Soup beans this year. Most of the mushroom compost will go into the raised beds we've yet to make for the asparagus crowns that will arrive in a few months.
We were pretty smug about getting so much free gardening stuff and meeting some interesting people for lunch. I think I won't have too much trouble rousting my husband early from bed again if I want to make a similar run again for more of the same. But I'm a little sore from cutting all that bamboo and then off-loading the compost. I'm out of shape from lack of gardening activity over the winter.
I live on a 2/3 acre homestead in a residential neighborhood. A major goal is to demonstrate how much food a non-expert can produce in my particular climate and hardiness zone, with the soils native to my immediate area. We have gardens of annual and perennial plants, keep laying hens and honey bees, and regularly bite off more than we can chew. Another major goal is to pay off our mortgage as fast as possible. Here I blog about frugality, self-reliance, gardening, cooking and baking, food preservation, practical skills, half-baked experiments, and preparing to thrive in a lower-energy future.