The Great Yard Waste Mulching Caper

Old man Winter has taken up residence here in eastern Nebraska. Our first rain/sleet/snow storm visited us a couple weeks ago. Even today skiffs of snow remains as a reminder of the eventful day. The first such day of Winter always brings with it many wrecks on the streets. It’s as if between the last snow of the spring and the first snow of the Fall, folks forget how to drive in bad weather. Now that I don’t have to go to work, I just remain off the streets for a couple days to allow those that drive crazy to wreck their cars and be eliminated from the traffic.

November has been an extreme physically taxing month. The great yard waste caper began with the falling of the neighborhood leaves. Thursday is yard waste pickup for my neighborhood. Wednesday night dressed in my stealth mode clothes, Ricky (my trusty Ford Ranger truck) and I make our way through the neighborhood hauling load after load back to my yard.

At the end of the next day (Thursday) because collection continued until the goal of 300 bags was reached. Here lies the collection from the first week of 317 bags. When the collection truck came around the corner and saw the yard their jaws dropped because the rule is there is no limit on the number of bags. I was taking a nap from the physical excertion of the night before and the day of yard waste so as they were ready to dive into taking them away my neighbor that has a spot at Terra Nova Gardens saved the day by flagging them down and telling them not to take them away. Whew, that would have been disappointing.

Friday was a hauling day for the bags to Terra Nova Gardens. This week 317 bags equated to two big trailer loads and a couple truck loads after the trailer was returned. Three weeks of collection netted 971 bags of mulch for the garden areas. I now have three garden areas at Terra Nova Gardens. One is my main 90×90 fenced (well, almost) garden; another is my neighor’s garden area; and next year will be an extended area into the property to the south of me. It’s been neglected for the probably the same amount of years as Terra Nova Gardens. To keep the weeds down and grow some corn for the animals, 70 feet of that property has been mulched in preparation for next year’s planting.

Here’s one week’s haul of 316 bags of mulch. Last year I poured out the mulch on the ground and took all the empty bags back to the Urban Ranch to put out for the yard waste guys to take away. This year I had an epiphany or a duh moment as I call them. These are biodegradeable bags. Why not just lay the bag on the ground and dump the next bag on top. It’s not cardboard but there are four layers of paper bag to help with the weed control for next year and well, I’ve seen how fast they degrade so it won’t be a problem for next years planting. Neighbors at both the Urban Ranch where they were collected and at Terra Nova Gardens where they were used for mulch told me that the yard waste company was out taking pictures of the bags. I guess I made a stir in the city waste management.

This area where the bags are would be the expansion area for next year. It actually went another three truck loads of bags farther up passed the big light pole. While working on that area, a city car pulled up with a young lady (at my age they all look young) and asked if this was my property. I’m thinking, “Oh, boy, now I’m definitely in trouble.” I indicated it wasn’t but I was just trying to get the weeds under control on a derelict piece of land and showed her where my property ended. I encouraged her to drive a little farther down the road and see what I’d done with my property. She drove down to have a look at Terra Nova Gardens and gave me the thumbs up when driving out of the neighborhood. I drew a sigh of relief as I watched her disappear up the road.

The best is yet to come. Two weeks ago on a Friday the door bell rang. A man with a clip board was standing by the front door when I opened it. My first thought was “Oh, boy, another survey.” He announced that he represented the EPA (yes that’s the Environmental Protection Agency) and showed me an address on his clip board. “Is this your property?” he asked with a smile on his face. It was the address for Terra Nova Gardens. “Yes,” I said wondering what I was getting into now. He wanted permission to test the property for lead. The dilemma was now if I sign giving them permission they will most likely find it there but if I don’t, they can do it anyway and probably make life uncomfortable for me. I signed with the hope that they wouldn’t find lead.

The next time I went to Terra Nova Gardens, I asked the neighbors about this and they indicated that yes the EPA has tested many other properties around the neighborhood and found lead in the soil. Then they scraped about 6 to 8 inches of top soil off the land and replaced with “good top soil.” So the bottom line is they may scrape all the mulch off the land and replace it with dirt. (Big Sigh) Oh, well, I covered it this year so I can do it again next year with good neighborhood mulch.

It seems that I’m really getting the shake down but I’m still standing. And so the adventure continues.

Until the next time keep your fences horse high, bull strong, and pig tight.

Published on Dec 3, 2013

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