Garden, Humor
Comments 4

Trash picking for winter lettuce.

It’s more complicated than that title makes it seem. With some in-between formative steps.

The WideEyedSpouse and I walk the Useless Little Black Dog and the Corgi for several blocks through the neighborhood every evening. This is terrible in the winter, mostly. It is nice in the summer, generally. It is ALWAYS great on trash day.

Because we live in a neighborhood of historic homes filled with epic volumes of historic junk, someone is always prying something out of the basement or off of the house. I scored a china cabinet that reeked of basement mildew two years ago. It is now my garden tool shack in the garage. Elegant, efficient, free. From Spode to Spades. (I know, right?)

The trick is to get there quick. Super quick because as I’ve noted before, Buffalo has an active trash picking culture. My amateur attempts are pathetic compared to the experts.

We moved into this house and set up the garden four summers ago. I’ve been waiting for someone in the neighborhood to replace their generously sized divided light windows for all of that time. I’m going to make a cold frame for winter lettuces. Sure, there have been windows out to the trash, lots of times. They were too small, not divided, broken, or the pickers got to them before me because they were so obviously awesome and worth something to someone. And sure, I can buy greenhouse panels to make a cold frame but why when there’s all this free stuff going out to the trash?

This was the week my friends. Up on Summit, where the houses are big and the windows are wide, someone tore out their near perfect condition divided light sashes and put them out to the curb in a tidy unbroken stack. Hamish and I approached them first and I chased him away from his obvious intent to pee on the stack. “Cut it out,” I told him, “some of those are ours.” He looked at me like, “that was exactly my point.” The Spouse and Miss Tibbit came up. “What are you doing?” The Spouse asked in his suspicious, high toned query voice. He knew full well what I was doing and wanted nothing to do with it. “Score,” I said, “I’m coming back for these.” I think the Spouse rolled his eyes but if he did he made sure his back was to me a little bit.

Hamish and I stepped smart for the rest of the walk. We made a veggie lasagna and tossed it in the oven for an hour. I didn’t even care, all I could think about was my windows laying all unprotected on the street. I was heading for the car when I noticed that the grass was sort of really, really long. I mowed it super quick. I yelled down to the basement where the Spouse was doing something with the fitness gear, “I’m going to get my windows!”

The Pathfinder and I hove to the curb next to the window stack. “Yeah,” I muttered to myself, “but don’t be greedy.” Afraid I wouldn’t listen to myself, I grabbed the first two on the stack and fled.

My new cold frame lids.

My new cold frame lids. The white ones. The brown ones I got at a salvage reuse STORE before I understood. Besides, they don’t have windows in them. And they are the garden fence not cold frame parts.

And there they are. Resting against the garage, the tops of my cold frames. Now. Now I am on the lookout for junky old bookcases to act as the frame of the cold frames. They always show up around this time of year when the college students move in and out. I just have to be patient. And quick.

The garden today. Notice the grapeless vines, the pear-less trees, the unripe tomatoes. Frederico the Falcon is NOT deterring the pest.

The garden today. Notice the grapeless vines, the pear-less trees, the unripe tomatoes. Frederico the Falcon on the Pergola is NOT deterring the pests.


  1. Recycling at its best. Makes me remember when we were moving out of the Green St condo, we carried a complete computer desk out to the curb. It lasted almost 5 minutes. We heard it being rolled down Green Street, the lucky owner, phone on his shoulder as he pushed it, likely making a deal to sell it. And why not? Free stuff, tax-free stuff!

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