Free Garden Stuff

I like finding stuff for free.

by Rick Gush
Rick has often found free plants near abandoned homesites and taken advantage of them, as seen here
Photo by Rick Gush

I like finding stuff for free. 

I’ve always found a lot of plants for free, often laying in the gutter, other times available for the harvesting, and often while adventuring around old, abandoned homesites. 

The first photo is of the Chionodoxa blooming in the potted plants section of our garden.  We dug these bulbs up in the garden of an abandoned villa last fall.  Seeing them all blooming now in their pots is nice, and I’m sure they’ll do well once planted into the garden.

Our garden includes a lot of things that were free for the taking.  A whole lot of the decorative plants were free, the bottles used to construct the terraces were free, the construction lumber and bamboo canes were free, and even some of the edible stuff, like the figs, plums, mushrooms, horseradish, wild arrugula, beet greens and wild asparagus were all free.

I certainly have enough money to buy whatever plants and building materials I need for my projects, but finding free stuff is sort of like a sport.  I imagine that finding free stuff used to be the primary means of gardening.  Now in this time of global-super-shopping capacity, finding free stuff is more fun than ever, sort of counteractively political.

The winter garden construction projects are just about finished now, and it’s time to focus on spring planting and cutting back the jungle of weeds.  I do still have one big project though, and that’s filling up the new lower bed, shown almost completed in the second photo for today. 

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Moving large amounts of soil around the garden is a daunting task.  The new bed is quite deep and will need about five cubic yards of fill soil, all of which will need to be carried by bucket. 

The dirt source for this planter is up at the very top of the garden site and is at least half rocks, so it will all need to be screened.  It’s mostly mineral, so I’ll add as much organic material as I can round up in the way of cow and steer manure, old leaves and our home-made compost.  

It takes about fifteen minutes to clean and prepare two buckets full of soil and carry them down to the terrace.  I’m calculating it will take around 200 trips with a pair of full buckets to fill the bed.   My back is aching and my waistline has diminished just thinking about the job.

I did finally plant the first tomatoes on Saturday, as that was the first day that the ground could really be worked.  We’ve got 12 Datterino plants now, and these will be one of the three key tomato plantings. 

The cherry and yellow pear bed will also be important, as will the sauce tomatoes bed.  I’ve got a few big black tomato seedlings in the coldframe too.  I got those for free from a friend, so of course, those will have to find a niche somewhere in the garden as well.


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