Dirt Blog

I went on a little adventure today. Flying solo, I went over to the Complexe environnemental de Saint-Michel for their annual distribution of free compost. I accidentally stumbled upon this when I was in an annoyed rage about a neighbour who is constantly dumping old furniture and garbage behind our garage in the alley. So while scouring the Ville de Montreal website for details on garbage, recycling, spring cleaning and complaining about it, I came upon this event and made a note of it on the calendar.

I never thought I was going go through with it: I assumed I would flake on it and nearly did. I plan to build a raised bed vegetable garden in the backyard and will obviously need a lot of dirt. So I drove over to this massive, landscaped industrial complex, and followed the spray-painted signs marked “COMPOST” into a dusty parking lot. After showing a proof of address I backed up to one of the several aisles of dirt, and started digging.

As I filled my two green recycling bins full of dirt, this wonderfully communal feeling came over me. Dozens of cars were similarly parked, with men and women of all ages filling bags, buckets, bins or whatever they wanted with this damp, dark compost. Where does it come from? How does the city make this stuff? Well, unlike many of Canada’s more progressive cities: “More than 47 per cent of waste produced by Montrealers is organic. At present, only 7 per cent of this waste is recovered and composted.” Which is precisely why I was so surprised that this huge, state-of-the-art recycling complex even existed in the first place.

Lots of homes in Montreal have their own ways of reducing organic waste “off the grid.” I’ve heard of people with trays of earthworms in their kitchens, pet rabbits or compost bins in their backyards. Then there’s us, who presently have a very prison-like backyard, so we reserve the still usable but not totally edible bits of vegetables (tops of leeks, bottoms of chard, flaccid celery, and “last legs” spinach stems) and pop them in the freezer until it’s time to cook up our monthly batch of vegetable stock.

So now the car is full of dirt. Just in the garage, full of bins of dirt and I wonder if that’s bad, as if we’ll go to the car in the morning and it’ll be full of potato bugs or something. Yuck. Hope not. Next weekend the city is giving away free flowers…I wonder if I should go for it?

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