Find Garden Gold by the Railroad Tracks

The author discovered hanging around the rail yard benefited his garden as he collected the discarded peat moss.

| July/August 1976

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    You never know what useful items might be found by the railroad tracks.

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"Gold," they say, "is where you find it." And Armand Ferrara "strikes it rich" down by the railroad tracks.

You've heard of bird watchers. Well, I'm a railroad siding watcher . . . and my garden is better off for it.

Hanging around freight train sidings may not exactly be your idea of a good time—and I don't blame you—but what if I told you that a bonanza of free gardening supplies awaits you down by the tracks? It's true.

I learned this interesting fact one day as I sat drinking coffee in a restaurant that happened to be across the street from some train sidings. I'd been idly watching the day's unloading activities, when suddenly it dawned on me that—not ten yards away—men were hastily transferring bags of peat moss from a boxcar to the back of a truck (thence to be driven away to a landscaping or garden shop, no doubt).

"The vegetables and flowers in my garden could sure use some of that moss," I thought silently. Of course, like many other green-thumbers, I was accustomed to buying several bags of sphagnum each year to use as mulching material and to loosen up the clayey soil at the rear of my garden. And like all the others, I'd discovered that [1] a few bags won't go very far and [2] any truly useful quantity of the organic material is prohibitively expensive.

You can well imagine how shocked I was, then, to witness the deliberate dumping of several bales of "brown gold" (each of which had split open in transit or during the unloading process) on the ground along the siding as the truck was being loaded.

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