This morning I dragged more cardboard out to my garden. Temperatures in the 40s had melted all the snow so it was easy to pick my way across the frozen ground that crunched under foot. I stepped into the fenced 15 x 20 foot space that in a few short months will be alive with tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and scallions.
But today it felt like walking through a cemetery. It was still and lifeless. Slabs of flat, brown cardboard covered the bare ground and were frozen into place. I slowly surveyed the blocks of scrap wood I’d placed at regular intervals to anchor the cardboard down. They looked like makeshift headstones marking the modest and untended graves of poor souls whose names had been long forgotten.
Some of the cardboard pieces were wet and limp, and hugged the furrows of last summer’s garden rows. The sturdier pieces – thick, packing boxes made of double wall construction — were still holding their shape, even after all the snow and freezing rain. I wonder how much the cardboard will have disintegrated by the time the weather is warm enough to start planting. I hope I will be able to simply lift the cardboard off the ground and drive it off to Roland and Bill at the local recycling center. My worst fear is that it will have turned into papier maché and will have plastered itself to the ground. I may have created a death mask for my garden.
Merrill Williams is the publisher of Maine Food & Lifestyle magazine.