29 May 2006

The Garden Claw really works - 28 May 2006

Yes. it does. I received a Garden Claw in a Freecycle[TM] request and I used it today.

The Car Barn site has been neglected. It is not on my way to work anymore, so I don't pass by it on a regular basis. Over the winter and early spring, a tough grass started to grow along with the usual horsetail, so it was time to clean it up. My cheapo hoe/rake combo with the telescoping handle wasn't strong enough, so I took my garden claw, a real hoe [picked up at a garage sale for two bucks!!] and a mini shovel down today.

It worked perfectly! I would stick the claw in the ground, twist and all the grass and weeds were uprooted immediately. All I had to do was shake the dirt off of them after picking them up and toss them in the bike box.

That took four hours, but I hardly noticed the time going by.

I thought of stopping half way through but I didn't feel sore or as tired as I had at other times. By the end, my back was stiff, so I'll have to be careful over the next few days.

As I moved my way down the bed, I planted a viola, six calendula and five nasturtiums that I bought from Planting Seeds Project. I spread crimson clover throughout the bed. I filled and emptied the bike box of grass and weeds twice. By the end, the whole look of the space was much better, with only the plants I wanted in the ground.

Felt great. But it won't last. Already big changes are happening in the area as the 2010 Olympic Village is being constructed.

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19 May 2006

Website keeps secrets about composting workshop - New Zealand

I found this article [see below] about an upcoming composting workshop in New Zealand. I like to go to the source of the news item whenever possible, so I took spin on the web.

When I found the Hawkes Bay Regional Council's website "composting" was not listed in the Waste section. Huh?! Composting not mentioned in waste? That's how they do it in Christchurch and where I live too. I hunted around a bit looking for clues. It was not going well.

Eventually, I had to search the site using the word "compost", which led me to the Home page - I thought that was an error - until I saw the third box from the top of the middle column that says: "Free Community Compost Workshops." No, I did not feel silly; I was frustrated. And this is why:

Take a look at the main menu bar along the top. I went to the Waste section first. The closest match I could find to a workshop was Waste Education which leads to a page called Environment Education. There is a link in the word "community". Guess where it goes: the Home page!! Until I noticed the announcement, I thought it was a programming error. Maybe it is.

Okay, so the link works. Great!! Now, I'm going to work backwards. The workshops are listed under Environment Education [look at the menu tree on the left side of the page - it is not part of the Waste section anymore] in an area called Community. If clicking the "community" link had brought me to that page, I would have felt a lot better. But, even on that page the composting workshop is not listed!!. Looking only at the left menu tree, I had to click one more time to finally get to the page I wanted.

Not a user friendly web design.

Hawkes Bay Today

Composting secrets uncovered



The Beauty of Compost Heaps - isn't an avant-garde art competition entry, but Marion Thomson's view of a working, waste-reducing heap.

To Mrs Thomson, co-ordinator of the Environment Centre HB, putting anything organic into a compost heap rather than a landfill is "the supreme environmental act".

Wipe out Waste and the Sustaining Hawke's Bay Trust have organised workshops where people can learn about composting.

Many people did not know that 45 percent of the average household rubbish bag could be composted, she said.

"If everyone with the facilities had their own compost heap, worm farm or bokashi bucket system working, we could reduce landfill use tremendously and also avoid burying valuable nutrients and trace minerals so deep in the ground to be of any use at all."

Dominic Salmon, waste minimisation officer at the Hastings District Council, said 26 percent of the average rubbish bag was food waste, 19 percent was garden material, and 23 percent paper.

Some people think composting is old-fashioned, but Mr Salmon said "it doesn't have to be hard work".


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18 May 2006

From Gristmill: Weed 'em and reap

Practical advice for the novice composter:

Weed 'em and reap

"What you can put in to your compost pile depends a little on your method. An active composting fanatic who builds the perfectly mixed carbon/nitrogen ratio pile and turns it every three days for three weeks, ensuring temperatures above 120 degrees at the middle of the pile, can be adventurous with ingredients. However, if you are a laissez-faire composter, your pile is simply a mound of weeds left to its own devices, and you intend to put it back on the garden, then you should follow fairly strict guidelines."

"The broad rule is, don't compost any plant bit that you don't want to see again."


If you used the bokashi method, pickling/fermenting the organic matter will render weeds ungrowable after they have been processed. This is an experiment which needs to be done. There is lots of field bindweedaka "morning glory" [usefull rating: 1{lowest} out of 5] in my backyard.

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16 May 2006

Montreal - The Rooftop Gardening Project

"The Rooftop Gardening Project is an innovative partnership between Alternatives, an international cooperation network, and Santropol Roulant, a community organisation in Montreal. Together we are making widespread rooftop gardening a reality in Montreal and around the world."

Good links section too.

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14 May 2006

Recent links added in delicious


from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Fermented fruits and vegetables. A global perspective.
from the FAO - Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation technology in the world.

White Clover versus Fescue: A Cultural Examination of the Green Stuff

Biosa Bokashi in the news - 14 May 2006

I track news stories about composting and other items of interest for the business that I am working on. A few weeks ago, I saw a story about a proposed compost facility near Sunol, CA which residents were opposed to. I wrote an email to the citizen group and told them about the advantage of Biosa Bokashi for reducing odors in solid waste management situations.

About ten days later the reporter from the paper called me and we had a conversation about why I sent the email and what Biosa could do for the facility.

Apparently I wasn't the only one and the result was a news story that appeared today:

Sunol compost plan gets noticed
Controversy swirls, even outside California

Al Pasternak of Vancouver, Wash.,[sic] works for Biosa Bokashi Composting, a company that advocates composting through "friendly microorganisms," such as bacteria and fungi.

"It looks like the community doesn't want it at all and the county is saying, 'Too bad, we're building it,'" he said. "In my reading of news reports, it's an issue for every compost facility out there. There is always the issue of smell downwind."

I'm in Vancouver, BC of course and the article doesn't mention that Biosa can be used for odor control.

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05 May 2006

Budget: $100 per child - "Who benefits most? Surprise!"

Was searching Flickr for images tagged chart and found this one from onshi

Yes, that's right: the only families that will see anything close to the $1,200-per child Harper promised at election time will be
one-earner (read: stay-at-home-mom'd) households earning $200k.


Read more

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36 month average retail gas price chart and crude oil - Vancouver, BC

I was going to write about the laws of unintended consequences regarding the use of bio-fuels as a replacement for fossil fuels after reading this article Feeding Cars, Not People and within a few minutes found this:

36 month average retail gas price chart and crude oil - Vancouver, BC

36 month average retail price chart - Vancouver, BC

You have to click on this image, then click on "All Sizes" to see the original image.

From http://www.vancouvergasprices.com/

Even if you don't drive - I don't - the cost of goods and services will go up as the price of fuel increases. As people spend more money on putting gas in their cars, they will spend less on eating out, shopping, entertainment which may cause those industries/businesses to earn less, lay off workers, close.

Unintended consequences indeed.

P.S. See "x Peak Oil affects everyone" links in left column near the bottom

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03 May 2006

Lecture: Saving Seeds as if our Lives depended on it

Necessary Voices Society

Vancouver Public Library

Dan Jason
Saving Seeds as if our Lives depended on it

Dan Jason is the director of Canada’s Heritage Seed Program and the co-author of The Really Whole Food Cookbook and Living Lightly on the Land. He and his partner own and operate Salt Spring Seeds, an organic seed company on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. He recently pioneered The Seed Sanctuary.

His latest book, "Saving Seeds as if our Lives depended on it" describes in four parts the critical importance of this new social movement and how can you start to save your own seed. (This event was produced by The Vancouver Public Library and Necessary Voices Society.)

See also: http://www.seedsanctuary.com/

I plan to attend....

01 May 2006

Clearing out stuff

I'm working on decluttering my suite.

Every day I am going to leave with some paper products that will be put in a community recycle bin near my work.