This year we’ve decided to try a new crop to our little urban garden. Potatoes! Yukon gold in fact. I tried going the cheap route and bought some from the grocery store. After a couple of weeks trying to sprout them, I read that sometimes potatoes are soaked in something to prevent them from sprouting. Euw! Not sure what that is.
So then I decided to order “official” seed potatoes. By the time they arrived my grocery store ones started to sprout. Of course! So if the potatoes work, I will be rich with them. The potatoes are from a place in Colorado called The Potato Garden.
And since my soil is lousy and filled with glass, I looked into suitable containers for growing them. You have to have something that is deep, so you can keep adding soil (hilling) as the plants grow. This keeps the potatoes from getting hit by the sun, which causes them to turn green and be bitter. I found Smart Pots and ordered 2 of them. They are made out of a sturdy fabric. I thought I would give them a try.
placing one of the seed potatoes
As usual, I have to put my garden behind bars to keep the squirrels from destroying the unestablished plants.
potatoes planted and behind bars
I’m very excited about the addition to NYC’s recycling program to include for the first time the recycling of all rigid plastics, including toys, hangers, shampoo bottles, coffee cups and food containers. The expansion of plastics recycling – which began April 24th – is part of the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan and is made possible, in part, through a partnership with SIMS Municipal Recycling whose recycling facilities are equipped to handle the broad range of plastic recycling. The recycling expansion will result in more than 50,000 additional tons of waste a year no longer ending up in landfills at a savings to City taxpayers of almost $600,000 each year in export costs, and for rigid plastics, it is recommended that New Yorkers should rinse and recycle it. The City will also expand the organics recycling pilot under way in public schools in Brooklyn and Manhattan to residents in the Westerleigh neighborhood of Staten Island next month, to other neighborhoods this fall and to all City schools over the next two years. The food waste composting pilot cut the amount of garbage participating schools sent to landfills by up to 38 percent. Both programs are part of the City’s effort to make recycling easier for New Yorkers. Earlier this year, in his State of the City speech, Mayor Bloomberg promised an expansion of the recycling program, renewing the Administration’s commitment to doubling the City’s recycling rate to 30 percent by 2017.
This information came from the city. While this is a huge step forward in the city’s recycling program, I’m still shocked that we’re aiming towards a goal of 30% recycling.
I remember *years* ago going to San Francisco and noticing that they have baskets on their public trash cans where you could drop your recyclable drink bottles and cans. It made a tremendous amount of sense and I could never figure out why a great city like NYC couldn’t do something so simple. The city would never even need to pick up the recyclables, because the city’s homeless and impoverished would scoop them up for the $.05 deposit. Honestly this city’s best recyclers are our homeless!
Dance of the Honey Bee from AbelCine on Vimeo.
This is a nicely made video discussing honeybees and how they interact with us and our environment.
A few weeks ago when we were up in the Berkshires, a lovely woman and I struck up a conversation. After telling me that she raises alpacas and we discussed that we were both spinners, she offered me some of her alpaca fiber. We went to her home where she proceeded to give me a whole trash bag full! There were 3 colors -black, white and camel.
I am so greedy that I couldn’t turn it down. And quite honestly I have pretty much zero experience carding wool. There was one time that my spinning group went in on a jacob fleece, but the fleece was such low quality and a nightmare to work with that it scarred all of us for years. Seriously. That was over 10 years ago and it still comes up in conversation.
Anyhow, I emailed my spinning group to see if anyone had a drum carder I could borrow. One woman answered my call, and in fact told me I could keep her carder. This was a huge score, because drum carders are quite expensive and I could never justify buying one and having it sit under my bed most of the year.
Now, I had some deranged notion that drum carders would make the process of carding super quick. Ha ha ha ha. I guess it’s quicker than taking two hand cards (which look a lot like big dog brushes) to card all the fiber. I should have realized that if I’ve slipped down the slope of spinning my own yarn, that speed isn’t really in the equation. I’ve been carding here and there for a few weeks. Today I finished the rest of the camel color (I had finished the black a couple of weeks ago) and just started in on the white. Alpaca is interesting in that it isn’t greasy like sheep wool. You can card and spin it dirty and wash it when it is in yarn form. There is a good amount of hay and debris that needs to be shaken and combed out of the fiber before carding. I am not great at that and keep telling myself that I will spin a “rustic” yarn. That’s code for justifying my laziness in case that wasn’t totally obvious.
Here are some carded batts, which is the term for the carded fiber that you pull off the drum carder. It looks disturbingly like human hair to me. After I card it once, I pull a few of the batts apart, lengthwise and re-card them together. That way if I have a section of shorter fiber, it gets spread out throughout all the batts. I then roll the batts in a little bundle to store until I’m ready to spin them.It’s going to be a while before I get to these. I have a project on my wheel, which has been sitting ignored for a few weeks while I knit baby clothes for a good friend.
We’ve been out enjoying the warmer weather these days. Last weekend we went to buy some new pine chips for the chicken run. Their run was mostly dirt, which might not bother the hens at all, but definitely was ugly and also caused dirty eggs.
What is usually a no-brainer errand turned into a bit more of a challenge. Both Lowe’s and Home Depot seemed well-stocked with wood chips. But on closer inspection, they had dyes embedded in them. All of them! And not only were they colored, but the dyes were guaranteed to last something like a year. This was definitely something that I thought would be an environmental and chicken health nightmare. I finally found undyed chips at Home Depot by a company called Great Gardens that is a part of the Long Island Compost project. I had never heard of them, but if you take a peek at their link, you can see some of the great work they are doing. I was much happier buying organic chips for my chickens to run around in, so it was a win-win.
The girls were happy because they got to run around the garden wreaking havoc.
And there were a few plants starting to poke out of the ground..
Parsley, chives and lemon balm
It was a good day in the garden. I emptied out my compost bin and enriched the soil in my pots and various beds.
Hope you are all enjoying the day and doing something to care for the planet.
I helped organize a celebration at my daughter’s school. One of the many great organizations that came was MillionTreesNYC. They gave a workshop on taking care of newly planted street trees. The kids and parents were given tools and gloves and shown how to weed the tree pits and then aerate the soil for better water retention. I thought they would weed one or maybe two tree pits, but they actually did about a dozen of them.
This is the same organization that my daughter’s Girl Scout troop volunteered with to plant trees. They are an amazing organization. I highly recommend volunteering with them, it was by far the best organized and best run events I’ve ever participated in. They’ve reached 700,000 of their million tree goal for planting trees in NYC!
National Geographic (along with Shell) are issuing an Energy Challenge. On National Geographic’s website you can take their challenge and participate in their Energy Diet.
To do the 360 degree Diet, you need to create an account first and then you can answer questions about your energy consumption. Here’s the link to finding out if you are energy-wise or an energy waster. Even if you don’t take on the energy diet challenge they have suggestions for each month on things you can do to reduce your energy consumption. For May it says to hang your clothes to dry instead of using the dryer. You can also use a high-spin option during the wash and the moisture sensor on your dryer.
I think there will be a new global 360 degree diet beginning in a few weeks. I’m going to utilize some of their suggestions for lowering our energy consumption. I answered the questions to determine my personal energy meter and I scored pretty well. I seem to be 86% lower than the national average. There’s always room for improvement though.
What do you do to save energy? Any fun plans for Earth Day?