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Friday, April 29, 2011

The Eco Watchdog: More information on recycling

The Eco Watchdog: More information on recycling: "The City of Albuquerque collects recyclable items as well as yard waste (i.e. grass clippings and leaves) in the spring and fall. Pick up da..."

More information on recycling

The City of Albuquerque collects recyclable items as well as yard waste (i.e. grass clippings and leaves) in the spring and fall. Pick up dates are listed on your monthly water bill. Yard waste is also accepted year round at neighborhood convenience centers.  A list of convenience centers can be found on the City of Albuquerque's website at: www.cabq.gov/solidwaste or call the Solid Waste Management Department and Recycling Hotline: 505-761-8100.

Accepted Recycling Materials are:
  • glass (any color)
  • paper
  • corrugated cardboard
  • all plastic bottles
  • tin
  • aluminum cans
Recycling bin locations for the Southeast area of the city are:

501 Elizabeth SE

1701 University SE 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Eco Watchdog: How to Start Seedlings in Your Kitchen

The Eco Watchdog: How to Start Seedlings in Your Kitchen: "Albuquerque residents have been experiencing a rash of high winds and cold temperatures lately. You would think that with Spring finally her..."

How to Start Seedlings in Your Kitchen

Albuquerque residents have been experiencing a rash of high winds and cold temperatures lately. You would think that with Spring finally here the winds would die down and the sun would shine brightly enough so that some of us could do some serious gardening! But no, weather in the Albuquerque metro area and New Mexico in general is fickle in early spring. A recent weather report confirmed snow showers in Chama! This is not unusual in New Mexico. As a result, gardeners in the Land of Enchantment have learned to be resourceful when starting their spring gardens. 

When planning a garden first decide what type of garden you want and how much space you have to work with. The books I've read state that the novice gardener should start out small because a larger more ambitious project can be overwhelming. The size of your garden also depends on what types of plants, fruits and veggies you are planning to grow.  Are you planning on planting a salad garden or do you want to make it through most of the winter without having to relie as much on your local grocery store. Either option can prove very economical if you live in an area like mine where fast food joints abound and grocery stores are a rarity. Just imagine the amount of money you'll save on gas if all you have to do is take a few short steps to your garden to harvest your produce!

Start your journey by visiting your local library. Gardening books are on display right now. Check out at least two or three books to use as reference. I'm using Rodale's Successful Organic Gardening; Companion Planting and finding it extremely useful. After you've conducted your research, decide what types of plants you want to grow. The next step is very important. Deciding where to purchase your seeds! I've obtained a lot of my seeds from the seed exchange in Old Town last month. Seed exchanges through gardening groups are a good way to get seeds for free and you can also gleam a lot of useful information during the process. I've also purchased some of my seeds at the Family Dollar Store in my area. Organic seeds can be purchased at any gardening supply store. There is also a good variety of organic seeds at the local Coop's. Folks at the Coop are very friendly and willing to offer a plethora of organic gardening information.

Your next big item purchase should be a bag of potting soil, preferably organic. While you are out purchasing potting soil check out the prices for seedling pots. Seedling pots are tiny pots made out of a paper like material that decomposes when you transplant your seedlings in your garden. If you feel like spending the extra money splurge and buy some, if not, use empty egg cartons. I usually have a stash of empty egg cartons on hand which I have acquired throughout the year. 

After you've purchased the main ingredients to start your seedlings go to your kitchen and clear off a table or small section of counter top and commence! Mix a couple of scoops of potting soil with some water in a bowl until the soil is just wet and pliable enough to scoop into the pots or egg cartons. Follow the instructions on your seed packets for each type of seed in order to determine what depth you should plant your seeds. I recommend using a small spoon to scoop the wet potting soil into the pots or egg cartons because it's easier to control the amount of soil you place in the pots. Some seeds like Marigolds require that you barely cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil while corn and pumpkin seeds require that you plant the seeds at a depth of four inches. 

After you've planted your seeds place the pots in an area where they can benefit from the most direct sunlight. Water your seedlings with a spritzer bottle set on "mist" several times a day. It is most beneficial to start your seedlings inside because most of New Mexico is in zone seven so the last frost in some areas  could be as late as May! Also, as we've seen lately, your seedlings will not be beat up by the winds outside!  

Seed germination varies so be patient, your seeds will sprout! Some will seem to sprout all at once like my radishes! Peppers, marigolds, and cilantro seem to take longer to sprout. I'm still waiting for my Marigolds to sprout as I write this blog but at least I won't have a shortage of radishes and tomatoes! Yummmmm! Happy planting!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Importance of Composting

Composting is a great way to recycle leftover organic material from your kitchen. Fruit and vegetable scraps, paper napkins and towels, coffee grounds and egg shells are the main ingredients added to a compost pile. One book I recently read  even suggested using cigarette butts! I've been adding my husbands cigarette butts to the family compost pile and they seem to be decomposing quite nicely for the moment. Until he decides to use the patch and ditch cigarettes all together!

Anyway, compost not only enables you to make good use of kitchen scraps it also helps amend the soil in your garden by adding much needed nutrients and improving it's texture. There are several different types of soil found in the Albuquerque Metro Area, sand, clay, and gravel mixed with sand or clay. Most of the soil found in our backyards is sandy and contains a high PH balance. The books I've read suggest that you test your soil to determine what the PH level is. You can either purchase a PH kit at a gardening supply store or mail samples of your soil to the County Extension Services. I believe the tests run around $15 per soil sample.

Once you have determined what type of soil you have in your backyard then you can figure out what nutrients you need to add in order to amend your soil. This also depends on what you are planning to grow in your garden. Different fruits and vegetables derive varying levels of nutrients from the soil. For example pumpkins and corn require a lot of nitrogen in order to thrive. This can be added to your solid by adding grass clippings, coffee grounds, paper, and leaves to your compost bin.

Starting a compost bin is relatively easy. You can start by purchasing a black plastic garbage pail and gradually fill it up with compost materials. Make sure that you punch a few holes at the bottom of the trash can to let your compost aerate.  Remember to "turn" your compost pile every two days with a shovel or pitch fork so that the materials decompose evenly. It is also recommended that you build a bin out of wood pallets, hay bales, concrete blocks or any other materials that will contain the compost. Your bin should be square shaped. Each panel should be approximately three to four feet high, wide, and deep. Experienced composters recommend building several bins. One should be devoted to mature or ready to use compost, while the others should be devoted to maturing compost.

Compost can also be purchased from local gardening supply stores. However, it's much more fun and economical to make your own!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The importance of "Greening" getto

After reading author, activist, Van Jone's book, The Green Collar Economy, I have decided to create a blog dedicated to sustainability in the economically disadvantaged neighborhoods of Albuquerque, NM. By sustainability, I am referring to urban farming, recycling and basically living a "green" lifestyle , which can be a challenge in these neighborhoods. Please note that the term "ghetto" is merely used as a slang term for economically disadvantaged neighborhoods. The sometimes negative connotation derived from the word "ghetto" should not take away from the rich diversity and many positive attributes found in like neighborhoods across Albuquerque.

However, living  a "green" sustainable lifestyle is challenging in poorer neighborhoods because of the high price of good quality food, distance to grocery stores that sell organic and or natural food, and the general lack of resources available for residents to live a more "green" sustainable lifestyle. One of the topics I will cover and challenge this week is the issue of recycling in neighborhoods. I have noticed that in my neighborhood, the international district, few is any residents recycle. Recylce bins are not available since residents belong to one of the city's "test areas". Residents who wish to recylce are encouraged to place all  recyclable items in white plastic garbage bags provided by the city. Unfortunately, if you are one of the lone recyclers on the block, like myself, the yellow recycle truck bypasses your area entirely. I had to place a call to the city last week to request a pickup. Pickups are schedules for the following 24 hours after the initial call. This can be frustrating for the well meaning recyclers who have
to wait an extra day. Residents who live in neighborhoods where blue recycle bins are present are more likely to recycle.

I propose that the city offer recycle bins to all neighborhoods where residents show an interest in recycling. Perhaps residents who recycle should be given an incentive in the form of a rebate or a reduction in their trash bill. For those interested in recycling remember almost any kind of plastic or metal can be recycled! Just look for the recylce sign in the container you food comes in! Glass containers must be taken to specially designated places to be recycled. I'll look these places up and post them on this blog for those who are interested.

Another topic I mentioned earlier is the availability of reasonably priced, good quality, organic or natural food. I have noticed that there are more fast food places than grocery stores within walking distance in my area. A gallon of milk is at least one dollar more if purchased at a convience store as opposed to a gallon of local milk purchased at the Coop in Nob Hill. Yes, buying local is becoming more affordable everyday! The Coop also accepts SNAP benefits. While you're there shopping for your weeks groceries check out the bulk food sections. You'll find items such as rice, honey, sugar, olive oil and many more items, at prices that rival the big chain stores! I strongly encourage people to take the trip, whether it be by bus or car, one of the Coop's in the city and purchase groceries. By doing so you'll be supporting the local economy and you'll take pride in being able to feed your family some of the best quality food available.

The next topic I'd like to address is sustainability. If you have a large backyard or patio why not grow some of your own food so that you don't have to rely so much on the grocery store. I will discuss backyard farming in future articles and interview local backyard farmers. There's also someone in my neighborhood who has some chickens! If you're reading this blog, please respond! I'd like to discuss raising chickens in the city! Well, that's all for now! Someone is hungry and would like to go to Mc Donald's. I'm going to have to go offline  and find a more healthy lunch alternative!