Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fun with Recycling: part 3

From this:

to this:

These gates are "dutch" meaning the top portions open while the bottom portions can remain closed, keeping the dogs inside the courtyard. There are no metal fasteners in these gates: just mortise and tenon joinery.

While the other projects I have shown take very little time and skill to construct, these gates took about a weekend worth of time and some specialized tools.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Winter, and Christmas time in particular, brings out the sentimentalist in me. So here's a poem I wrote the other day to celebrate the tenacity of nature.


This Tuesday morning is as cold as Monday
Swept up in a drift of three days uninhabited
The smell of a barn long vacated

I swing around the corner in a white Ford
Looking for signs of weekend hooliganism
None to see, just piles of leaves

Piles of leaves shaped like a mini Kilimanjaro
Her head amid gusty clouds
Except here its restless leaves rustling

And I stop to reconnect with the first heap
Not the most important heap we have
Just the first one I see on this Tuesday morning

To see if it’s steaming, water vapor rather,
To see if it’s vaporing away like it should
Like it did yesterday morning

It is my rock, my one true thing, my Kilimanjaro
This first pile of compost I see
Decomposing because I came to work, once

Regardless of how my weekend went


Happy Holiday.
Be safe.
Make Compost

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How to figure a good carbon: nitrogen ratio

Here's a good site to help determine a good ratio for backyard composting.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Climate Masters Class Offered in Albuquerque

State's Second Climate Masters Class Offered in Albuquerque

The New Mexico Environment Department will be offering a Climate Master class in Albuquerque beginning in January, 2010. The inaugural class in Santa Fe this past spring was a resounding success and class participants have already logged over 155 volunteer hours.

The Climate Masters Program is a 10-week free series of classes focused on climate change and what you can do to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions in your daily life. Class topics include Climate Change 101, Home Energy, Water, Transportation, Green Building, Renewable Energy, Yards, Consumption and Waste, Food, and Outreach and Consultations. Local experts in these fields will discuss the topics, climate change and what individuals can do.

Climate Masters is modeled after the Master Gardener program. This program is a two-part educational effort, in which community members are provided 30 hours of training and in return they "pay back" the program through 30 hours of volunteer service in the year following the training.

On average, students that take the class can reduce their own personal emissions by approximately 2 tons per year. Individual action is critical to solving the climate crisis because individuals are the end users of most energy production via home heating and cooling, appliances, food, travel and embedded energy in products that we throw away. Climate Master will provide training, specific tools and methods that will enable participants and others in making a difference.

Registration is required. The deadline to register is January 8, 2010. The class is limited to 25. See the following website for the registration application www.nmenv.state.nm.us/aqb/NewMexicoClimateMasters

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Polar Bear Swim

Most of you, if you've been to the site in these winter months, have been alerted to the Polar Bear Swim I host every year. I t started with just me and two neighborhood teenagers, then grew and grew. This year we have people traveling from as far as San Francisco to attend.

Basically, I have an in ground pool that gets a lot of use by friends and strangers alike in the summer. But in the winter, it just sits there. So one year, I believe it was spurred on by the need to clear my head, on New Year's Day, we went for a dip. Sounds easy. I forgot to mention that we broke ice for the hour previous.

The first time, we just jumped in and out in about 3 seconds. We moved on to a lap width-wise then a lap length-wise.

Last year, my then 5 year old son shamed us all by jumping in first. He got so many accolades, that he jumped in again before we covered the pool up.
Everybody cheers and jeers, and has romping good time. Then it's inside to eat posole and clam chowder; drink more cocktails and sit by the fire; chat and watch the Rose Bowl.

So here's the flier:

Please join us for the 3rd Annual
Polar Bear Swim
Friday, January 1st, 2010
Noon -5:30pm

Sandhill “Community” Pool
03 Sandhill Rd.
walter@soilutions.net or 505.681.5371

This year we will again be attempting a FULL LAP (13 yd)
Hot Toddy’s, Warm Towels, a Burn Barrel, the Rose Bowl, and a Hearty Stew
will be provided. Caps generously provided by the Swim-Art. Other promotional consideration provided by
the San Francisco Dolphin Club

*All swimmers MUST be accompanied by a sane dry adult. Complete submission (overhead) is NOT required. Verification of availability of warmed towel strongly suggested before entering pool. Photographic evidence of participation will be provided upon request.

come on by, even if you don't want to swim. All are welcome.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Wreath Making Materials

We seem to be getting a lot of evergreen cuttings lately. I don't fancy myself a genus/species wank so I can't tell you what kind of evergreens, only that there are some short needled boughs and some long needled boughs and some blue spruce-y boughs.

We have juniper branches, too. I even saw some holly branches with berries!

Come on down and browse our brush pile. Take some fire wood home with you.

I never have the gumption or know how to make craft things like wreaths and garlands, but I know that there are plenty of people who do. It's a great time of year to be working with this aromatic material. Sitting by the fireside lacing popcorn and berries through the needles for the birds. How festive.

Don't forget to recycle you Christmas trees here when the time comes.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Erosion Control 101

Here are a couple of links that everyone should be aware of. They address some erosion control techniques. More importantly, I think it's great that Rio Rancho and the Flood Control Authority have the chutzpah to recognize that the way they did things in the past didn't work.

For a video starring our own Jim Brooks, click here:

For a downloadable brochure, click here:

There is also an quick news blurb on KRQE's site:

Jim will probably kill me for suggesting such a thing, but if you want him to come to your neighborhood association, or to give a day long presentation, his fees are reasonable and the knowledge gained invaluable.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Shopping Suggestion

The New Mexico Recycling Coalition (NMRC) has been chosen by Starlight Event Design to be a beneficiary of an online auction. All of the donated pieces are left over from a large fundraiser and the donors choose 3 non-profits to donate proceeds to from this online auction. NMRC is one of those! Bidding starts today, December 4th and closes on Sunday, December 6th at 8:00 pm. Do a little holiday shopping and benefit, NMRC. Auction items include:
*Spa treatments
*Architecture services
*Music lessons
*Photography sessions
*Tattoo gift certificates (you could always have the recycling symbol tattooed to your arm)
*Landscape Design services …… and more!
To view the items and start bidding, please click on


To get started view the catalog of items. Once you view the items you can click an item and make a bid. Visitor's will then be asked to register with the website so they can place a bid. They will create an account and then be able to actively bid on items. Visitors can view the catalog of items without registering. You MUST register in order to bid.

Winners will be able to pay for their items after we have closed the auction Sunday 8pm. An invoice will then be generated within 24hrs and emailed to the winner with a final total of items.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

When I started this blog, I was so looking forward to winter, this time of year in fact, because it would afford time to post regularly. I have a folder of all the ideas I was going to address, and the sheer lack of customers coming in the door would allow me to take each idea and cultivate it into full blooming recantations of life here at the compost site.

Well, it has definitely slowed down, but I find that there is truly not much happening here. I am not getting the daily phone calls of interesting questions. I have built and planted and watered and pruned and harvested almost everything available. So, before my boss reads this and starts wondering why he is still paying me, I will tell you of some on-going projects.

We screen our Topsoil Blend now. After collecting sod that people have judiciously recycled with us throughout the previous year, we blend it with Premium Compost and let nature work her magic for another year. Then, we move our screening plant out to the north ramp and start screening the large particles out. Screening Topsoil Blend is one of those endeavors that has come to signify both the end of the year and a bold statement for us of the hope for the coming year. It offers us a chance to begin our reflection on the year past but also to commit ourselves to the future. It's akin to tilling your garden in the fall.

We will also be working hard on developing a new mulch or two. Without getting into details, things changed rapidly in the landscape manufacture business this year. We see both an opportunity and a necessity to continue to develop and produce from locally recycled materials products that are useful and attractive.

With the seasonal decline in the number of retail customers, I get to get out of the office more. I have meetings with entities involved in the organics industry and I participate in the NM Recycling Coalition's many endeavors. I visit past, current, and prospective customers. I like to thank people who have spent time or money with us. One of the budding relationships about which I am really excited is a project with Gardener's Guild on Central. If you haven't checked them out already, do so.

We strive every day to give our customers a good product at a fair price. We want an educated customer. It is unfortunate that the season I have the most time to spend with curious gardeners is the season when no one is thinking about their gardens. So we spend a lot of time by the heater (and often times on top of a steaming compost pile) dissecting how we do what we do and how better to do it.

I guess there is more to do here than I had originally thought. Stay tuned for updates on the haps.