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Old 11-02-2006, 08:48 PM   #1
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Default Living Green.

Tina suggested I start a living green thread. I have no illusions about myself & don't pretend to be the 'green' expert. Nor do I pretend to know the final word on being green. But I would love to hear what you guys do to be green, no matter how insignificant you think it is. Any small effort benefits all of us. I would love to encourage people to at least try to be a better steward of earth.

My pet topic is biodiesel. I can give you pointers if you're considering ending your petroleum addiction. Future cars & trucks with new era diesel technology & Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel will be cleaner than gasoline engines plus get up to 40% better fuel economy. New diesels are as clean as a Prius & in my case of burning 100% biodiesel much cleaner than a Prius. Wow, my 3/4 ton truck is cleaner than a Prius, can you believe it? M.I.T. says total life cycle diesel/electric hybrids are as clean as a hydrogen fuel cell powered car. Cleaner if fueled by 100% biodiesel. You can't afford a fuel cell car even if they made one but in two or three years Honda will be selling diesels & diesel/electric hybrids. Honda aims to be the environmental auto maker.

Living green starts with conservation. Conservation doesn't get enough mention. It does not mean having to do without. If we use energy wisely we can still maintain our life style. One example is energy-wise florescent lighting. Only 11% of the energy incandescent bulbs consumes produces visible light, the rest is wasted as heat.

Something I do know about is organic vegetable gardening. I will gladly answer questions on small container vegetable gardening or backyard gardening. You won't believe how good food you have grown tastes. Plus there is a great feeling of satisfaction.

Recycling is another everyday commitment of mine. Of course, in Los Angeles county where we live recycling is easy- we just toss recyclables into a separate waste can for curb side pick-up. However, we do have to go out of our way to recycle all our used electronics. Did you know E-waste & batteries are considered hazardous toxic waste? The heavy metals in electronics leaches out of land fills & poisons our drinking water. E-waste is having a huge detrimental impact on the environment but not many people dispose of E-waste properly.

The steps to being green is a huge topic & I've only mentioned a few examples. What are you doing to help?

*Moderator's note: I have decided to move this thread to the lounge, with a shadow of it still in Hyde Park, because the environment is something of concern, I would thing, of every living being, and maybe because so many avoid HP, a lot of people were missing what I, and many others, have found to be a very valuable thread. Please feel free to contribute your ideas, also.
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Old 11-02-2006, 09:12 PM   #2
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I use public transport (I can't drive for medical reasons for some time but would do it anyway), and always recycle (the recycling bin is collected every second week). Every little bit helps. And we rigdidly adhere to the water restrictions currently in place.
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Old 11-02-2006, 09:55 PM   #3
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Bikes, people! OH HOW I LOVE THEE, BICYCLE!

Freddy Mercury knew what was going on! He sang her praises!

Bicycles are fantastic. ZERO DOLLARS AND ZERO GALLONS PER MILE. Does NOT contribute to environmental pollution (with the exception of the rubber tires and minimal amounts of grease).

You can take them on most public transport; they're fun to ride! You can ride with friends! You can all sorts of tricks with them, and compete too. They inject some sort of enjoyment into exercise.

Oh, and not to mention the HARD-ON (figuratively) that I get when I *saaaaaaail* passed cars stuck in traffic. Ha ha, suckahs.

And a good bike will only set you back 200 bucks. A tool kit? 20-30 bucks. You don't need insurance, but you'll want to consider a helmet and reflective materials if you ride at night.

And, when you're done with it, you can donate it, or upgrade! YAY!
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:33 PM   #4
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You ain't seen how hilly iy is round these parts.
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:53 PM   #5
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Thank you very much, biodieselman!

I made this thread sticky, because whether one agrees whether there is such a thing as global warming or not, it cannot hurt to do what we can to be good to our wonderful planet.

I request that only helpful, not argumentative, posts be posted, or they will be removed, as this is meant to be an informational thread. Thanks!


- Tina
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Old 11-03-2006, 01:35 AM   #6
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I do have questions about how to start container gardening. I live in an apartment with a patio, and have shade just about 50% of the day. I can't invest a whole heap of money into container vegetable gardening, but it would be nice to know what containers can be home made, if I can grow in the winter, and what best would grow in the conditions I have.
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Old 11-03-2006, 02:40 PM   #7
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I'm a horrible environmentalist/conservationist. I've surrounded by people who garden...even in the city...I know kids who use vegetable oil to run their cars or bike everywhere...I've got a far way to go.

I'm very interested in alternative fuel. I wish I would have stopped and thought about getting a diesel when I bought my car. Meh.

Next summer, gardening it is. If we all grew as much of our food as possible, the effects would be tremendous.

(I've got to get used to getting dirty!)
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Old 11-03-2006, 08:20 PM   #8
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Unfortunately, I live out in the middle of the woods, and it takes a 20 minute car ride to get anywhere. We're so far out in the middle of nowhere, we dont get public transportation. We also dont get garbage pick up. We bring it to a dump (actually, the correct term is "transfer station") So we depend a lot on our automobiles.

My family is big on recycling. Cans, bottles, paper... We used to have a good composte heap going, but I dont know why that stopped. Ive been thinking about starting it again next spring.
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Old 11-03-2006, 09:21 PM   #9
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Default Missaf & others in mild winter areas.

Container gardening is ideal for someone with limited space. Containers don't have to be expensive- I used Rubbermaid storage containers to grow tomatoes a few years ago. My supersize wife has lots of different herbs in pots that she grows year-round here in So.California. They don't take a whole lot of work to thrive and they get by on a few hours of sun during the day, even less during winter. She has a bad back, so I do any heavy lifting needed, but, by and large, she maintains them by herself. Tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers would be easy to grow in containers during the summer.

If you live the ocean or in extreme southern areas where you get few mild frosts, no frost is better, you can still plant cool season crops but hurry. Nurseries will soon be throwing away all their vegetable six-packs to make room for poinsettias. It would be best if you got at least 8 hours of full sun. Reflected heat from a wall will help offset cool night temperatures. It's recommended that you start small so gardening doesn't become a chore, it's supposed to be rewarding, not work. To save money on containers, I've seen people use the potting soil bags by themselves. Cut several small holes in the bottom for drainage & lay them flat. Shallow root plants like leaf lettuce will do just fine with one bag. Larger plants like broccoli & peas would benefit from two bags. Lay the first bag with drainage holes in the bottom flat where you want it & cut a large rectangular hole in the top but leave enough of the bag for structural support so the soil doesn't wash out. Lay the second bag right next to the first, cut several holes through out the top so roots will find a path down into the second bag. Use your best judgement on the hole sizes depending on how fast you think you can flip the bag over onto the top of the first, but not to where the bag won't hold in the soil. There's your containers. It would be preferable to find a cheap plastic shallow tray the size of the bag for a water catch basin & ease of watering, but isn't necessary. There will be some stains from water leakage but should wash up with a hose when watering.

I've already started my winter garden. I secession plant meaning I plant a few plants every month to spread out the harvest over time. Here is a list of cool weather tolerant crops you can probable find in nursery six-packs: Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard & sugar snap peas (yum, sugar snap peas). My favorites are broccoli, sugar snap peas & carrots because they don't require much care or insecticide. The crevices between the leaves in stuff like sprouts & cabbage are perfect hiding places for aphids, worms & slugs. When you grow your own food you soon realize how much insecticide Mr. Farmer has to use to produce blemish free crops.

I like broccoli because you can find 'branching' varieties that produce small side shoots after cutting the central head, prolonging harvest. Broccoli probably will have a few pests. Look closely underneath the head for tiny aphids. A strong spray of water will wash them off, but insecticidal soap is better. Safer's Insecticidal Soap is nontoxic to animals, that means me, but the oil & soap smother the little sapsuckers. If you see greyish/white butterflies, then look for cabbage loopers. Look carefully under the leaves for worms, they'll be the exact same color as the plant. Missing edges of leaves or holes are also a sign. There is a completely nontoxic, organic insecticide that kills worms called BT, bacillis thuringiensis, which can be sprayed on plants right up to harvest.

When you buy six-packs, you're buying the time it takes to get to planting size. Choose the plants with the thickest stem; it is normal for the stem right next to the soil to be thinner. Cabbage, brussel sprouts & broccoli, or cole crops, are some of the few plants that benefit from planting deeper than existing soil level. Plant them deep so the thick stem will support the plant. Cut holes in your bag & plant 18" apart.

Sugar snap peas are so sweet & delicious. You should still be able to find six-packs. Choose the 'bush' varieties so you don't have to get a trellis. They can be planted pretty close to each other & will sprawl all over the bags. Peas are relatively pest free, but try not to get the foliage wet. Peas are susceptible to a disease called powdery mildew, a type of fungus that looks like powdered dust.

Leaf lettuce six-packs should also be available & should do well with one bag. Seeds sprout quickly & there are many varieties. You can extend the harvest by only picking the larger outer leaves & leaving the rest to grow. Just be sure you thoroughly inspect & wash each leaf because you don't want to be showing off your home grown salad greens & have your guest find a slug.

Fertilize half strength each month with a vegetable fertilizer or get a time released fertilizer such as Osmocote. Osmocote is relatively expensive but you only do it once at planting time & forget about it. If you get a 'heat spell', we get dry windy 80 degree Santa Annas here in L.A. winters, you can water while at work by filling a one liter plastic soda bottle with water & turning it upside down into a hole in the bag. Stick your finger into the soil & it feels dry then water slowly by laying the hose in a hole & just barely turn the water on until saturated. You can over water.

Winter gardening is a pleasure in mild weather zones. Most bugs hibernate, the plants grow slower so there is no great rush, plus some crops fare better in cool weather. If you have an old table then you could put your bags on top of it so you don't have to bend over so much.
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Old 11-03-2006, 10:01 PM   #10
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OH, wow. Thank you so much! I learned more from your post than I did in 8 houts of web surfing for ideas.
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Old 11-04-2006, 02:46 PM   #11
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Default Fruits of my efforts

We took this photo this morning showing one of the rows of broccoli with the Twentieth Century Asian pear tree to the left and San Diego red bouganvillea behind me. The broccoli consists of three different varieties ripening at various intervals and are grown from seed by my wife. Super easy to germinate. I sprayed them today with the BT mentioned in my previous post, which is completely organic; no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used. This row of broccoli is about 10 feet long by 3 feet wide; I have 10 rows of staggered lengths with the smallest being about 6-1/2 feet long. This all fits in just one part of my backyard on an average sized lot here in So.California.

P.S. The white fuzzy Frowney Face I'm holding is Bubbles the Shih Tzu. My wife's dog. And, reluctantly, for he is not a man's man's dog, mine.
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Old 11-04-2006, 03:41 PM   #12
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Oh, great pic, bio. How did you end up with a breed of dog you are not thrilled with?

Missa, you might try picking up a copy of Sunset's Western Garden book. It is, IMO, the best, because you get lots of info from it, plus it shows the western U.S. broken down into zones and what grows best, and does not grow well, or at all, in each zone. Mine is packed away, dang it, or I'd quote from it for you, but it is kind of like the gardener's bible, if you're interested in going in that direction.
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Old 11-04-2006, 06:13 PM   #13
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Someone give me guidance: are there ANY vegetables that would grow totally inside in containers..michigan winter...no sunlight..grumble grumble.
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Old 11-04-2006, 09:14 PM   #14
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Default You can get a shovel through your frost line?

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Someone give me guidance: are there ANY vegetables that would grow totally inside in containers..michigan winter...no sunlight..grumble grumble.
Not without spending a lot of money & energy. Consult your local indoor hydroponic cultivating weed purveyor for technical support & lists of local hydroponic supplies vendors. Just look for the brilliant glints of light peeking through the holes in the aluminum foil covered windows.

You should be able to grow mushrooms indoors during the winter. Google 'mushroom growing kits'. There are many gourmet varieties available & vendors willing to help answer your fungi growing questions. I know, you weren't expecting a serious answer.
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Old 11-04-2006, 10:19 PM   #15
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Default Bubbles is named after our favorite 'Trailer Park Boys' character.

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How did you end up with a breed of dog you are not thrilled with?

Missa, you might try picking up a copy of Sunset's Western Garden book.
I asked Dee to post the Nov 4th garden picture with a brief explanation while I went to the store. I guess the dog explanation was her way of trying to sound 'biodieselmanly'. She doesn't work & the two Shih Tzu are her beloved companions. I don't require a rottweiler to feel manly. Don't tell anyone, but he is a cute little puppy.

Another excellent, more in depth reference manual is titled 'California Master Gardner Handbook'. It can be ordered from the University of California Agriculture and National Resources Communication Services at http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu..
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Old 11-05-2006, 01:32 AM   #16
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That's so funny, bio, because in reading the P.S. part it didn't really sound like something you would say, but hey, you never know. I see that Dee is michevious.

Hi Dee!
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Old 11-05-2006, 01:50 PM   #17
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What a great thread! Thanks for starting it.

For me, living where I do, it's tough. We're not set up for public transportation and since we've been having single digit temperatures, biking isn't really a viable safe option. But I do recycle, try to do all my errands at once, plug in our vehicles, etc. Also, since Burtimus and I are "cold" sleepers, the heat's turned way down at night.

I was at my conservationist best when I lived in Seattle. We had curbside recycling so we recycled a LOT. I had an organic garden, composted my own veggie and bunny waste, purchased from food co-ops and washed my kids' cloth diapers. I was in greenie heaven. We're not nearly so well set up here, and I miss it.
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Old 11-05-2006, 08:54 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Miss Vickie
I had an organic garden, composted my own veggie and bunny waste.
I worked with a guy who was Alaskan native & he had married a San Diego woman. She hated Alaska & made him move to San Diego. He hated San Diego & wanted to move back to Anchorage. Mark was also a gardner. He said the top soil is so deep & rich, he didn't need to amend the soil very much. The growing season is short but the really long sunlight hours allowed him to grow cabbages approaching the size of beach balls. I would guess timing planting is critical but cool weather crops should grow like weeds with that many hours of sun. The only real problem he had was critters.
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Old 11-06-2006, 11:49 AM   #19
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Not enough I'm sure. I have taken on the role of company recycler, and I take gobs of paper down to the drop off periodically.

I donate a little money to the Green Party. And I shop at the farmer's market as often as I can.
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Old 11-06-2006, 06:44 PM   #20
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We really do not have a good system in the apartment where I live to recycle much. We recycle aluminum and plastic, and I try to make scrap paper out of pages I've printed and don't use, or envelopes from mail and such. I also end up using the grocery plastic bags for trash bags for little trash cans. I'm not sure if that's good or not. There is so much more I could do, and know that I will in Montreal, where everyone recycles, even businesses.
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Old 11-06-2006, 07:41 PM   #21
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Default Every little bit helps.

It is difficult for small communities to fund comprehensive recycling programs. For recycling to be effective it has to be relatively easy for the individual & businesses. We live in Los Angeles county; recycling is mandatory. You can still toss recyclables in with regular waste, but it's just as easy to keep the recyclables separate and toss them in their own receptacle. Living in a city that makes it easy is no guaranty of cooperation. Just this morning I saw that some lowlife had dumped a mattress (not a recyclable, but rather an example of how lazy people can get when it comes to properly disposing of waste, let alone having a concern for the environment) in the cul-de-sac next to my house. P.O.S. The city-contracted waste removal company that we use provides a large item pick-up service but it requires a phone call. Some people!


Recycled materials need to be further separated at the landfill/dump/plant & there needs to be infrastructure to re-process recycled materials. The total recycling process is still in the infancy stage but we're getting there.

Did you know that in reality you're not recycling plastic. You are recycling the crude oil used to make plastics. Researchers are working on making plastics from corn oil & the indicators are positive.

You're not actually recycling aluminum either. Aluminum is the fifth most common element on earth. Aluminum, like hydrogen doesn't exist in elemental form. Both are tightly locked up in molecules that require great amounts of energy to break very strong chemical bonds in order produce the elemental form. That's why aluminum smelters are next to power plants. You're actually recycling the immense amount of energy required to make aluminum.

Another reason to recycle is that landfills are, well, filling up. Who wants a landfill to open up in their neighborhood? NIMBY! Recycle now and stretch the life of your local landfill.
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Old 11-07-2006, 09:32 AM   #22
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From reading this thread, I think it's clear that there are a lot of little things we can all do to help clean up the world around us. I care a lot about the real, concrete things in front of me, like clean air, clean water, landfills that aren't EXPLODING onto the street, and reusing stuff. Unlike some of the theoretical stuff, much of which is based on rather dubious information (we still can't reliably nail down a non-natural cause for periodic climatic fluctuations), we can see the little things, and we can do something about them. It's certainly better than pounding nails into tree trunks in the twisted hope of taking out a few unlucky loggers, or burning lots full of those awful, awful SUVs (thereby releasing vast amounts of toxic pollutants), or the other ridiculous things that give environmentalism of any variety a bad name.
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Old 11-07-2006, 01:47 PM   #23
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Oh and one more bit of a greenie idea. There are groups everywhere called "freecycle". We even have one here in Anchorage. People list the stuff they want to get rid of and arrange with others to pick them up. No money, no trading, just getting rid of stuff (some amazingly weird and cool stuff) that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Our local group is a Yahoo group. Not sure if they all are, but you can use The Google to find them. Awesome way of re-using and keeping those landfills manageable.
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Old 11-11-2006, 07:13 PM   #24
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Default It's hard being green. 30 gal of fuel cost me $16.50.

Whoa is me, it cost me $16.50 to fuel up my truck . Here's a picture of me pumping 30 gal of home-made moonshine into my fuel tank.

This is a photo of my biodiesel extractor. My own personal fuel refinery.

I used to laugh at people that plastered the back of their cars with bumper stickers & now I'm one of them. Don't laugh at me now, laugh at me as I drive by gas stations.

It's hard being green.
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Old 11-11-2006, 11:22 PM   #25
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Cool still, man. Bio, how big of a pain in the neck is it to do it this way? It seems like one would have to spend a lot on equiptment, and then what, run around to fast food places, asking for oil? As you can see, I simply have no clue when it comes to this.
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