Monday, July 27, 2009

Carrotmobs: Coming to Philadelphia

Carrotmobs, similar to flashmobs but completely different from protests and boycotts, are coming to Philadelphia. What is a Carrotmob? Carrotmobs encourage business to implement more environmentally sound policies by directing customers and sales to the business during a targeted time. The aim is to show the strength of green movement and to show how much money we have to spend, thereby encouraging targeted businesses to go greener.

The organizers work to identify businesses that are open to the message and that may have existing plans to become more environmentally sound. The Carrotmob organizers and the business arrange a time and date, then ask supporters to come and shop. It's been so successful in some cities that Carrotmobbers form long queues just to make a purchase!

Carrotmobs started in San Francisco and are spreading around the country. Philadelphia is one of the earlier growth sights! There are also offshoots in Europe. To participate, you just have to shop at the right time and place. To learn the right place and time, you have to visit their blog or follow them on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Recycling More Than Ever: way to recycle, Philly!

Single stream recycling has increased Philadelphia's recycling rates by 46%. Our beautiful recycling trucks have collected 75,060 tons of household waste between June 2008 and June 2009. Philadelphians now recycle approximately 12.4% of their household garbage.

While this is exciting news, it's still too low. It's below the national average and is significantly lower than the 25% target rate established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the 1980s. In other words, although we've improved, we're still behind.

How can we continue to boost our recycling rates? Recycle bank pays citizens to recycle in the form of coupons and cash. Philadelphia has not joined this popular program. Fines, unpopular sources of revenue in this tight economy, are proven ways to increase participation. There is anecdotal evidence of stepped-up enforcement but the truth is that Licenses and Inspections inexplicably laid off enforcement agents to meet Mayor Nutter's budget.

While Philadelphia's recycling participation has improved, we still have miles to go. Recycle Bank and enforcement can help increase participation city-wide and should be used to expand participation. Keep up the great work and keep moving forward, Philly!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July Potato Harvest

After I heard rumors that in some US climates, gardeners can plant potatoes in the fall, Ms. Philly Organic decided to try. We dug a nice deep row and planted potatoes, each one separated by the length of Mr. Philly Organic's foot. Underneath the potatoes, we left a little leaf litter to create warmth for the spuds, then we immediately hilled them.

The idea is that the potatoes will begin to develop a healthy root system in the fall, which will be warmed and protected in the winter by the decomposing leaf litter. No green shoots will appear until spring but they will appear much earlier than they would if you waited for the ground to warm up before planting. The root system will begin to grow potatoes right away, instead of needing time in the spring to develop and grow.

We saw our potato flowers early and Mr. Philly Organic tasted a couple, pronouncing them unbelievably delicious. This week, Ms. Philly Organic noted that the tops of the plant were dieing and so it was time to harvest! The above picture shows our yield from our lightly amended, compacted, clay soil.

The beauty of growing potatoes in the winter is that it allows for a dual harvest each year. After digging the potatoes, Ms. Philly Organic planted some beans and onions. A row of corn is growing in nicely behind the location for the row of potatoes. Potatoes are economic and easy to grow, even for beginners. Simply plant whole, partial, or even peels (tested years ago by Ms. Philly Organic and her mom). This fall, give up a flower bed to grow a few potatoes!