Thursday, September 30, 2010

A look inside the GEEP Edmonton e-waste recycling facility

Check out how electronic and electrical waste is recycled in Edmonton at the GEEP e-waste facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Centre.

Collector Safety

Hello Master Composter/Recyclers,

Here is a new video showing tips on how to properly package household waste in the City of Edmonton to ensure that your waste collector does not get injured.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Connect & Learn --this Saturday! 1-3 p.m.

The last "Connect and Learn" event is happening this Saturday, October 2nd at the Reuse Centre on the second floor from 1 - 3 p.m. Please come out and learn something about OFR (the fruit rescue effort) and CSA (community shared agriculture).

Two master composters are also going to share how they "engaged their community" as waste reduction educators. Combine this with delicious snacks and drinks and a chance to visit with all present...and it should be a fun time!!!

Big Bin Events record 50,000th visits

On Sepember 12, 2010 Councillor Bryan Anderson was at the Millwoods Town Centre Big Bin Event to welcome and celebrate the 50,000th customer to the hugely popular community events.

"Edmontonians take great pride in our city and we don't want to see our river valley and roadways being used as places to dispose of unwanted things," he said. "Big Bin events make it easy for Edmontonians to get rid of large bulky items and are an important part of keeping our city clean."

Since the events began in 2006, they have collected over 8000 tonnes of waste, the equivalent of 600 Edmonton Transit Service buses.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dive! into Sunday Brunch

Colin, my summer student, thought that since people are throwing away all this food, for those of us who are quite ambitious composters it would not be a bad idea to look to the dumpster for some extra compostable materials.

"I know for sure that it would be a good resource for browns and greens." he wrote, "Composters want to help the environment, and this is an easy way to do so, especially since there is personal gain."

Many MC/Rs dumpster dive for a number of reasons, and this month a team of Multifamily Educators will be poking around a bunch of unexplored territory to identify and correct inappropriate additions to residential Recycle bins. They won't be making a movie about it. Or will they...

I hope they find some good stuff - my birthday is just around the corner!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Campus Composting

We often get calls from campus groups wanting to start a composting program. Often, the group has little experience in composting, or knowledge of what to expect from the system. First hand knowledge of large-scale composting methods is invaluable - like everything we have been learning at the City Hall worm bin.

Today, a news item came through my inbox about a new initiative at NC State that looks pretty high tech. What is happening on YOUR campus???

Once your system is in place you have to encourage people to use it. Here is a great example by students at the University of Washington:

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Learn about Membranes, Flotation, or Fermentation...

The Centre of Excellence has posted information on their website about upcoming courses and the next big Waste - the Social Context Conference!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Compost works in three ways - first, the carbon is a natural soil builder; second, the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, etc. make it an organic, slow-release fertilzer; and third, bacteria, actinomycetes, fungi, protozoa, etc. work in the soil to feed your plants.

What works so strongly in compost's favour can occasionally backfire...

Sometimes, rarely, in fact, but sometimes, the life in the compost can get into our body. For the small number of bacteria that will hurt us, it can be a case of being in the right place at the right time. Recently, a lucky Legionella found its way into a gardener's finger and made the Scottish news, causing cautionary notes to be added to labels on bags of UK compost.

Read about it here, and here.

Remember to wear gloves when working the soil.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bad Luck O' the Irish

We got this alert today from the Edmonton Horticultural Society:

If your Tomato or Potato plants show signs of dying, or have turned yellow and brown prematurely this year – READ THIS:

There is ‘late blight disease’ affecting the tomatoes and potatoes at the St. Albert Botanic Park. It is very important to reduce the effects of this disease by harvesting crops and cleaning up the affected plant material immediately. It is important that we work together to eliminate all potential plant materials that can be affected by this disease.

NOTE: This problem will persist in the soil if you bury affected plants, and may also persist in your backyard compost pile. We have been lucky here in Alberta that this hasn’t been a problem in the past – but it could become one if proper precautions are not taken.

Please tell all fellow gardeners.

This is the disease responsible for the Irish Potato Famine. It is a serious and devastating disease that can cause a 100% loss and it is very difficult to control; consequently, it is a community concern.

The disease flourishes in cool and moist conditions and spreads rapidly. It appears as water-soaked spots that manifest to brown/black lesions on leaves and stems, and will often develop a whitish mold on the underside of the lesions. The late blight kills the plant rapidly, and water can carry the disease into the soil and tubers. If the tubers are infected they will show dark patches and the potato will rot. This can happen quickly or it can happen slowly in storage.

Diligent things can be done to manage the disease:

Sanitation is paramount. Bag affected material immediately and put out for waste collection.

Check the tubers and if any show signs of infection destroy them. Potatoes put into storage should be kept separate from other potatoes, kept dry and well ventilated, and checked regularly as the infection can show at a later date.

Do not harvest the tubers when the soil is wet.

Do not use any of these potatoes for seed potatoes - even if you think they look okay.

If signs of disease do surface, kill all vulnerable plants in a 3 metre radius.

more news here...


Use only registered healthy seed potatoes, preferably ones grown in low blight areas like northern Alberta.

Plant blight resistant varieties of potatoes, although no variety is absolutely immune to the disease.

Do not plant any seed potato that shows a blemish, and cut the seed potato to ensure the inside is healthy. If the potato has a problem, then destroy it and disinfect the knife before cutting another potato.

Plant healthy tomato plants only.

Do not over-water your plants.

Do not water the foliage, water under the foliage on the ground.

Keep air circulation open between the underside of the foliage and the ground.

Hill potato plants at a sharp angle to facilitate runoff.

Do not over fertilize.

Avoid planting potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants next to each other as they are all hosts of the disease spores.

Practice crop rotation.

Regularly watch for early signs of infection, and particularly after a time of high humidity or cool and rainy weather.

Fungicides are used by commercial growers, although that is not always effective and it is not a cure. Some strains have also become resistant. This would not be an option for an organic grower.