Urban Gardening in Denver

About three or four years ago I bought a juniper bonsai, at the Mile High Flea Market, and it was all over. Since then I have raised a few bonsai, and killed a few more. I now have five different, healthy bonsai. They all have their quirks and temperaments and it’s super cool to watch them change and adapt; to the edge of life and back in some cases. Because of the close, careful attention you pay to keeping plants like these, I developed a closeness to and understanding of growing.

Keeping these little guys alive has made me incredibly interested in growing plants and using accessories like a dust collector could be helpful to keep your little garden free. It seemed such a natural thing to do, however I knew so few people who did it. When I moved into my place on Capitol Hill, I planted a grand garden in the two and a half foot strip of  dirt in front of the building. By the end of the summer I had -no lie- 12′ tall sunflowers with 8″-10″ faces, brown-eyed Susan climbing the walls, tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, corn and even a pumpkin patch.

My freshly planted city garden. 11th and Clarkson Street Denver, Colorado; Spring 2006

In 2009 I did a 5 month SEO internship with nationally recognized SEO strategist, and all-around great dude to know, Everett Sizemore. Besides being a search engine optimization wizard he was also the original organizer of the Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group, had a hooked-up backyard garden and hopped town to go back to simple living at his own farm in Virginia.

That did a bunch for my plant bug, and I knew that growing greens was going to be part of what I did for now on…all I needed was a new apartment…and all I needed for that was a new job.

Then I got all that… I have a new job (newer then my last crappy job) and also a new apartment. The job I have happened to be a really great resource for not only home and urban gardening but also sustainable living and solar products & information. So here I am, stoked to have a sweet job working in an industry that A) has a lot of cool shit that I’m into, but also B) has spent the last 30 years providing eco-friendly options for consumers who choose to reduce their impact on the world they live on…or because it’s trendy…or because they’re our stockholders. The truth is, I really don’t care why as long as it’s clean and fair.

I digress…

When I mentioned to my boss that I was going to start a vermicompost bin in my new place, she took me to the product shelf and showed me a Worm Factory Home Composter and told me I could use it. Vermicomposting is composting with worms. It is touted as clean and odorless, so you can do it indoors. I’ve never been afraid of a little dirt and worms, however I can’t say I’m the best at keeping things clean. I suppose it will be a learning experience in a handful of subjects.

Worm Factory on my porch

Currently my compost bin is set up on my balcony. The instructions said that the worms do best in temperatures between 40-80 degrees. The week after I set it up Denver had a string of 98-100 degree weather. I put the bin in the wrong corner of the porch, in the direct sun. A week later I think I killed all of my worms. I have since found a more suitable, shady corner of the porch for the worm bin. The first batch of kitchen waste I put in there has been mellowing in the sun for a week, but there is still no odor. It started to become dry, so I added a glass of water to add moisture. Next week I’ll go back to the garden store and get more worms.

Since I have no compost, and likely no live worms left, I don’t have a lot to say about composting. Getting ready to compost is pretty awesome though…

I love to cook tasty food. If you know me, you know this. As I was learning how to cook I was cognizant about how much plant waste you throw away. All the carrot peels, onion heels, herb stems and everything else I don’t use now go into the compost bag. The secret to not having a stinky compost bin is to not use anything fatty or any animal by products. I don’t eat a lot of meat so it’s pretty easy to keep the waste separate. Currently when I fix meals I keep a paper bag lined with produce bags. I’d love to get a sweet bamboo kitchen compost collector, but this will do for now.

My makeshift kitchen waste collector

What are my plans for this big bucket of worm shit? Plants! Bonsai, container gardens, herbs…it’ll be epic.

My Mom Reads Driven By Boredom

www.DrivenByBoredom.comI’ve been wanting to talk about some of the people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made while I was moving around. It was difficult to pick the person to mention first. I wanted it to be personal, but not weird or sappy, and I wanted it to be someone kind of awesome. I suppose it would be a no-brainier now that I thought of it, but after considerable thought I decided to go with my friend Nate Smith.

Nate (Igor) was the first blogger I ever met and I always kept up with what he was doing. I was a few years out of any kind of party scene and he was in New York photographing these amazing parties. We kept in touch and I have been helping him out with his web projects on and off for years. I didn’t realize his reach until last summer, when I was in visiting my mom in Falling Waters West Virginia. She was asking me about the projects I had done and I brought up Igor. I was shocked, and a little mortified when she told me that she knew about his blog and reads it all the time. Well fuck what you heard because my mom reads Driven By Boredom.

Photo by Igor VA 200?

Richmond Virginia was an awesome town to live in. It was truly the definition of punk rock, as in it wasn’t uncommon to be walking down the street in The Fan and pass a couch that somebody set on fire, in the middle of the night. If you’re into Missy Elliott, Avail, Municipal Waste, Steve Earle, Pig Destroyer, Neko Case, Mae, GWAR, Lamb of God, Day By Day, Strike Anywhere, The Neptunes or (dare I)…Bruce Hornsby, then you might already know that Virginia is a party all the time. Our upstairs neighbor hung out with Igor and we all kicked it together from time to time. Igor had a web site, and I thought that was pretty cool.

Igor never drinks, except for once a year on his birthday. I’d love to tell you about that time, but I was out well before he was. One of my favorite Igor party tricks was hot dog swallowing. At one of my house parties he got into a hot dog swallowing contest with my friend Kimmy. Kimmy was a 7 foot tall, bleach blond bombshell. Daisy dukes, horn-rim glasses and covered head-to-toe with tattoos of cars and weapons. This girl was in it to win it, like she had something to prove. Igor smoked her by gutting 6 whole hot dogs in a row. It was truly Epic.

The Gaskets by Igor
The Gaskets

Not long before I left Igor started managing a goofy little pop duo called The Gaskets. He started shopping them around at Richmond open mic shows, and before too long they were getting booked… to open for motherfucking “Weird Al” Yankovic. They released a couple of albums, and played a bunch of shows. One of the two, Teddy Blanks, went off on his own and recorded a really cool  cover of Headache by Frank Black. You can still hear it on Teddy’s MySpace page.

Erotica LA 2009
Erotica LA 2009

You’re either made to live in Richmond, or you were bound to visit. Not to long after I left town, Igor set off for New York City to make The Gaskets stars, I think. What happened was a bit different. We didn’t stay in touch too much, however he’s a big Miami Dolphins fan so there was always a lot of shit talk at football season. The Gaskets broke up and Igor started focusing a lot of attention going to these sweet parties and taking tons of pictures. After years of plugging along he ended up developing a pretty solid following. His work became more and more popular, and he started getting contracts at music conferences, film festivals and Andrew W. K. shows.

The Off Broadway Awards After Party
Off Broadway Awards After Party

Photo by Igor

This is the part where I just spent over an hour looking through Igor’s pictures, trying to decide which ones to talk about. I’ve went way over my time budget for this blog, so I’m just going to list my top 5 favorite Driven By Boredom photos in no particular order.

So now you know Igor. If nothing else, subscribe to Driven By Boredom in your reader for a while. If you have a weak constitution, a closed mind, freaked out by extreme sleaze or anything like that…don’t sign up for his Christmas card list. Who knows though, my mom’s into it. Wussy.

I Got a Job

After 17 months of funemployment, I have a real job…sort of. I’ve had some stints of underemployment in the past, but after nearly a year and a half of experimenting with freelance I am pretty happy to get back into an office. It has been really hard to continue to be motivated and creative without a people to work with. That and I was always broke. Quite honestly, the poverty was way easier to handle than wallowing in my crummy apartment every day. I eventually came to the conclusion that the two might somehow be related. It’s a contract however, so I get all of the benefits of working, but with none of the benefits. At the same time, with just two or three days worth of change left in the bowl, I decided that I could stand doing my own taxes in exchange for a desk and a chair.Continue reading →

My Relationship With Music

No longer is this the beginning of a new year, so much for the “Welcome 2010” blog post. I had a bunch of cool topics rolling around to write about, but now that I’m here it’s difficult to nail anything down. I thought about doing a thing on one of my friends each month. It would be a good chance to edify publicly the people I care about, and I’d never run out of topics…unless I become a salty old shut-in, naturally.

Another idea I had was to talk about music. The problem with that is I have no idea how to approach it. Music is such a big part of how I’ve chosen to live my life, that trying to think of the whole thing in terms of one topic is staggering. I could break it up into a series of multiple blog posts, but let’s be honest.. I’m not that motivated to write in this blog. However, Iron and Wine’s cover of the Flaming Lips Waitin’ For A Superman just came on the iTunes, so maybe that’s a good place to start.Continue reading →

The Five Coolest Blogs of 2009

kilingtimeI took a two and a half month blogging sabbatical, but you can be sure I haven’t been lazy. It’s been cool to watch my calendar fill up little by little, with all kinds of work and play.  I’ve had a lot of time to analyze my career perspective as well, and some things have been upgraded. The time I have spent at Gaiam has been the most constructive and educational use of my time in many years. The things that I’ve learned about SEO has been invaluable. I’m also exposed to marketing, development and, not to be discounted, what it’s like in a cubicle. I don’t have an opinion yet about working in a corporate office, but I don’t think I’ve sold out quite yet. That gig will be over at the end of the month, so It’ll be back to the fight for real pretty soon.

This year I have immersed myself in social media. My little local Twitter community has been awesome, and I have made some close, new real life friendships. All of my business prospects have come out of the primordial social media soup as well. I have also been invited to work with a small, local nonprofit group through the friends I have made through social media.

My psychic junk-food has become cool and creative blogs this year. I’ve found a bunch of really interesting ones, and some that are not as great. I’ve found a lot of really cool art, music and tons of unique information. I’ve created a list of my very favorite blogs.

Without further ado…
Continue reading →