Luke Burkholder

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since May 23, 2013
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Recent posts by Luke Burkholder

wayne stephen wrote:The one who coined the term defined it as :

"Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenence of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity , stability , and resilience of natural ecosystems." - Bill Mollison

Wowzers.  I've been trolling this website for years and I was never sure exactly what permaculture was until I read this sentence.  Thank you Wayne and props to Bill Mollison; when you're right you're right.
1 year ago
Sounds delicious.

If you are adding those things it sounds like you must be doing an all grain mash. If you mash with *only* corn or rice, then there are not enough enzymes to break up the starches. If you are using a bunch of barley and adding some corn, then the enzymes in the barley will break up whatever starch they encounter, regardless of the source. You can control what reactions happen by changing the ratio of different grains and the temperatures and times they are exposed to in the mash.

When you make beer by adding a commercial yeast pack, you are adding like a trillion cells that are all from a single strain, propagated in a lab in sterile conditions. If that strain can't produce enzymes that break up complex polysaccharides, then those molecules will remain in the finished beer and affect the properties of the beer. That may be intended: undigested sugars and starches add sweetness and "maltiness" and mouthfeel, and your body will digest whatever the yeast don't. A classic brewing anecdote is that in the days before pasteurization and reliable city water, orphanages would brew weak beer, >2% alcohol but with lots of sugar and starch left over (i.e. lots of calories) and serve it to children.

The Kefir scoby is more "wild" and wild things tend to be more adaptive, there will be some dominant strains in there doing their Kefir thing when they are in milk, but there will be countless other strains hanging around that will be able to digest all kinds of things, and the mix will change when you put them in wort.
2 years ago
Well, we always say hops are added to beer to inhibit spoilage bacteria, but there are sour beers like Belgian Lambics that are hopped and yet bacteria are integral to the flavor profile.

I have tried to make malt vinegar from beer, and did not have good success, and maybe some of that can be blamed on the hops, but I didn't have much success with wine vinegar either, so I think it's more about my technique or local conditions than anything else.

My guess is that the hops will slow the bacteria down, but not completely kill them, or maybe only kill certain strains. Again, if you want to favor the production of alcohol, then you want conditions that favor yeast, so that should work in your favor.

You could also consider adding some lactose (milk sugar) since the Kefir grains are used to eating lactose in milk. Most brewing stores sell powdered lactose.
2 years ago
I think the outcome of the beverage you make will have a strong dependence on the amount of air that the Kefir colonies get. Typically Kefir is an aerobic fermentation: surface exposed to some oxygen, maybe covered lightly with a cloth. The yeasts will munch on sugar to make some alcohol as they do, and the bacteria will munch on the alcohol to make some acid.

Beers and other alcoholic things are usually fermented in anerobic conditions: with an airlock so CO2 can escape, but no more air can get back in. Yeast can still munch sugar to make alcohol without air, but bacteria have a much harder time munching alcohol to make acid. I don't think the bacteria will die, but you will definitely tip the scales in favor of the yeast (and therefore the production and retention of alcohol) by adding an airlock.
2 years ago
Ha ha! Take that grass! Nobody expects the Spanish Onion Inquisition!
2 years ago
I'm not hating on it, I totally embrace this plant in my permaculture lawn. I've got some dandelions, and they are signaling to me an area of my lawn where the soil is compacted and maybe a little low on nutrients; so I sprinkle some compost there. I have clover, and it is signaling to me an area of my lawn that is nitrogen deficient, so I sprinkle a little nitrogen rich fertilizer there. I have crabgrass, and it signalling an area of generally poor soil; so I sprinkle some compost and fertilizer there. Or whatever. Sometimes I just do nothing and see what happens.

What I don't like are the areas of my lawn that seem to be a monocrop of creeping charlie. It is definitely glechoma hederacea, and it is blooming now, and it makes a good tea. I'm not really worried about it being an invasive just because it's a non-native to Wisconsin, I think it can coexist with grass. I just want to encourage the grass a little more.
3 years ago
This is an old thread, but it is appropriately named, so I will keep it going.

I've got lots of creeping charlie. I'm trying to have a lawn, but I'm trying to have as permaculture of a lawn as possible. I mow high with a reel mower, I never water my lawn (but I do strategically empty my rain barrels.) I've done soil tests, and they show high pH and low boron, so I've added sulfur, and sprayed a weak borax solution to try to make my soil as favorable to grass as possible. Now that I read more of Elaine Ingham's stuff, I'm wondering if adding those things is adding too many salts and disrupting the soil-food-web. Always more to learn.

My Question! If I take the most permaculture perspective that the problem is the solution, what problem is the creeping charlie working to correct? Is it a dynamic accumulator? (of what?) Is it really tolerant of something I have too much of? Is it hardy against a deficiency I might have? How can I help this plant do the work it is trying to do?


3 years ago
I think spent grains are actually nitrogen rich. When we brew, we're trying to extract the starches and sugars, and a lot of the nitrogen in proteins is left behind. In my experience putting spent grains in a compost pile, they are like a "green" material, and need lots of "browns" to balance them out. Here's a report from a quick search:

If you top-dress your lawn with spent grain, you are actually adding nitrogen overall.
3 years ago
We raised sheep on a small farm when I was young. The main product was meat, and the wool was considered a byproduct. They were pastured in the summer, then fed indoors on feed and hay from an overhead slatted manger, so the wool was dirty from that. Minimizing hay feeding and indoor time would keep the wool cleaner, especially if the animals are paddock-shifted so they are constantly being moved into fresh areas with plenty of growth and no mud.

Wool is hair, and the healthier the animal, the healthier their hair. If permaculture keeps the sheep in peak health, then the wool will be more better. Extreme conditions is malnutrition and stress can cause a "wool break" where the whole fleece sloughs off in one matted sheet. That's baaaaaad.
3 years ago
Paul Wheaton, sometimes you are annoying any sometimes you say things I don't agree with. Sometimes you say things I do agree with in an annoying way. But SOMETIMES, you say things that are so on point that my mind is turned inside out with an amazing essay that goes places I never would have thought to think. They are (like this one) mostly of the form: "X is a good thing, but it's more complicated than that. Have you thought of ..."

Thanks for being you. I'm glad I live in a world with you in it. I look forward to further annoyance.
3 years ago