Nick Herzing

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since Jan 29, 2014
Battle Creek, MI
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Recent posts by Nick Herzing

I am thinking that I will try my hand at a small garden this year. I've done very minor work with gardens (a little weeding, digging, etc.) but really don't know much about gardening (conventional or otherwise). I have some land I can use, but I won't be planting a lot. This is mainly for educational purposes. My long term goal is to grow all my own food, but I am very far off from that, so I really just want to get my hands in the dirt and try somethings out. Right now I am interested in trying huglekultur, but other than reading on here I don't know much. It seems like a simple first step, but correct me if there is a better method to start with. Here are a few questions that have come to my mind, though I'm sure there will be many more:

- I see talk on here about the give and take of different plants and how planting mixed plants (as opposed to the traditional "rows") works really well. How do you know which plants will help/hurt each other, is there a book or database or something that tells attributes like root depth and nutrient intake/output? I have a few ideas of plants I would like to try, but I'm willing to just select the ones that will grow best with each other.

- Weeds. Everyone I know who does gardening or farming pulls weeds and/or uses weed killer, but they all use "conventional" methods. From my understanding there are a few ways to minimize or even eliminate the problem of weeds. What methods for this work with huglekultur? I am not opposed to pulling weeds but if there is a good method to take care of this for me I sure would be interested.

- Water. I know huglekultur is great because the wood acts as a sponge so it requires less water. Does this mean that I will never have to water or just water less (this probably depends on my area, and in Michigan we usually get pretty decent rainfall, if that helps any)?

- This is a silly question, but where do I get seeds? I know there are a bunch of different stores I can go to in my area, but I just want to make sure there aren't any problems with regular seeds I would get from a standard gardening store. I'm assuming I would only have to order them online or by-mail if I was looking for really particular types, but I am not too picky with what I grow right now. Eventually I would like to save seeds to use from year to year so I don't have to keep buying, but obviously I need to start somewhere.

- When should I be planting/harvesting? I am assuming I need to be getting started within the next few weeks.

So those are just a few of my questions. I am not necessarily looking for specific answers to those (although it couldn't hurt) but more just to give you guys a general idea of my experience level (or perhaps inexperience level). So now the real question of this post: what should I do to prepare? I'm sure there are books or websites or something that I should be looking at, but it's really just to much for me to sort through with my oh so limited knowledge. I'm just not sure where to begin, so if some of you more experienced permies could give me any advice for my experiment that would be great.

I know area comes up a lot, but I am not sure what details are most important. Here is some of the information I think might be helpful. I am in zone 6a/5b. Average rainfall in the summer looks to be 3-4 inches per month. Honestly not sure what the soil type is. I'll be planting in a grassy field area, but it's surrounded by a woods and some swamp.

Thanks for any help. I know these "newbie" posts probably get old, but it is super helpful!
It sounds like you are looking for a cooling system for your whole home. Another thing to consider is personal cooling methods. Basically it's easier to keep a person cool than a whole house. On hot summer days (though in Michigan we don't have to worry about it quite as much as some other places...) I often will take a damp washcloth and keep it over the back of my neck where it is right near major veins and arteries. Of course this only works if you don't have to be moving around, but there are other methods as well. A damp bandana seems like it could keep you quite cool. Anyway, just some food for thought. In the long run it's probably better to cool your whole home, but if that is too difficult of an option, or it can't be completed right away, maybe this can help you out a little.
4 years ago
Wood carving is one of my many passions. I haven't dedicated as much time as I would like to (and therefore don't consider me an expert or anything) but I have carved my fair share of spoons, so I'll weigh in here. First, in all the research I have done on this (and believe me, I have read more about wooden utensils than I care to admit) I have only come to one definitive conclusion: there is no right answer to any question! From tool preference to wood preference, there is little consensus. Despite this, there are a few woods that are generally accepted as better than most others. Among these woods are apple, birch, and maple (in not particular order). I have personally carved all of these a few times, along with other woods as well, and I have to say I agree with the majority's view. Those woods are good. If I HAD to pick a best wood, it would be one of these (probably birch for me personally). The properties that make these good woods in my eyes are that they are strong, tight-grained, don't absorb moisture readily, don't impart flavor readily, and nice to carve, and look decent. However, there are some properties that they aren't the best for. For example, they aren't the most beautiful woods out there. They look really nice, but when compared to some of the exotic woods from around the world, they don't stand out. However, toxicity is a concern when dealing with exotic woods, and other factors as well (probably because most carvers don't know a lot about the woods that come from different places, and the carvers of those local areas aren't usually the ones with websites and books). My final point I would like to make is that most woods will work. I have carved a number of woods and while some have been better than others, if they get the job done and aren't toxic then I say they are worth a try.

P.S. Another hotly debated and widely questioned subject is finish. After much thought and a bit of experimenting I now prefer beeswax, walnut oil, or just keeping it raw. If anyone wants any more information about that I could write a whole paragraph about that alone, but unless someone requests that I'll end it here.
4 years ago
Glass is a great thing. It is non-reactive, indefinitely recyclable, and has a nice feel to it. It's brittle nature makes it inconvenient for some applications, but drinking glasses don't see too much harm unless dropped. However, buying a whole set of drinking glasses can be expensive, wasteful, and they don't even look cool. Here is an article about how to turn empty bottles (beer, soda, wine, etc.) into really neat drinking glasses.

I'm sure there are other articles too, but this is the one I found. Also, I am pretty sure you could use any flammable material in place of the Acetate (since you might not have that just lying around) like rubbing alcohol or the like.
4 years ago
I'm no expert, but I'll give you what I think.

First of all, it depends on what your trying to avoid. Just because the world changes doesn't necessarily mean humanity will end. Humans will adapt just as we always have. However, if you mean are we to late to prevent any change than yes, because change has already happened. However, change isn't necessarily good or bad. The earth is really in constant change, and as I said we have/will adapt (I'm not talking natural evolutionary adaption, I mean we will adapt the way we live to fit the world). The serious problem comes in if a change happens faster than we can adapt. I will get to that in a second. Basically change happened no matter what and we have the ability to adapt to some (but not all) change.

Now the more pressing matter is the degree of the change and how responsible we are for it. That is harder because I don't believe it is possible to know for sure. However, I will make the argument that the majority of climate change is not caused by humans but by the natural cycle climate change that has been going on for hundreds of thosands of years. Take a look at this graph:
*See note at bottom about measurements of historical climate change

Notice that we are approaching a peak assuming that the cycle continues. Now there are a couple things to note here. First of all, just because there is a cycle that correlates with current events DOES NOT mean we haven't caused anything. We have obviously put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and thus affected nature. However the degree of this is (to me) very unclear. Generally speaking you have two view points that are represented to the masses by popular media such as television shows and the news (both of which usually reflect the dumbest ideas and not the best or most innovative). First you have the train of thought that climate change is a myth and were all worried about nothing. On the other end of the spectrum we have the perspective that we a literally killing the earth all together and it's all our fault. In the limited research I have done, I have found no argument/evidence to convince me of either of these. I think it probably lands somewhere in the middle. Basically I assert that we are messing things up, but thing were also already changing. Regardless of what is happening, I still hold that humanity will not be destroyed by climate change.

One final note in response to your question, is you have said "reverse" climate change. There is a difference between "minimize further human affects on the climate" and "reverse climate change." Reversing climate change would involve some serious stuff like removing gases from the atmosphere. I suppose it might be possible but I honestly think that would be a bad idea. If we start reversing climate change we doing the same thing were doing now except in reverse. Were messing with nature. The design of the universe is pretty great (so great in fact that some have asserted is as an argument for the existence of God). Nature was doing a pretty great job doing it's thing up until one or two hundred years ago when humans started getting a little to cocky. My point is that by attempting to undo what we have already done, we could very easily do something wrong and make things worse than we started with. I think that smartest move at this point is to cut our loses, switch to a more "green" attitude as is practical, and pray for a better future.

While I am on this rant (this is way longer than I intended) I would like to touch on one other point. There are other problems than climate change. Now don't get me wrong, climate change is a big deal, but I think there are a lot of issues. We can't put so much emphasis on climate change that once we get it figured out we think that there is nothing left to fix. For example, I don't need to tell a permaculture fourm how bad some of our modern agriculture methods are. I mean I was reading not so long ago about the amount of arable land (land that can be used for agriculture) is left on earth. I also read how this was slowly dwindling because once land have been used for a long time it starts to lose it's potency. This kind of worried me because I realized that even if it doens't happen in my lifetime, someday people would literally run out of land to grow stuff on. Then I found out about permaculture, and I was like "hey, not only do we not have to run out of farm land, with there methods we can utilize land that isn't useful for conventional agriculture AND create more useable land. That is pretty neat." But then it occurred to me that just becuase we have the potential to do permaculture stuff doesn't means that most people will do it. And that applies to a lot of stuff these days. Agriculture, education, religion/ethics/morality, transportation, building stuff... and the list goes on. It seems like no matter where you look the common way of thinking is the wrong way of thinking. So am I worried about climate change? Sure. Am I worried about other stuff too? YES.

However, it doesn't have to be bad. There is still hope. They are hard to find, but there are nuggets of treasure if you search hard enough.

Let me end by saying, again, I am far from an expert. I make no claim of infallibility, and have simply presented information I have gathered with the conclusions I have formed from said information. I hope it can be helpful.

*NOTE: All of the information that we have about earths climate change history (I am taking hundreds of thousands of years here) we get from ice. I don't know all the details, but basically by measuring certain things in the ice and matching the depth with a time period they can estimate CO2, temps, etc. My point here is that we don't even know if this stuff is accurate for sure. For example I heard about a new discovery that there was ice that was forming on the BOTTOM of already existing ice. That is very unusual, but I suppose if the ice was cold enough it is possible. Anyway, if this is happening where ice samples come from then it could be a huge problem that would corrupt everything we know about climate change. However, this seems unlikely. My point is just that we don't know anything for sure.

5 years ago
Thanks for the help, that actually makes a lot of sense. As I start to learn more about permaculture I am starting to realize exactly what you have just said- every place is different.
5 years ago
Here some of my additions:
apple cider vinegar as deodorant (apply it out right or dilute with equal parts water).
apple cider vinegar as hair wash
vinegar as rust cleaner
Baking soda as hair wash
Baking soda supposedly whitens teeth
wood ash and water as dish soap (don't let it sit to long or it can turn into lye)
5 years ago
I am fairly new to all of this permaculture stuff, but one thing that I have noticed is that huglekulturs are generally made above ground. I have seen it recommended to build them underground (i.e. dig a hole, fill with wood and dirt, then plant on top) if people have problems with the way the mounds look. However, generally speaking it seems that the above ground approach it considered better. I am wondering why this is. In theory, from the little that I know about huglekultur, it seems like there would be very little difference, but I have a feeling I am missing something. Any help?
5 years ago
Thanks guys! Yes I feel very fortunate that I'm figuring things out right now. Though I have a long ways to go and I'm sure I'll change my mind on a lot of things as I age, I'm glad that I am working toward something that I have really thought about. I used to worry that one day I would wake up with a big house, nice cars, all that jazz, and realize that I wasn't happy. It just doesn't really appeal to me, but that is kind of what is paraded as being "successful" in our modern culture. Luckily I have a very loving and understanding family. Of course it's never to late to make changes in your life, but I feel reassured knowing that even if I do wake up with regrets as an old man, I'll still be happy knowing that I tried. Thanks for the welcome, I'm glad to be on the fourms.
5 years ago