Zach Sears

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since Jun 27, 2014
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Recent posts by Zach Sears

I get coffee beans from a local organic coffee shop, and I use them in my hugel bed as well as in my greenhouse and compost. I'm not the only one who gets them but it's nice when I can go there and pick up around 7 buckets full. It seems to work really well just straight in any garden bed. It's really good worm food and it also seems to break down quickly. Use it anywhere you think you could use a little extra organic matter.
3 years ago
Okay, so I've been looking for idea for planting a variety of wine grapes on my property this year. I've been slowly beginning the transformation of my 1.38 acre property to a permaculture designed landscape which so far has included building a 4 foot high by 50 foot long Hugelkultur bed and beginning to plant some fruit trees in guilds. One thing I'm really keen on having is enough grapes to feed my appetite for wine as well as my other half's and our friends and even neighbors. The property already has a large concord like seeded grape vine in the backyard that with a little love will produce even better. There is also a number of vines stretching out to about 60 feet along the road on the edge of our property. These grapes while good for juice and making preserves are really poor wine grapes, and the seeded part makes for only decent eating. So I'm looking to either remove the grapes along the road and replant as well as planting some along the road further to the north or just planting another row or two of grapes.

Typically planting in rows isn't a strong element in permaculture design, but seems to be the way planting grapes for wine is done in every commercial and hobbyist vineyard I've been able to find. I'm not looking to have a huge amount of vineyard on the property, and I'm operating with the understanding that 100 ft. of mature grape vines can produce up to 150 bottles of wine each year, which would be more than enough. So the ideas in this thread seem to be formed around the idea that the monoculture of grapes can be lessened rather being a prime example of permaculture design.

My ideas so far are likely to be using my chicken tractors/moveable coops between the couple of rows of grapes that I will be planting. The ground cover between the rows and even under the grapes will be more along the lines of companion planting which would include clover, legumes, peas, and possibly some grass. These will help feed the chickens as well as affix nitrogen to the soil, but outside of the area the chicken tractors will be running on and under the grapes I want to have basil, clover, oregano, hyssop, and onions. Trying to add as much diversity as possible, but realizing it's less permaculture and wondering if anyone is doing anything much different from my ideas or the rest of the ideas in this thread?

Perhaps I can consider using the grapes along more of the edge of my property or perhaps I'm going too grape crazy. In any case if there's anyone doing more higher level permaculture design for growing their wine grapes I'd love to hear about what you're doing and ideas you have.
3 years ago
I've only been keeping chickens since the spring. We received 8 chicks from a friend who hatched them herself. 6 of them turned out to be roosters leaving us with a good BBQ for us and our friends as well as a New Jersey Red and Buff Orphindgton. As soon as I butchered the roosters my girl/partner went out and bought 6 new chicks and after raising them to near maturity we integrated the flock slowly to avoid too much hen on hen violence. We keep them in a moveable coop or tractor if you will that allows them fresh grass as long as we move it often and we let them out from time to time. The new Australorp turned out to be a rooster that literally disappeared one day when we were both outside hanging out with our chickens. So we have 7 hens and 3 of which are mature enough to lay.

We get 2-3 eggs per day and I attribute it to buying two inexpensive solar LED light strings that i fitted on the tractor up in the roost area. They switch on at dusk and stay lit just a few hours or a max of 6 on really sunny days, but usually if the sun is down by 5ish they're off by 9. I'm guessing our two Rhode Island Red's will start laying soon followed by the Barred Rock and the Americauna. The sex link is the other layer and since it started laying about a month ago it has missed maybe one day. I know Buff's and the New Jersey aren't prized layers (although they are good) but we're not experiencing any egg shortages due to winter.

We'll see what happens when they start to brood but by then I'll have probably built another tractor and have another group of about 8 birds starting to lay. I plan on doing a rotation every couple years in each tractor buying new chicks to experiment with different breeds. Sometime in the future maybe I'll start letting them raise their own chicks.
4 years ago
I challenge anyone who is offended by cursing in the podcasts or other media to simply just change the words in the sentence. Would you be less offended if instead of fuck, the word copulate or coitus was used? It's funny to me that because of an obvious taboo generated by our culture we have off limits words. Since permaculture is about changing our culture, we should consider that this is not only changing our relation to the world from monoculture environments to diverse permaculture environments, but changing our language to include more diversity as well and not ruling out the use of language. I feel like those who are saying you should only speak within the respectable barriers we've created for good and bad language are very similar to the people that have told me you can only garden in the traditional manner. The garden must be neatly planted in rows with like crops by like crops and tilled regularly. You must not utter certain four letter words or our neatly sculpted victorian morals will erode and the children will suffer pollution of their brains. We have to be willing to accept that our culture should be defined by others alone, but by our own personal choice. Accepting that these words exist and that no matter how many times you say them they will not hurt you is the first step to ridding the power these words have over you.
4 years ago
The use of what we call "profane" language being offensive has always been a mystery to me. We assign words meaning, which means we take some arbitrary sound and seed it with a definitive purpose so the word in and of itself isn't in any way bad. We decided to make some words bad or off limits which is a little irrational. When I was young and swearing was a no no in my house hold I routinely used replacement words like "oh shoot", "what the heck", or "freak". None of those words were deemed bad by my parents and other adult authority figures with the exception of perhaps one crazy sunday school teacher. However, the intent behind those words and their "more adult" counterparts was the same. When I needed to exclaim disgust and spilling a gallon of milk the only difference between oh shoot and oh shit was that we as a society deem that word to be bad or in poor taste. The fact that I could say oh poop and not get my mouth washed out while oh shit just wasted good hand soap was completely idiotic, as poop and shit are only really differentiated by taboo. Too much use of any word whether it be a swear word or not is the sign of smaller vocabulary, but as Carlin noted some of these words have multiple meanings which makes them more useful than some words which are much more limited in use.

Now that's not to say that I don't understand trying to keep kids vocabularies "clean" because words can be just as dangerous as a chainsaw or other power tools I wouldn't have a young kid using. The words of dictators, religious fundamentalists, and other general "bad guys" have stoked and created terrible conflicts within the world. However, with kids using swear words it's the same as with a power tool, I don't let them use it because they're not yet capable of understanding the full repercussions of the use of such things. The words we choose to use should be chosen with care and thought, with audience and the true intent of our communication in mind. When kids learn to use these bad words correctly (usually by practicing their use away from encroaching parental and authority figures) all the sudden it becomes clear that with a little guidance they too eventually learn to use the full beauty of the english language in a manner suiting their contemporaneous and present situation. They learn that in a classroom, fuck is not a very good thing to say, but when their with their mates outside of the classroom it's perfectly acceptable to use that word to convey just how bad that dead leg they just received felt.

I always just tell kids that there are grown up words that should be used judicially and if they don't understand what the words mean or how to use them they should refrain from using them just like I tell kids the chainsaw is a tool that you should not us until you have the strength and have been shown how to properly use them. Just like I don't teach small children words like orgasm, and clitoris as they're not really useful to children but after they grow old enough they should know what both of these are. If we never told kids that these words were bad or unclean in the first place they'd never know and instead of creating some arbitrary value system for words being good or bad we could actually just help children with their vocabulary when they use these "bad words". We correct kids when they use the wrong verb conjugations like telling them it's "I saw a bear not I seen a bear", so I don't know why we assign such vitriol towards some words. It's one of those societal taboos that is only backed up by our own collective hallucinations like most of our value systems and we should question this taboo. After all the words genocide, rape, and molestation all mean some pretty rotten things, but the words themselves aren't bad and are in fact very useful to describe this world around us which can be pretty rotten at times.
4 years ago