ffj's early retirement

Where are you and where are you going?
ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Wed Jun 26, 2019 9:20 pm

@Jacob

I found that mushroom on a hike at Shaker Village in central Kentucky. Here are some more images and also the cluster on the other side of the tree. I can't remember what kind of tree it was however.

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ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:19 pm

Success in stage one!

This is what the rye berries looked like eleven days ago:

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And today. The mycelium have completely taken over the substrate and I am ready to inoculate mushroom grow mix with this grain spawn.

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So the next step is to break these bags apart and place about 3/4 of a cup of this spawn into newly sterilized grow bags, which is where the mushrooms will actually grow. I think I can get about ten bags inoculated with what spawn I've created ( I started out with 4 cups of dry grain ) and if I average about two pounds of mushrooms per grow bag then I should be able to harvest about twenty pounds optimistically. We'll see how that goes and I'll be sure to document everything. The substrate will change and the bags will get bigger. I'm excited at this early victory.






In other news I'm building another fence. Now this is a fence I wasn't planning on building or necessarily wanted to build but my neighbor has forced my hand. This Spring the neighbor decided to go into the excavation business and he purchased a bunch of equipment including skid steers and dump trucks. In order to park all of these pieces of equipment he leveled a spot in a field between his house and mine so now I get to look at construction equipment and a filthy parking lot way too close to my house. He just ruined a nice looking field that I can't avoid seeing. I've already spoken to him about the eyesore and level of noise but the reality is that he is under no obligation to move this stuff as we live out in the country and there is no rule prohibiting him from doing what he has done. It's just an asshole move on his part and I'm hoping his latest endeavor fails. In the meantime though I am taking measures into my own hands and blocking the view.

Now I have wanted more privacy for years now before this latest incident, so I planted trees along that fence line 2 and 3 years ago. At certain angles it does block everything out but not at 90 degrees.

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At each post I planted a climbing vine to soften up the fence a little. These are hyacinth bean plants.

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And here are the infill panels. I know, they are huge. :roll: But when the trees fill out more and the vines do their thing, it will all be proportional. Promise. ;)

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Once I complete the fence I will take a final picture, but the weather has been atrocious lately so I'm moving a bit slow. It's a bit unkempt because i haven't finished but the final product will look much better. I've got a hundred feet of this to finish and even though I only have 16 feet of blockage up, it has made a big difference already.

ffj
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Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:55 pm

O.K., so I've moved on to the next stage of my mushroom adventure. The first stage was inoculating rye berries from a purchased strain of liquid culture, which went very well, and now my task is to take those colonized rye berries and split them up into fruiting blocks, which is where the actual mushrooms will grow.

The fruiting blocks are quite simple to make actually and I'm quite surprised on how clean the process can occur. I've always associated mushrooms with dirt and darkness and wetness but with this bag system it is all very orderly. My recipe for the fruiting blocks is quite simple: 5 cups of hardwood pellets, 1 1/4 cups soybean hulls and 1.4 liters of water. This will create a 5 pound block which in theory should produce 1-2 pounds of harvestable mushrooms, which of course remains to be seen. The costs are reasonable too, as I can buy a 40 pound bag of wood pellets for $5, and a 50 pound bag of soybean hull pellets for $6, and the bag comes in around 75 cents.

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Once the pellets are hydrated, they instantly fall apart and create a mush. Some people choose to mix everything in a large tub and then place into the bag but it is much simpler to add the dry ingredients into the bag and then add water. Once the bags are mixed, I then sterilize the substrate in a pressure cooker. Unfortunately, I can only do two at a time which means it takes a while and I have to store the finished bags in a sterile environment until all the bags are ready for inoculation. That is where my handy tote comes into play.

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Note the bag of spawn before I crumbled it up. After doing that I simply placed about a cup of the spawn into each bag and sealed each bag up with the impulse sealer. I tried very hard not to contaminate the sterility but it's very hard to do perfectly without compromises. At least in a still box. A laminar flow hood would really shine in this operation.

And the finished product. I created another bag of rye berries to continue the line and four bags of fruiting blocks. Now it is just a waiting game for the mycelium to colonize their new worlds. I will keep you guys updated on the progress.

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In other news, I have mostly finished my fence, which although large, has greatly improved my life. Not having to look at stuff that pisses you off is wonderful.

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ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Mon Jul 15, 2019 10:52 am

Just a quick update:

Three days and this stuff is going crazy. They are really digging their new homes. I think it is pretty remarkable so here's a picture:


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ffj
Posts: 1981
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Fri Jul 26, 2019 7:12 pm

It's been two weeks and I think I'm ready to grow some mushrooms.

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These bags are colonized and some are beginning to "pin", which is start a fruiting body (grow a mushroom).

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My next step is to get my fruiting chamber ready so they have a place to grow. I'll need an enclosure, proper light, proper air exchange, and the correct humidity. I've already begun these steps and hopefully in the next few days I will be ready for them to take off. I'll keep everyone posted.





Fire training continues to go well. :)

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Don't worry, I haven't killed my recruits, but it's been hotter than hell on the training grounds. These poor guys have had to work in some awful conditions but it's making them tougher, despite what the picture may indicate. Ha.

We have live fire burning tomorrow and in another week they test out of my program. If each is successful in passing, then they get to actually ride a fire truck and be an actual firefighter in real emergencies. We've been training for 3 months now and the ones that remain ( I had a lot quit ) are pretty solid, and I have no doubt they will do quite well in the fire service.

I indicated to my dept. that this would probably be my last class as I've been doing this for five years now and quite frankly I am getting older and the recruits keep getting younger and there is a bit of a disconnect coming from different generations. That and the pay isn't really all that good and some of this stuff gets boring after having done it for 25 plus years. So today as I was talking to the Fire Chief he outright asks me if I was interested in a full-time position as a Training Officer and what kind of money it would take to retain me. That took me by surprise to be honest. So I told him my conditions and that we would discuss it further in the future. So we'll see where this all leads, maybe nothing, but who knows.



From a recent hike. I just thought it turned out well, thought I would share.

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We have an annoying problem with stray cats where I live. The cat I have now is actually a stray we took in that just wouldn't leave our house. And for the past two months or so we have had another one take residence under my porch and sneak around and eat all of my cats food. To the point where my cat has lost a lot of weight and which he needed, but that's beside the point. haha

The other day my daughter said she had a surprise for me and took me around to look under the porch where I was met with a bunch of cute little faces staring back at me. I had no idea this cat had kittens because they made absolutely no sound and when I crawled under the porch I found one of them had died actually, so they had to go.

So I got my old trusty Hav-A-Hart trap out and surprisingly I caught all of them in a day. And all of them wild as hell spitting and hissing at me.

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The last kitten. She had four kittens but one had died.

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I took them to the Humane Society where the momma cat bit the guy trying to get her out of the cage. :roll:

Hopefully somebody takes them all as barn cats because until I caught them, they had had no human contact. I think they are just too wild to become someone's lap cat. Sad situation.

EdithKeeler
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by EdithKeeler » Sat Jul 27, 2019 8:59 am

Love all your pics. Kittens are adorable! You’d be surprised how fast they’d tame up. My mom’s got three cats who were crazy wild feral.... now totally domesticated. I think most of them figure it out once they have a full belly on a regular basis and a warm place out of the weather.

But love your pics. You have a nice life on your place, the kind of thing I often dream about.

ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:11 pm

Thanks Edith, and I do have it pretty good.

I thought about your comments as I was coming home today and looked out the front of my house:

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It was kind of tranquil even though many times it is not, and worth a picture.



The kittens were cute but I have always stuck to the one pet rule. One dog and one cat as anything more than that just starts to get chaotic and expensive. Unfortunately even with removing the momma and her kittens, I still have to deal with feral cats. I caught this guy last night and he was truly a wild animal. As I had just dropped off 4 cats to the shelter a day ago I just let him go and hope he stays away. I couldn't help feel bad for him though as he clearly is living a very rough life.

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Jason
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by Jason » Sun Jul 28, 2019 7:55 am

Those are cute kittens. But soon they will be cats and I refuse to have pets that think they are superior to me. It's just not the proper dynamic when I contemplate pet ownership.

I can imagine how hot those guys are in that gear. Geez.

ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:37 pm

@Jason

Yeah, we had a live burn a couple of days ago which was just miserable. It was 90 degrees F outside and 800 degrees inside, haha. I wanted to get some pictures but I just didn't have it in me in addition to helping teach the class. Imagine putting on a down jumpsuit that weighs 30 pounds and doing a bunch of very physical work in high heat and humidity. The fire suit that protects you from external thermal burns also traps your body heat and blocks any form of cooling off such as evaporation. Oh, and you also get to wear a 25 pound air pack too. The older I get the more I realize I am not 22 years old anymore when this stuff didn't bother me.





Making progress on the mushroom endeavor. Yesterday I made agar plates, which are simply petri dishes filled with nutritional food for mushrooms. It allows one to store mushroom strains for future propagation. It consists of agar agar, malt extract, and nutritional yeast. The recipe I followed consisted of 20 grams of malt extract, 20 grams of agar powder, and 2 grams of nutritional yeast per 1,000ml of water.

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The bottle is used to sterilize the mixture with 750 ml being just right for 25 dishes. You need to drill a hole in the cap and stuff it with cotton to prevent over pressuring during sterilization in the pressure cooker.

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After 45 minutes in the pressure cooker.

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Then you just pour the mixture into the dishes and seal them up with tape to prevent contamination after cooling off and solidifying.

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Once the phoenix oyster strain colonizes the dish, I'll store it into the refrigerator to make it go into dormancy. And when I need it in the future, I will just take a slice of it and place it in a grain spawn bag.

ffj
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Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Tue Jul 30, 2019 10:58 am

And on to the last phase.

In order to fruit, I need to control several variables: temperature, air quality, humidity, and light. All of these features have been relatively easy to calculate with the exception of light, in regards to quantity and intensity mainly. The experts are all over the map as to handle this question, and I think I am going to have to simply experiment to come to an answer.

The best way to control these conditions is to simply create your own micro-climate which I am attempting with a simple mini greenhouse. I bought a cheap Chinese made one off of Amazon for $22. Next, I had to create humidity, which accomplished with a mist-maker built by House-of-Hydro. These things are pretty neat and create water mist through vibration as best I can tell.

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In order to get the mist into the grow chamber I needed to use a fan which I also purchased at House -of-Hydro, although possibly a computer fan would work also.

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Since I collect parts and pieces of stuff if I think I can use them in the future, I was able to build this contraption without spending any more money as I had all this stuff lying around. Here's a test run after putting it together.

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Happy with that, I connected to the greenhouse.

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For you minimalists out there having a seizure at the state of my basement, keep in mind this is where I keep my sanity and a lot of work gets done. I promise the rest of my house is neat and orderly. Haha

Where I want to be in regards to humidity.

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Now as far as temperature, this one is pretty easy as my basement maintains a constant temperature well within a grow range for most mushrooms. So easy and done.

My last challenge is lighting. Although mushrooms can grow in the dark, they do require light for orientation and a host of other reasons. After hours of research with a ton of differing opinions, I decided to throw a LED light in there for 8 hours a day. Is it right? I don't know to be honest. But I've put my first 4 bags in there and we will see what happens. The fan and humidifier needs to be run a few times a day for about ten minutes to maintain humidity levels and there is enough gaps in the greenhouse cover for proper oxygen/co2 exchanges when the fan is run, did you know mushrooms take in oxygen and expel co2?, and again the temp is spot on perfect, so if I fail it going to have to have been the lighting. If anybody out there has an answer to my lighting issue please chime in.

My end result.

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ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:37 pm

It took a few days but I finally have true pins. In the next week they should mature into beautiful mushrooms.

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I decided to stick with the LED lighting for 18 hours per day, but I moved the lights behind in back for more of an indirect lighting situation. I'm having a little bit of an issue maintaining the correct humidity level simply because it requires me to start the humidifier manually. So I purchased a humidistat that will automatically turn it on when needed, hands free.

I'm excited, I think this is going to work. My wife however, is unimpressed. Haha. She said the whole thing kind of grosses her out. She said it all looks like little phallic sea creatures. :lol: I'm going to rock on though, it's just mushrooms.

George the original one
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by George the original one » Fri Aug 02, 2019 12:28 pm

This sure reminds me of that short story by Ray Bradbury about the kid growing mail-order mushrooms in the family basement...

ffj
Posts: 1981
Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:16 am

Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:16 pm

@George

Haha, the first 30 seconds is the story of my life...https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCnIADUaC4A


Look at them now though:

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They're growing fast.

Seppia
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by Seppia » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:17 pm

Super interesting, your activities make me want to move my ass and ERE ASAP :lol:

I'm excited to see how the mushroom project proceeds. Question: can one do Porcini as well?

theanimal
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by theanimal » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:01 pm

Nice pictures as always. Have you read or listened to anything from Paul Stamets? You might like checking him out. He's obsessed with mushrooms and has a ton of interesting/educational info on all types, from psychoactive to mushrooms for nutrition.

daylen
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by daylen » Sat Aug 03, 2019 12:00 am

Impressive! I think that lighting for most species is not usually an issue, so typically there is a good deal of flexibility there. The build up of CO2 and humidity levels seem to be more critical.

In addition to breathing, fungi are more like animals than plants in other ways. They hunt for potential substrates in their environment using the equivalent of our reach, taste, and smell in some sense.

ffj
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by ffj » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:29 pm

@Seppia

Thanks, I just go where my interests take me, and it's refreshing to find people that understand what makes me tick.

It looks like Porcini is relegated to wild status with poor attempts at cultivation. Unless I've missed something somewhere when I researched it.


@theanimal

I'm reading his book right now. I've also watched some of his videos from 10-15 years ago where he talks of really neat things such as oil spill clean ups and the like using mushrooms. I'm curious now that some time has passed whether some of his predictions have come true?


@daylen

These mushrooms are clearly following the light source, to the point that they are straining to orient themselves towards it. As I only have the light on one side, that is causing a bit of disarray with the clusters and I fear they might become leggy. I wonder if each shelf should have an overhead light? The next few days will tell the tale.


Impressive growth from a day ago:

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jacob
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by jacob » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:39 pm

This is beginning to look like something out of a PBS doc about life on alien planets :geek:

Question ... can all this be done w/o the plastic/contamination precautions and if so, what would happen? When I first started making country wines, I was super-paranoid about getting my brew infected. Eventually it became clear that it was way more robust than I thought. I suppose, the question/research project is ... what degree of perfection is really necessary to preserve a useful outcome? How robust is the process?

daylen
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by daylen » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:52 pm

@ffj The deformation should not effect yield much, but it wouldn't hurt to add more light. More symmetric mushroom bundles probably sell better.

@Jacob I have grown a few bunches with only glass. Using glass is more work (cleaning) and does not scale as well. Oyster mushroom spawn (especially pink) grows fast enough to out-compete most bacteria, so for these varieties sterilization is not absolutely necessary and pasteurization is sufficient. For something like shiitake, sterilization is a must. On the more extreme end, creating the conditions to grow morels is possible but requires state of the art technique and equipment.
Last edited by daylen on Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

daylen
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Re: ffj's early retirement

Post by daylen » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:59 pm

Some mushrooms can be grown outside under certain conditions, but the volatility is too high for commercial production. To answer your question more directly, the process is reasonably robust when taking a few basic precautions that would be taught in a microbiology lab (I assume).

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