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Building a workstation to assemble Great Big Straw Logs for growing edible mushrooms

 
Posts: 33
Location: Peotone, IL
11
kids fungi books
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I no longer produce straw logs. They're a lot of work for one person to pull off! As I was experimenting with different grow methods for bulk mushroom production, I tried a few things, and this was a thing I tried. Basically it's a cold pasteurization straw method that processes 1 barrel of straw at a time. Once the barrel is lifted and drained on the winch/pulleys, I lift the back of the barrel using another pulley, and voila! there is a floating workstation.

If you are keen on producing mushrooms with straw substrate, maybe you can find a gold nugget in this experience. I came up with this sort-of ergonomic workspace to help mitigate the problem of not having enough overhead clearance to do a proper vertical log-filling station. My solution was to do a diagonally-shaped workstation that floats the drain barrel on its side for filling logs.

I have disassembled my floating workstation, and I no longer produce straw logs for the following reasons which I personally experienced:
*  Takes too long to produce a straw log for my space.

      1) To clarify, you have to create / grow out the spawn material, which takes about 45-50 days. Then inoculate and let that grow out for another 45-60 days. Then if everything went right, you'll know you didn't screw it up 3 months ago. It takes forever to learn of bad practices which means LOSS.

      2) Soaking / pasteurizing / inoculating / stuffing straw takes forever unless you have multiple barrels / baskets setup, which also takes forever


*  You have to chop straw which goes everywhere and clings everywhere. I have allergies. So does my wife.

*  I have a room full of dirty air in my 100-year old basement and saw a lot of contamination. (figured out finally how to fix that!)

*  It wears out your arms to mix in spawn and move the wet straw horizontally to fill a whole straw log. Doing 2 logs = exhausted. Better to switch workers for this.


So if you really want to grow with straw - and you have a low overhead clearance (such as my basement) this might be a viable solution for you. However, I personally moved on to sterilized blocks on wire shelves, due to the amount of work required.


Video links introducing this idea, construction, etc:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pqv00oYwJb8C7EA3kAPa3JPNzPCZb13c

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1L-GXn7ZmA-A0BfB-Glf2H7ijy7utnkAl

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1P92fGZXItHE4h_rXQkCy24XB0D8Fxkui

https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/1P92fGZXItHE4h_rXQkCy24XB0D8Fxkui

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Patrick Bales
Posts: 33
Location: Peotone, IL
11
kids fungi books
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So, this ended up as a ridiculous amount of work to be able to test it all, and I learned a lot about this craft while I did it.

I learned stuff like:

Gold oysters hate cold pasteurization with lime

Manual winches are loud indoors

Dry chopped straw creates its own dust cloud and goes everywhere

Having a single soak barrel does not lend itself to bulk production well

Straw drain baskets, while a pain in the butt to assemble, are highly effective ways to drain a lot of straw - the thick steel ring at the top is the only component not made of hardware cloth or wire

No matter how good your process is, dirty air is your silent enemy (I finally defeated mine recently with a UV-C light hidden in my homemade ventilation system, and have good clean air in my fruiting chamber!)

Ergonomics are one of the most important things to build in to every single level of your workstation, right from the beginning



Anyhow, someone out there is thinking about how to process straw for a mushroom grow, and they have a low ceiling like I do. Perhaps something in my experience will be useful to you.  :)
 
Patrick Bales
Posts: 33
Location: Peotone, IL
11
kids fungi books
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The straw logs themselves were stuffed into 12 inch lay-flat poly tubing. I used a large wooden paddle to pack the straw in tightly, alternating handfuls of spawn. The top of the bags were zip-tied and then rolled (and then later, simply hoisted onto my shoulder and carried) in to my fruiting chamber, where they were hung from big steel hooks. Bags were pierced with an arrow board, spacing 4 inches.
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Thanks for sharing! Lots of cool stuff in these forums, I will keep checking it daily! I've been experimenting with my first ever try at producing oyster mushrooms at home (pleurotus ostreatus), my initial goal is to focus on production of "bricks" of mycelium for selling, rather than fruiting, due to space constraints and other limitations around here. I colonized small plastic pots with bare coffee grounds, mycelium grew fine but I'm finding it too compact, next time I wanna experiment with dry leaves or even banana peels added to the mix. For sure I will share my experiments when I reach some conclusion out of it.
 
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