Rob Read

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since Jan 08, 2013
I grew up and live in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. I am a poet, science fiction author, and permaculturist. I work at the Rotman Institute of Philosophy as an Administrative Assistant. I am a co-founder of the Carolinian Canada Forest Garden Guild, and co-owner of Artemisia's Forest Garden Nursery.
Poplar Hill, Ontario (near London) - Zone 6a
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Recent posts by Rob Read

I'm likewise reassured to find this thread. I am in the same boat as others, except that I was ordering from Canada, so can't easily tell if my money-order was deposited or not (will have to contact my bank about this).

I couldn't hold in my mind anything but a personal disaster getting in the way of Carol's passion to share seeds, but at the same time, was likewise having a hard time with the lack of communication. It worked out well that I didn't get my over $200 order though - since my farm didn't have enough garden space for all that yet! This year I'll have much more prepared from the tarps I've got out over the winter.

In case Carol reads this, or if Joseph is in touch again with her: all my best wishes during whatever she is going through. Through hard lessons in my own personal life in 2017, I learned the hard way that resilience is harder to experience your way through than any book (even Carol's excellent ones) can ever prepare you for.

I'm curious to hear people's experience, as I have some seed in the fridge I'm planning to plant soon. There's a video YouTube of Jonathan Bates crushing the corky shell off a bunch of seeds at the same time by squishing them between two cutting boards.

Freshness of seed is pretty important.
I bought it and it worked very smoothly. I liked the ease of purchase (also prefer download to streaming).
2 years ago
Hi Sky,

I don't know what your base price per unit is currently is on your website (still can't access it from my location for some reason) - but if kickstarter supporters got a bit of a savings on buying EPA approved ones, I'm sure you'd have no problem. I'd support the kickstarter to get a bit of a price deal - plus the value of EPA approval, which it sounds like for some states is mandatory.

You are so far along with the proof of concept, and already selling non-EPA approved units - and you could add stretch goals for the 2.0 model's R&D.
3 years ago
Sky: this innovation sounds really great. Congratulations on bringing this to fruition. I've taken a rocket mass heater workshop with Ernie and Erica, and have a friend who has expertise - so have always considered making my own as the best option. That said, the new place we just got has a lovely interior I'm not too eager to mess with (as in, trying to preserve it's century home feel), so we've been leaning towards wood stove. Your rocket heater sounds like a good middle ground for this particular situation. We can always make our own custom rocket mass heater for the future greenhouse or other structures made on site (where we can also be more confident on the structure of the floor supporting the weight.)

That said - I can't get the URL to work. I'm hoping this means the site is crashing due to oodles of interest in your product!

Also - I'll need information on shipping this to Canada, and whether you guys will offer that, and thought I might as well ask here so others can see the answer. Will you offer shipping to Canada? (I understand that you wouldn't be able to guarantee your units are compliant with Canada's building code, but if you could, that would be great too.)

3 years ago
Based on my experience with Stachys affinis (Chinese Artichokes), they will keep well in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for at least several weeks, and likely a month. You might want to put in a damp paper towel/newspaper to keep them a bit moist. Humid and cool/cold is what you are looking for - trying to keep them dormant. If they are already sprouting when they arrive, I would agree with the advice of potting them up. I did mine one per pot, so they would form little clusters, that could them be spread around the place.

I started most of mine in little peat pots last year, planning to plant them out in the ground when they are bigger. They're still in peat pots now, outdoors, planted under ground level, and under glass/screen to protect from rodents. No action yet that I've noticed this spring, so hoping they survived the winter.

Good luck.

3 years ago
That's really interesting. I wonder if mycorrhizal fungi contribute to something that's always been a bit of a puzzle to me. In Gaea's Garden, Toby talks about apple trees being planted near black walnuts in a guild, although many other sources say apples are negatively effected by juglone. Apparently this is related to the mulberry planted in between the apple and the black walnut acting as a buffer - maybe it's related to mycorrhizal fungi that favor mulberry roots that help create that buffer.

Just a speculation.
3 years ago
Awesome thread! I've learned a lot.

One thing I'll add, though it may be obvious, is dehydrating the mushrooms first before blending might make them easier to powder. Alternately, they might just go leathery and hard to blend.

I don't have direct experience with this, but another idea would be to make the mushrooms into a thick mush (add a bit of water and blend), then dehydrate on a tray, then powder them afterwards. This technique works very well with garlic scapes (no added water required) to make them into a delicious powder.

I'm wondering about just adding them to a tea (once they are powdered). Would that work?

Also - is turkey tail considered something that should be taken strictly therapeutically when someone is suffering from cancer, or could it work as something to take regularly for general good health (like chaga)?
3 years ago
This is a question for Peter McCoy, author of Radical Mycology, who is visiting the forum this week.

Without wanting to go TOO tangential to permaculture, I'm interested about your take on how important mushrooms were to ancient cultures. I've read here and there about how important certain mushrooms have been to world's religions, but don't know much about their more mundane (and more important?) use as food stuffs and medicines.

To give some context, the most recent place I heard about mushrooms as an inspiration was in Robert Graves' The Greek Myths - he mentions consumption of, I think, Fly Agaric, as a religious practice in ancient Greece. There are also theories, many of them arising in the 1960s and 70s, about how important 'holy' mushrooms were to proto-Christian groups like the Essenes (John Allegro wrote books about this), the Vikings (there are theories their berzerkers took mushrooms just before battle), and I'm pretty sure there are references in ancient Indian texts too to use of psychedelics.

Anyway - my question is more on what we know about everyday use of mushrooms in ancient cultures. Feel free to answer in any way that makes sense, as this is a really open question.
3 years ago
While personally I prefer to not 'science the hell out of' this subject (to quote from The Martian), I think it's a worthy question, especially for those brave souls focusing on communicating this to a science-addicted world. (And to be clear, I'm not anti-science, but also wary of the use of 'science' as a weapon (to quote Paul Wheaton).)

Mostly in response to Tyler:

After reading Savory's book Holistic Management, I see the suggestion to use electric fence as an analogue to wolves as predators as a very promising option to assist in re-creating something like a prairie ecosystem, in regions that it's a appropriate to do so. In terms of the actual numbers - I look forward to browsing Eric's new book. Apparently the science so far is pretty inconclusive, especially on grazing.

Incidentally, Holistic Management is actually a decision-making system more than anything else - and as such, even for those who don't intend to raise animals at all, is an approach very complimentary to permaculture.
3 years ago