Danny Smithers

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since Nov 03, 2013
Florissant, CO
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Recent posts by Danny Smithers

As a rule in general, the less sterile you are, the more you want to increase your spawn to substrate ratio. I did an experiment where I took three 5-gallon buckets with un-pasteurized straw and purposely was messy with the whole process, each bucket got a different ratio of spawn. The one with the most spawn produced handsomely while the other two did little. Granted the one that produced eventually got eaten by maggots (oyster mushrooms might as well be a dying carcass to flies), but that was expected. I just wanted to see how the buckets did outdoors with no protection. Good luck with your oyster shroom future! I'm trying to create a business with them by growing them in a bus on my off-grid spread. Lot's of interesting challenges to come indeed.
2 years ago
I'v personally planted a variety of perennial crops in hopes for oil eventually including hazelnut, hazelbert, maxmillian sunflower, and butternut trees. I wish I could let you know the efficacy, but it will be several years before I can speak to the results. I do want to focus on the butternut tree though... It has some advantages over other nut producers in that it is very hearty, and it also produces a syrup that can be tapped. Does anyone have much experience with this tree? I've planted 5 or so, but plan to plant more this year--A couple enjoyed death (or at least delayed growth) by rabbit this year. I know it is a slow grower, but from what I understand it produces quite well once mature. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

And as a thought in terms of oil, I feel like squash and camelina have really good potential as well. I know they are not perennial, but they seem like they get ignored and just wanted to throw them out there. I'm going to be trying squash as an oil source this year.

2 years ago
The place I plan to put the ground nuts is next to a seasonal creek in partial shade, so I'm thinking it is close to their natural habitat, so hopefully it goes better than your experience Tyler (sorry to hear it). And they have plenty of aspen trees to climb up, so we will see.

Also, after writing my previous post I thought about using squash seeds for a staple oil crop. That way you obviously get the staple squash to eat and then also press the seeds for cooking oil. I see there is plenty of squash seed oil for sale, but have never tried it for cooking before. Considering the seed size, this might be a good direction for a solid combination. You can use all kinds of squash and pumpkins for this technique, kind of makes me wonder why I've never thought of it before.

According to one article, "Fifty pounds of seeds makes one gallon of oil. To put that another way, it takes ten squashes worth of seeds to press enough oil to fill one 6.3-ounce bottle."

So depending on how much oil you use a year, it's a feasible oil crop. And the bonus is that you can let the seeds stay in the squash for up to 9 months because they store for so long--depending on climate of course. Seems like another ultimate staple crop along with ground nut (in theory).
2 years ago
Is anyone trying ground nuts?

I'm still in the "setup" phase of my homestead plot and haven't done much growing there yet... I have planted a lot of support species, trees and shrubs that won't produce much for years. But I have done a lot of thinking about staple crops. I feel that along with heavily caloric staple crops, oil crops should also be considered. Most staples taste better this way, and they provide other essential fats and nutrients.

My plans for staple crops are:

-Potatoes--Which have grown quite well in some test plots without any amendment.
-Sunflowers for oil--Which the rodentia seem to enjoy and so I am working on dealing with them.
-Spaghetti Squash--I planted a lot of seed and got only one healthy plant with no care (thinking the rodents got these seeds too), so this squash will be providing all my seeds for this summer. I am attempting to breed a high-altitude spaghetti squash variety.
-Jereselum Artichokes--Planted some last year, will be planting a lot more this year.
-Rhubarb (low in calories, but high in flavor)
-Horseradish (just a huge fan of the spice)

I want to add ground nuts to this list and I have not seen anyone on this thread talk about ground nuts at all (unless I missed it). This perennial tuber seems like a great low-maintenance crop with three times the protein of potatoes and a variety of positive nutrition traits. And this is not to be confused with the peanut which is also called groundnut sometimes.

These tubers were heavily relied upon by a lot of Native American tribes. Along with the nutritious tuber, it produces an edible bean/seed and is also a nitrogen fixer. It seems like this could be an all-star of permaculture staple crops with all these attributes.

I have done a lot of research, but haven't heard from many individuals on their ground nut growing experiences. Is anyone on this thread trying it?
2 years ago
Great information Joseph! That definitely doesn't sound like adequate seed/acre for any oil production at this juncture. Until your mega-seed sunchoke comes into the fold of course. Considering the maxmillian has so many more flowers, how much maxmillian seed could you pull off of that 40 ft row do you think? I'm looking for a low (no) maintenance perennial oil crop of some sort that can be grown in zone 4, and so far that's what I've come up with. I don't want to hijack the thread and turn it into an oil/maxmillan discussion, so I'll keep researching.
2 years ago
Has anyone ever tried pressing oil from Sunchoke seeds? Since it is related to the sunflower, I'm thinking it might have possible oil for extraction. I read that Native Americans used the perennial Maxmillian Sunflowers for oil, which have small seeds and look similar. I'm wondering if Sunchokes could be used for the same. I couldn't find any info in the Googleverse on this, wondering if anyone here has tried it or heard about it.
2 years ago
Thanks John, I was always curious about the size of the holes and their effect on the process (insert crude sex joke here). How long do you leave the medical tape on for? And did you remove all of it at once or just as each hole began to pin? If you look at my picture, I had a two-bucket system where I would close the holes by turning the bucket until the straw was colonized, and then would twist the bucket so the holes would match again when the substrate had been dominated. It seemed to work and mold wasn't really my issue, it was the flies. That's why I'm going toward a full interior setup. I will try some experiments with the smaller holes, seems like they produce more aesthetically appealing mushrooms anyway.
2 years ago
I agree Reisha, and my experiment with this really did not pan out. The mycelium started running, but then just puttered out. I've had similar experiences on smaller batches. And I have had success with coffee grounds, but I believe the risk of contamination is much higher in that substrate--the grains are so easy for molds to colonize. I am moving toward straw as a substrate and will attempt to use the cold fermentation process in the future. I've had some success with zero-pasteurization on straw. But it was all done outdoors just to see how it would go. I used purchased spawn in a 5-gallon bucket and it did nicely, until the flies found it, at which time it became maggot food. I've attached a photo of that.

So now I am going to up my experiment and it will probably demand a whole new thread when I get the time. I purchased a full-sized school bus and a city shuttle bus. The school bus will be my mushroom grow room, and the city shuttle will be my spawn room. Each will be have sanitizing entry rooms and will be heated with rocket mass heaters in the winter. I got both of these vehicles for $700 total and they both actually drive--so I couldn't pass it up. There are a lot of design details to work out out and a lot of questions to ask before I put it all together. But if you are interested in seeing how monumentally awesome/fucked-up the experiment turns out, I will post a link here to that new thread when I get it up--probably will be a bit in the future with so much research to do. Out of all the Permaculture principles, slow/small solutions was always the one I struggled with.

2 years ago
They did not come with a feeder, that is my quandary. UPS doesn't allow feeders. So I'm trying to figure out how often to spray them. They will be installed with feeders in the morning, but I'm not sure about how to keep them happy tonight with a 1:1 spray.
3 years ago
So I introduced a bee package (I know there are differing opinions on whether or not packages are good practice, but I would like to focus on the situation as opposed to the philosophical debate) to my top bar hive a couple weeks back and then we got pummeled by a week of snow, rain and freezing temps. Had I been able to postpone my bee arrival, I would have, but it was reserved back in February. That initial package couldn't handle the conditions without being established and expired after building some comb:(. So I overnight-ed another package of bees but they arrived too late for installment this evening and I am keeping them inside tonight. They do not have a feeder because UPS doesn't allow them and I am spraying them with sugar water 1:1 ratio in the meantime and will be installing them the first thing tomorrow morning. I just want to know if I can overspray them, and if they do not have a feeder, how often I should spray them. Any help is appreciated. I want these bees to be very happy!
3 years ago