Davis Tyler

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since Mar 30, 2015
Southern New Hampshire (Zone 5)
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Recent posts by Davis Tyler

I also use an electrically-heated bucket waterer with nipple spouts in the winter.  It draws around 250 Watts, and turns off above 40 degrees F

The only solutions I have seen in my area that don't involve heaters are based on bringing up well water from below the frost line

I think the old-time farmers in this area solved this problem by packing all their animals into the barn over winter and relying on their body heat to keep the water troughs above freezing.  Works great with a couple dozen head of cows, but not so much with only a few chickens
2 days ago
what's the main problem with your existing stove?  Just the daily temperature swings?  How long does a load of dry firewood last?  What sort of high and low temperature do you see in the stove room throughout the day?

How many cords of wood do you burn in a typical winter?

There are efficient catalytic and secondary-burn stoves that even out the temperature swings.  They're not cheap.  I load my Blaze King 2x a day all winter long (3x a day if the night drops into single-digits).  It keeps the house between 65-72 degrees 24/7.  I burn 3-4 cords of hardwood most winters.

The cheapest long-term solution is to improve the insulation and air-sealing of the house. There's a lot of low-hanging fruit for improvement in most cold-climate houses.  
3 months ago
I grow garlic every year and it keeps until the next year.  I store it on crates in my unheated basement

Cucumbers come in at the end of August.  That's when I make pickles

I don't bother growing dill.  There is a community garden nearby - someone is always growing dill and can never use it all.  Just ask and they're more than willing to give it away or trade for something I have.  

The goal of gardening is not 100% self-sufficiency for me.  I'm very happy growing 2/3 of the ingredients for pickles

steve bossie wrote:I've been growing oysters for several years now in the house and outdoors in 5 gal. pails. i have about a doz. 1/4in holes drilled in each bucket. i cover each hole with a piece of duct tape. i do 2 buckets at a time. i add 15c of hardwood pellets to each bucket. then add and mix in 3 3/4 c wheat bran or brown rice flour. i then boil and add 1 gal +2cups water and pour in to my hardwood pellets. cover and let set until the medium is just barely warm or you could let cool over night. next day with a disinfected glove/ arm, mix in about 2 cups of well broken up spawn. take a clean knife and put a slit in each tape covered hole. place in a warm place (70+) for colonization for 3 weeks. i open the lid and check it every other day but leave it to colinate for 1 week unopened. in about 3-4 weeks it should be all white on the surface. i then move it to a cooler dimly lit room and wait for pins to start coming out of the slits and push off the tapes. i then place the buckets in a clean clear plastic sterile tote with 6 2in. holes cut around the middle. stuffed with pillow stuffing. sterilize that too. mist with boiled and cooled water on all surfaces on the inside of the tote but not the mushrooms or the lid where it could drip on the mushrooms. wait for your shrooms to grow. you can usually get 3 flushes out of them by adding a cup of boiled/ cooled water to each bucket, after each flush. cover the holes with new tape with slits and put it back in a warm room again for 2 weeks to rehydrate. then repeat. when they arent giving many mushrooms anymore, you can use the spent spawn several times to inoculate  a fresh pellet mix. just use double the spent spawn than you would new spawn. I've added some spent coffee ground instead of wheat bran and it still worked pretty good. i use the warm weather oyster strain otherwise you would need a lot colder temps to trigger fruiting . it doesn't get easier than that. good luck!

simple and effective - I like it!

I got my winecap spawn from North Spore - very good quality and my outdoor woodchip bed flushes twice a year without hardly any work on my part.

Is your hole-y fruiting chamber getting enough fresh air to the mushrooms - no stunted or deformed small pins?  Do you open the lid to fan it a few times a day?  Any problems with breathing spores indoors?  I've heard some horror stories but I think those were people with dozens of straw bags fruiting indoors in a small commercial operation, not just a block or two.

I like the idea of using the old spawn to inoculate a new block, without going back to agar or spore syringes.  How long have you kept this going?  Do you eventually have to go back to buy new grain spawn from North Spore after # batches?

Are you accomplishing all this without a pressure cooker, or any sterile transfer techniques?

3 months ago
Looking for some guidance on setting up a small-scale ongoing oyster mushroom growing operation.  I already have an outdoor winecap stropharia bed that yields 2-3 flushes per year from spring to fall, but I'm looking for continuous year-round production.  2-3 pounds per week would be plenty for my family of 5 – no interest in scaling up to commercial volumes.  

I would like it to be relatively low-tech and low-input cost.  I'm not fixated on the absolute maximum production, rather on using a mix of free and cheap inputs that give me a high chance of success.  Many of the sterile culture techniques seem overly fussy to me: glove boxes, flow hood, sealed rooms with airlock doors, pressure cookers and autoclaves, boiling 50 gallon drums of water for hours on end.  Hoping I can do away with some of that while still minimizing losses due to contamination.  I'm also not excited about the single-use autoclavable plastic bags; hoping I can reuse containers between batches.

Here are the ingredients I have available, and the ones I'll need to buy:

Mushroom mycelium culture:
start simple by buying bag of grain spawn online
eventually move to liquid cultures (malt extract solution) in mason jars with self-healing injection ports

Spawn run:

Quart canning jars – already have these for canning vegetables

Pressure cooker  - I'll need to buy one.    

Rye/millet - available for spawn jars $45/25 lb box = $1.80/lb

Wild bird seed: $11.99/35 lb = $0.34/lb

Bulk substrate run:

Spent grain from brewing beer  - ~15 pounds of malted barley that's been rinsed of most of its sugars.  Still contains ~5% protein plus all the cellulose

Hardwood fuel pellets: $5 for a 40-lb bag, less in bulk. $0.13/lb

Straw is expensive around here - $10-12 for a small square bale. $12.50/25 lb chopped straw @ TSC = $0.50/lb

Wood ashes – free.  Probably 20-30 gallons per winter

Hydrated lime: $20/50-lb bag

Here is my plan  - interested to hear any feedback, good or bad:

Start with rye-based grain spawn in quart jars, then inoculate @ 10% of bulk substrate weight prior to incubation.

My bulk substrate will be 80% hardwood fuel pellets, 20% spent malted barley, and maybe a pinch of gypsum.  Planning to try wood ash pasteurization, though info is hard to find online.  I have a pH meter to test the ash/water solution to make sure it gets above 11 pH.  I will soak my HWFP/spent grain mixture in this lye water overnight, then drain before packing into container and inoculating with spawn.

I plan to use plastic buckets for bulk substrate and fruiting blocks.  Probably 4-gallon kitty-litter buckets, nested together with one bucket intact and the inner bucket drilled with holes to allow oyster mushroom fruiting clusters.  I'm hoping the lye water mixture will be basic enough to pasteurize the buckets so they can be re-used several times.

Fruiting and harvesting:

I'll need to build something for this.  It may get hi-tech.  Growing indoors poses some environmental hazards – mushrooms want 95% relative humidity, and they drop a lot spores when they mature.  Both hazards for indoor air quality.  So the goal is to setup a mini environment for the fruiting mushrooms, but isolate it from the basement grow room.  My thought is to build a vertical two-chamber unit – maybe re-purpose an old refrigerator.  Divide into an upper and lower chamber with a solid shelf of some sort.  Fruit the mushrooms above, and use the bottom chamber to condense out the humidity and airborne spores.
Alternatively, I've also seen people start with a 4-tier mini-greenhouse shelf system and pipe in air from a humidifier.  As far as I can tell, this setup works well but the humidity and spores ultimately end up in your living space, which is not ideal.  The only low-tech setups I've seen indoors are a "misting tent" which is just a plastic bag over the fruiting block and a spray bottle.  I think this will be very hard to maintain the environment to get a good yield.

Eventually I'll need to learn how to build my olwn liquid cultures and take spore sprints so I don't need to continue buying cultures online.

But in the near term, I'm focused on reliably processing bulk substrate and getting the blocks to fruit
3 months ago
yes that's what I gather from my reading too

it just now clicked that this is the key to the efficiency confusion

when I ran the calculations on how much usable heat is wasted up the chimney, even on an efficient catalytic woodstove.  

The wood stove sacrifices heat to avoid creosote buildup and the hotter burn of the RMH makes that compromise unnecessary.

Now, if only the RMH builders can come up with a code-compliant design that doesn't include a rusty barrel in my living room, or re-enforcing my floor/foundation!
5 months ago

David Huang wrote:

David Baillie wrote:
Hi David,
could you do me a favour and tell me what kind of wood stove did you use before the RMH and roughly how old was it? The reason I ask is not to cause trouble just the consumption numbers given by RMH enthusiasts for conventional wood stoves alway seem incredibly high to me based on my own consumption making me wonder what kind of stoves they were. By the way that is an awesome amount of kindling you have stacked there!
Cheers,  David

Hello David.  The woodstove I had before was a Hearthstone Tribute model.  This is a small stove rated to heat a space twice as large as what I was heating.  It was probably better than the average woodstove in that it is a model with soapstone that certainly did function as a bit of mass to retain heat longer.  I bought it new.  I don't fully remember how long I was using it.  I'll guess roughly 7 years, maybe a bit more.  During normal winter days I would burn two full hods of wood plus a couple extra logs.  Basically I would shove as much wood into the hod as I could, pick it up with one hand to carry inside and then grab one more decent sized log with my free hand.  In order to stay warm I pretty much had to be burning all the time.  At night I would fill the firebox as much as possible just before going to bed.  If I happened to get up at night for a bathroom run I'd see if it was still burning well enough for me to add more, but otherwise it would go out sometime during the night and generally the house would be cold in the morning.  On really cold days when temps got down to the negative degrees Fahrenheit it was sometimes unable to keep the house warm.  I roughly figured I was using 2 to 3 cords of wood in a winter.  Now I'm certainly down to half that, likely less.  Also with the old wood stove I would be using my propane furnace as back up heat having it set to kick on if the temp dropped below 58.  It would turn on many nights after the fire burned out.  With the RMH I'm using 80% to 90% less propane because it basically never turns on at night.

I've been skeptical of the fantastical claims made by some RMH advocates, but this is an impressive comparison.  The Hearthstone Tribute is an efficient modern secondary burn stove - assuming you were burning dry wood and operating with a proper installation, reducing your fuel consumption by 50% and propane usage by 80% is remarkable.

The only thing I can attribute it to is the lower exhaust temperature of the RMH.  Have you ever measured the exhaust temperature of your heater?  I've read claims of 150F which would be great.  There are a lot of wasted BTUs in the exhaust plume of even a modern clean-burning woodstove

I heat my home with a Blaze King, which lists 75-80% efficiency.  I asked the vendor about exhaust temperatures and he said roughly 250-600F to prevent creosote formation.  He estimates the stove consumes 60 CFM at an average burn rate.

So 60 CFM * 0.07967 lbs/ft^3 = 4.78 lbs/min of hot air lost to the atmosphere

Specific heat of air is 0.24 BTU/lb F

Let's say we would ideally drop the exhaust gas from 450F to 150F

If we could scavenge that heat, we would have an additional
4.78 lbs/min * 0.24 BTU/lb * (450-150F)  = 344 BTU/min, or 20,650 BTU/hr to heat our house instead of the world.

For reference, the Blaze King brochure lists the burn output from 12,000 to 36,000 BTU/hr.  So the waste heat is basically equal to the usable heat.  But in a woodstove installation with a tall chimeny we can't scavenge this heat safely because it would cause creosote formation.

If the RMH designs can indeed safely scavenge this waste heat from the exhaust heat, it's conceivable that they can achieve the amazing fuel reductions stated.
5 months ago
it might be a fun project for someone, but the incentives through MassSave gives you $1,000 rebate per ton of capacity.  A $1,300 minisplit would only cost you $300.  And it's guaranteed to work.  The backwards A/C will freeze the coil in cold weather since there is no reversing valve or defrost cycle.
6 months ago

Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:HeatSmart or HeatNotSoSmart?
My state offers rebates to incentivize installing ductless heat pumps, air source or ground source.  Bit should I?

We have a wall-mounted AC that came with the building (circa 1950??? It has dinosaur prints on it).  For heating, we have (trigger warning) baseboard electric.  

If we replaced it, what would happen to the cfc's, hcfc's or whatever is kn there? What about production of new hcfcs? Embodied energy of creating the heat pump?

A rocket mass heater is extremely out f the question for here--an apartment bld of 12 units.  But I think I could sell the landlord on a heat pump with the argument, "Do you hate money or something? " plus the word "rebate".  However, I have trust issues.  I saw the trash pickup the other day throw a window ac unit in the compactor (!). It had been left out in the dumpster, probably by someone who didn't know the laws about ac disposal. But how do I know if the dump really handles the hcfc's or whatever resposibly??

So I am looking into the retrofit option...and I am not a techy.  

One source says "you have to replace the outdoor tube with a wider tube" and open up the cfc tube in the process. That's above my pay grade.

I've got the "heat the person not the air" memo.  But sometimes the air is complaining that it's too cold in here.  I guess I need to get her some heat pads and incandescents, but should I also pursue the heat pump thing?  It's so tantalizing...

I haven't checked but I assume that a home repair cannot simply turn the ac around and aim the cold end out at the bitter New  England winter.  

Can the outside tube instead of replacement be fitted with "wings" (like they have on baseboard electric heaters and steam radiators to disperse the heat) that increase its surface area? Would these wings accumulate more heat or just cool the outside tube even more? Is there an easy way to change the order of the components in the unit (I understand the order is what differentiates an ac from a heat pump--exchanger, condenser,  evaporator,  etc.).

Thanks team!


the ductless minisplit heat pump was pretty much invented for this application use-case

they run 3x-4x more efficient than the electric baseboard heaters, and god-knows-how-much-more-efficient than that old 1950s rattle-box.  

Take the MassSaves discount for a minisplit heat pump, and enjoy the comfort and lower electric bill

recycle the old A/C at your Town Transfer Station.  They have contractors who will pump down the old freon and dispose of it safely.
6 months ago

Kathleen Sanderson wrote:I plan to surround my small wood stove (a Vermont Castings Aspen) with bricks on three sides and underneath.  The bricks will hold the heat some overnight, but the biggest benefit will be having an extra heat shield.  I do want to build a rocket mass heater, but that will entail cutting a big hole in the floor, reinforcing the floor joists, and pouring a footing in the middle of the house.  It’s on my list, but near the bottom right now.

Is the stove installed too close to the walls?  Or sitting on a combustible surface? ( I hope not!)

Here's the installation manual for your stove:

don't rely on loose-stacked bricks to correct a faulty installation

6 months ago