Patrick Bales

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since Aug 21, 2018
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Aspiring mushroom farming homesteader's gotta start somewhere.
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Recent posts by Patrick Bales

I've always wanted to give growing crimini mushrooms a try, but haven't gotten around to it. Commerically though, my concern would be that agaricus mushrooms like buttons and portabellas would be competing with low grocery store prices - at least in my area. The price per pound is really low due to low operational costs of those big automated factory farms.

You might be able to charge a higher price at the market for varieties like lion's mane, black poplar, or cordyceps. Those are a lot less common and people generally expect to pay a little more for an "exotic" produce item not found in stores near them.

Good luck, post cool pics!  
5 years ago
Exposing the entire colonized mushroom block surface will allow the block to dry very rapidly, which isn't good for oysters in particular. Keeping the bag on allows a protective layer of humidity right where primordia should be forming. Even at a high humidity, air moving through a fruiting chamber can have a drying effect (especially if dry air is vented in and then humidified after entering). Also, if you do expose a large surface area, oyster blocks can grow a lot of tiny, long mushrooms in the shape of a wig or beard, as opposed to just a few nice clusters.
5 years ago
Dustin, I can't answer all of your questions at this time, but I do sincerely thank you for your replies and input. Typically you want to use these spalting starters like finger paint, under clean conditions.

Regarding safe handling, release, etc, I can say that I'm proud to be permitted and fully compliant with USDA APHIS permit requirements for shipping these fungi to 48 states. Full standard instructions will include double bagging for disposal. There is no release when instructions are followed.
5 years ago

Dustin Rhodes wrote:
- Shelf-stable, long lasting in the can(or alive/regenerative);
- no VOC or other toxic chemicals;
- can't decrease the integrity of the wood(if used correctly);
- can be used on ANY wood species;

It's alive. Unknown storage characteristics, lasts at least 3 months unopened.
No toxic chemicals, I've eaten it. (Working with spalted wood, the finished product, poses its own unique risks for immuno-compromised individuals. Basically use breathing filters around wood dust.)
Spalting is wood rot, that naturally decreases structural integrity of wood, which is somewhat controllable by timing the length of the spalting process - spalted wood should not be used as a load-bearing material.
There are multiple spalting fungi for every wood species.

Dustin Rhodes wrote:I'd be willing to pay a fair bit for it

Well, two bits is $.50 where I'm from... Are you sure you wouldn't go any higher?  
5 years ago
Hi all, I hope nobody minds if I use this forum for some basic product research for a product that doesn't exist yet.

How much would you pay to be able to spalt your own wood as a DIY project, with a 3 month time frame?

* 10 square feet of wood coverage
* product can be applied to green or rehydrated wood with rough/sanded finish
* product is applied easily like a paste, like "finger paints"
* project is stored in moist conditions, above 50 degrees for 2-3 months during spalting process

If you could literally take 10 sq feet of cheap "value wood" pine from the hardware store and induce spalting to produce bleaching/zone lines/coloration,
If you could take a debarked piece of green wood and spalt it,
If you could take a finished item with a rough/sanded finish and spalt it,
what would you be interested in paying for this product? (treats 10 sq feet of wood in a 3 month time frame)

Thank you

5 years ago
Thanks Bryant, I was unaware that the remaining hydrated lime would give the fungi a disadvantage. I've done hydrated lime pasteurization in indoor grows with chopped straw and with wood pellets, both with oysters, with success - straw is drained, and with pellets the lime water hydrates the wood so nothing is drained. The technique is used with straw and pelleted wood but it seems that white/blue oyster can handle it better than other species. So I have the benefit of learning something new today.  The bulk of my grows have been indoors using sawdust or straw, and working with oysters or lion's mane.  
5 years ago
I'm guessing that the mushroom bed has been laid by now, but I just saw this. I wanted to mention that there are a couple of different ways you could pasteurize the woodchips without the need to raise their temperature to kill off the microorganisms. I personally would not try to put that pile in a pot and boil it up, it's just too much material for that kind of treatment.

Cold pasteurization can be achieved by a soak in water with hydrated lime dissolved in it (which is the mineral powder that is left after limestone is incinerated). The hydrated lime should be fairly fresh, as it will oxidize and lose effectiveness over time. At least 2 grams hydrated lime per quart of water should be used, and for barrel sized amounts "a big double handful" will work. The hydrated lime raises the pH level to highly alkaline, which kills off the bulk of the serious competitor microorganisms in the woodchips.

Other way to do it would be just a long soak in water, like 2 weeks. You could move the woodchips onto a tarp, prop up the tarp on all sides, and fill it up like a really gross swimming pool. After 2 weeks the water will be stinky, anaerobic bacteria odors are not pleasant. Drain the water and allow to dry out in the sun. The operating theory is that the water creates an anaerobic environment that allows anaerobic microorganisms that colonize the soaked wood, instead of the normal aerobic competition. Once the water is drained and the wood starts to dry, this kills off the anaerobic population, which effectively creates a pasteurized woodchip pile.

I have done the hydrated lime soak method but mostly with wood pellets. I haven't done the water-only 2 week pasteurization myself, but I've read of it being done many times with claims of success following.
5 years ago
Season 4 of "Building Off the Grid" has an episode titled Mushroom House, they have it on Amazon instant video. Description "Sage Stoneman teams up with SunRay Kelley to build a mushroom-shaped house." In that episode, they do use living mushroom blocks in a mushroom-shaped cob material building, a scenic guest house built on a huge cedar stump. The blocks are used whole, as building blocks that are stacked and plastered together using cob techniques. They don't dry out / sterilize the blocks first, and they get mushrooms poking out from the mud plaster on the following day. It's a fun episode to watch, the building site is picturesque, and the folks on the show are pretty charming.

I wonder - about using mushroom spawn mixed directly into mud/straw as cob material instead being used as building blocks. It seems to me that it might be possible to increase the tensile strength of the material if you used the right strain of mushroom to bind it together. Or, heck, use straw that has been inoculated with the same fungus. Honey mushroom (armillaria gallica, a. mellea) has thick, strong, black rhizomes that can bind soil together. Have I done it? No. But I was definitely fascinated by the concept in the "Building Off the Grid" episode I watched. I produce a decent quantity of mushroom blocks and I'm starting to nurture an interest in natural building, especially since I've been on this site.

Regarding a dome house made of primarily mycelium (OP) - I'll bet you could build an "igloo" using mushroom blocks, to be covered by other materials. How strong it would be though, and how long it would last... I don't know. Mycelium is cool stuff but it can be eaten by other organisms that don't leave strong mycelia in their wake (trichoderma contamination). Perhaps that would weaken the structure.
5 years ago
I get most of my food prep knowledge from my wife, who is a certified hot foods chef. She doesn't care for the soft texture of fresh mushrooms that have been frozen, then thawed. I've read that the slow freezing process bursts cell wells and affects the texture - they're probably well prepared to make a tincture, this way. I'm not sure which mushrooms she has tested, freezing from a raw state. She's kind of picky and I'm very married so we cook then freeze.   ;)

I have never personally taken a raw mushroom, frozen it, thawed it, cooked it, eaten it. Food textures are a matter of subjective opinion, I think, up until the head chef says do it over.
5 years ago
Thanks Dee, it's nice to meet you too.  :)
5 years ago