Arthur Wierzchos

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since Nov 02, 2023
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After becoming an award winning eco-tour guide and photographer in Hawaii - my life transitioned to one based on Permaculture principles. I received my PDC in 2012, then became certified in Korean Natural Farming practices, followed by enrollment into the Tropical Ecosystem and Agroforestry Management (TEAM) program at the local University. I spent 16 years in Hawaii, then Taiwan for a couple of years, and now in Poland, where my great grandparents lived. The focus now is on developing a regenerative and syntropic style silvopasture system that helps to restore the natural water cycle.
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Insko, Poland zone 7a
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Recent posts by Arthur Wierzchos

Inspirational Memes

More Shiitake Photos

Some images from my Shiitake Mushroom growing days, plus Oyster Mushrooms.

Saving Kiwi seeds.

Yacon and Vetiver before pictures.  

Congrats on your first Shiitake, Angel!  I still remember the first one I ever found and harvested from my own experimental logs.  It was a little hard to believe, and I wasn't even sure if it was Shiitake, but it definitely was, although I waited a bit too long to harvest.  It was huge!  

To answer your questions:  

Last year I took a workshop that facilitated creating one's own shitake log. For the past year I have been dutifully soaking my log in a bucket of water each week or so per the instructions I received, and today I saw my first signs of fruiting!

The timing seems about right.  It can take 6 months - about a year, depending on the strain and the wood species it is partnered with.  It is not necessary to soak the logs that frequently from my experience.  The main thing is to not let them dry out too much.  Placing the logs in a shady spot that gets enough rainfall occasionally is usually enough. Protection from desiccating winds is helpful as well.  After the incubation period of about 1 year is when the "force fruiting" cycles can begin, which can be done every few months or so. My method was to soak the logs under water for about 20 hours, then stack them on blocks sticking out of a mote as a way to prevent slugs and snails from accessing them.   Again, this depends on the strain you are playing with.  Some strains are better suited to natural fruiting cycles, and don't respond to force fruiting.  My guess is that you are playing with a strain that responds to force fruiting.  

I have questions about next steps. Does my routine need to change at all? This about the time I would give it a weekly soak in the bucket. Should I continue doing that while it is fruiting?

There is no need to soak the log while it is fruiting, although a misting spray to keep the mushrooms moist while they are growing can be beneficial, especially if it is hot and dry out. Try to keep them out of too much direct sun in the beginning.  The mushrooms usually take about 10 days or more to fully develop.  For the best quality I usually harvested before the caps fully opened to the point of flattening, but after they detached themselves from the stem.  After harvesting is when they can be placed in the sun with gills facing up in order to sky-rocket the vit D levels.  Anything over 8 hours can be overkill, unless you are looking to have dried shiitake to store for later use.  

My log is resting horizontally on two smaller logs to keep it off the ground, but most of the one's I've seen online are stacked more vertically/diagonally. Does this matter?

Nope.  Doesn't really matter so much.  You can even hang them up with ropes to get them off of the ground and away from the snails/slugs if those can be problematic for you.  This, of course, is easy to do if you only have a few logs.

Here is the off-grid mote protected stack method I was using. I would often force fruit and stack about 10-20 logs at a time:

Is there an art to harvesting? How will I know when a mushroom is ready to harvest? Does harvesting frequently encourage more fruiting similar to flowers?

As mentioned earlier -for best quality you'll want to harvest sometime between when the cap separates itself from the stem, and when it begins to flatten out. If you wait until the cap flattens out it is also totally fine.  The mushroom will be larger, and can be great for pan frying in a little bit of butter and salt.  Umami!

Here is an image of the ideal harvesting stage I would shoot for:

Harvesting more frequently actually Decreases fruiting.  You want to give the log a break to allow the mycelium within to rebuild its energy reserves for the next fruiting.  I would usually wait 2-3 months between each force fruiting cycle.  Some logs can fruit a lot at once, and some only provide a mushroom or two each time.  It can be highly variable.  If a log consistently fruits heavily, then the lifespan of that log will likely be much shorter.  If a log produces only a few mushrooms each time, then the overall lifespan can last much longer.  There is only so much food avialable in the log for the mycelium to consume.  Some get consumed quicker than others.  I had some larger hardwood logs that kept fruiting for me for 7 years!  But others turned into punky light logs that started falling apart after only a few years.  
2 months ago
While one hugel is on its way out:

Another is about to be born. Or is it?  

Am I making a mistake?  

This is in mom and dads garden, which is on a small lot with very little space to play with, in a meticulously manicured space.  Mom and Dad aren't exactly "Permies", and they reluctantly deal with, but sometimes tolerate, my unconventional visions and experiments. I was given an OK to redo their annual garden space, which is a fertile section of earth that always produces huge tomato plants, lots of carrots, peppers, and a nice diversity of greens.  

Here are a couple of photos showing the spot to potentially be transformed:

I have already started staging the material and digging around the edges.  It will be a horseshoe shape facing towards the southwest, so kind of a sun trap, but not totally.  The horseshoe will wrap around with enough space for another hugel island in the middle.  If i continue with this vision/experiment then more photos will come to show this more clearly.

This is a huge amount of work. No machines being used.  Just me and a shovel for the most part.  

I am now questioning this decision, especially after reading into the recent post about the death of a hugel.  My concerns are that the hugel will not be as productive as the space was previously, and will become infested with slugs, which tend to already be a problem in the garden.  

I do have some ideas for dealing with the slugs, such as raising my own slug killing nematodes, strategically growing "trap" plants such as cabbage in pots that can be moved around from one spot to another, and placing older flat and rotting lumber around to lift up and pick off the slugs from for purpose of consistently feeding the DIY nematode solution.  Im thinking of diluting this potion and soaking it in and around the hugel from time to time.

The size will be nothing like what Paul typically recommends, so no BB points for hugelkulture with this project.  Ill be shooting for about 4-5 ft tall, and about 3-4 ft wide at the base.  

Am I wasting my time, creating an eye sore for mom and dad, inviting too many pests, and ultimately giving "permaculture" a bad name with this?  

A project to experiment with in the future on my own land instead?  
2 months ago
Hi. My name is Arthur, and I have broken more shovels than I can count.  Its a little embarrassing, actually.  Shovels tend to live their last days in my hands.  And not just shovels, but other garden tools with long handles that offer leverage.  Pitch fork? Bent and crooked.  Garden hoe? Chipped metal at the ends from accidentally hitting rocks too hard.  

Im getting better, though.  Instead of outright breaking the handles I instead slow down and stop when i begin to hear the popping sounds of stress cracks. Instead of breaking the handles, they just get weaker and weaker over time, until eventually they turn into useless noodles, at which point I try to fix them with metal pipe. It kind of helps, but only for a short while until they do eventually irreparably break again.  

I cant bring myself to throw them away. The last remnants of whatever life is left in them still gets to fulfill their purposeful existence as dirt digging implements, albeit as hand tools picking up more dust and debris, rather than glorious scoops of rocks and cow turds. These weak and rusty shovels without handles now find themselves partnered with a broom that has a wobbly duck taped handle - also clinging to whatever life remains.  

I did finally find a shovel that has been able to 'handle' my abuse for the time being.  Its a smaller, shorter, and heavier one made from solid metal. Im really diggin this one..
2 months ago
More Hugel images from mom and dads garden.

Frankentree Project.

Humanure Compost Pile.  

7 year old JADAM Liquid Fertilizer images.

Sifting Wood Ash.

Forest Cleaning.

Planting Bilberry Cuttings and Mulching with tree trimmings.

When To Do Something quote.

Funny Job Application Meme.

Going-To-Seed starts and seeds.

Starting a Hugelkultur at mom and dads garden.  

For Chain Sharpening BB. Not sure if this is an "edge case".  Its hard to tell from the photos the difference between un-sharpened and sharpened..

Also including images of the pile of sticks being stacked for the future kon tiki biochar pit.

Additionally some images towards Tree Cutting BB.

Plus, debarked and stacked off the ground logs - updated photo.

And Highland Cows from a neighbors place!  
Congrats to you all!  

And thanks for helping to make this forum so excellent that we just cant stop coming back for more.

Your support, encouragement, and engagement is very much appreciated.  

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