halifaxearthtech: Photo by Panphage from the Wikimedia Commons (Soil)
The spring workshop roster is filling up. Next tuesday on Valentine's day I'll be presenting at WHW Architects on Humanure, and this saturday at the office of my federal riding's representative Megan Leslie with some friends about Peak Oil and Transition.

On the mushroom front, I'm sorry to say that the enoki had a fruit-fly event. Take it from me if you're going to propagate spawn from a mushroom butt it helps to remove the old butt material after the mycellium has taken. I salvaged some mycelliated cardboard and sandwitched it between damp untreated sawdust. So far the flies seem to be leaving it alone. There is also some Penicillium chrysogenum on the surface of the burlap sacks, but the Pleurotus is so vigorous that I'm not going to give up on it. I don't expect to see fruit until the autumn from any of my scaled-up sawdust sacks.

Seed starting season is almost upon us! I'm pleased to report that I'm assisting Owen Bridge of Annapolis Seeds at the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings. He has a much expanded inventory this year including many interestingly shaped and coloured tomatoes. He reports that business has accommodated the move of Hope Seeds from New Brunswick to the Annapolis valley quite well, with Hope concentrating more on seed potatoes and in servicing producing farmers, and Annapolis Seeds gearing more toward the urban very-small holder and beautiful and unusual vegetables. I am enjoying the chance to help this very worthy project and to spread the word of open-pollinated and heirloom seeds to the public.

I've also been able to sell European Nightcrawler composting worms over the internet. Response has been greater than I anticipated and I will have to scale up my worm bin before offering any more.


halifaxearthtech: Photo by Joe Shneid of Louisville Kentucky, from Wikimedia Commons (Pattern)
So winter is a slow season, especially for gardeners. But I wanted to show you some updated photos one month on in the process of mushrooming.

The enokitake did in fact sprout mycellium from its stem butt. Stamets tells us that enoki mycellium is supposed to smell awful, and I have not made some horrible mistake. I've given it some more damp cardboard and when that is colonized will move it to sawdust and burlap.





I've moved the oyster culture to a burlap sack filled with unsterilized moist sawdust, in a garbage bag (to preserve moisture), in my basement. The icecream tub-full of mycelliated straw was fibrous and tough to pull apart, and smelled delightfully of almonds. I have high hopes for this one!









No signs of life yet from the burlap-log (a damp burlap sack I filled with a thin layer of mycelliated sawdust and rolled up into a log) but there's plenty of time yet.
halifaxearthtech: Mysore fruit seller (Food)
I hope everybody has had a restful holiday. I know I have. I don't have a whole lot to report this week, except this:



taken from
http://boingboing.net/2011/10/26/the-roots-of-perennial-wheat.html

This is a perennial wheat plant. It is planted once and continues to come up every year and create wheat grains, saving the farmer from the expense and pollution of ploughing and sowing. It requires less pesticide, fertilizer, and seems to be non-proprietary. It was obtained by mating regular wheat with a strain of perennial grass. Converting all our grain production to something that builds this kind of soil mass would go a long way to solving our climate and erosion problems for good.

On the mushroom front, the Enoki doesn't seem to be doing well. There is new white fuzz but it is feeding on the enoki body, not the substrate. The Boletus never did sporulate. However the oyster mycellium recovered from being somewhat dried out and is colonizing the new sawdust with a vengeance, in spite of the fact that we keep our house fairly cool. This is the reason it is a good mushroom for beginners!

Finally, I'm trying out a diet without refined sugar. My body has been undergoing many changes for the better, though it is tough to maintain. It also puts me far ahead in terms of eating locally, and in supporting our honey and maple syrup industries!
halifaxearthtech: Mysore fruit seller (Food)
Today the Way of the Preserver and I finished making the rocket mass heater. We will finish details like deciding where the chimney will go and cobbing elements for after we move it to its semi-final location. Once the larger chamber is filled with insulating wood ash, it will be too heavy to move in a car without removing a lot of messy ash. I'm putting my word in there to have it inside the yurt, when we build one, so we can do some winter camping. Pictures are forthcoming.

Today I bought a King Straphoeria at Pete's Frootique to try to collect spores from it. I've also finished scraping puffball spores for storage in the freezer. Puffballs* are tasty. They're also micorhizal, which means they are symbiotic associates and help the roots of trees collect nutrients. They even pass carbohydrates from trees that have more access to sunlight to trees growing in shadier areas. It turns out most woody plants actually rely on fungal associates (Stamets, 26).




In Mycellium Running, (a book I heartily reccommend) Paul Stamets suggests innoculating young trees in a slurry of water and spores, to help give them a boost in life. If you're lucky, you might even get fruiting mushrooms as well as fruits from your trees! (Stamets, 28). So I will use these spores to do just that at our next Halifax Fruit Tree Planting Day.**



I also bought some Enoki, because I'm feeling adventurous about my mushrooms. To my delight, I found that the stem-butt was still attached to the mushrooms along with some sawdust medium. I've cut that off and am encouraging mycellium to grow on some damp cardboard (As seen in Stamets, 148). When the cardboard is well-colonized, I'll transfer the mycellium to sawdust in a burlap sack. Maybe by the spring I will have more enoki! Maybe not as long-stemmed and little-headed as those coming from a grocery store but I'm sure just as tasty.





*I suppose it still needs to be said: If you take fungi from the wild for eating, be damn sure you have the right one. Fungi can be trickier than edible wild plants, even micologists sometimes make deadly mistakes. I know I've misidentified lots of fungi, and I've been eating wild things for a long time. Puffballs are one of the more distinctive mushrooms out there and harder to misidentify. A good list of foolproof edible mushrooms can be found in Mushrooming without Fear by Alexander Schwab.

**If you're interested in participating in Fruit Tree Planting Day, just contact me and I'll make sure you're on the list and I can get you a tree and price list. We order trees from Charley the Tree Guy and while you pay for the tree and transport costs, our team of volunteers makes sure to plant it properly and give good growing instructions.
halifaxearthtech: Mysore fruit seller (Food)
I'm reading Mycellium Running by Michael Stamets (if you haven't seen Six Ways Mushrooms can Save the World GO! Take a look at it!
What I like about Mycellium Running is that Stamets lists ways to grow mushrooms without the energy cost and finickyness of sterilizing culture, but instead growing mushrooms more like how you would plants, or how they would grow in their woodland habitats: by encouraging growth and then dividing roots and planting them into suitable environments.

In September I was given four bags of hardwood dowels innoculated with edible mushroom spawn from Adam LeBlanc of Margaree Mushrooms in return for some seeds and scion I gave him for his garden. I was instructed to drill holes in hardwood logs, cut between 1 and 6 months before (to allow time for the plant's immune system to die, but before competing fungi could beat off the mushrooms I wanted. I duly innoculated about 6 logs but I guess the environment in my basement was too dry and nothing too much happened.

A week ago I was cleaning out my workshop and found the remaining three bags of spawn. Some mushrooms had managed to burst forth from the plastic bags (I stir-fried them) and the plugs looked quite vital and hardly used up. So I've boiled straw for ten minutes to sterilize it, mixed it with the plugs, and am keeping the straw in paper bags, and then in a plastic food container in my kitchen.



These are they after 5 days. The mycellium is clearly colonizing the straw fast and furiously. From these, I hope to transfer the mycellium to some burlap bags filled with damp woodchips and hopefully harvest mushrooms from these. These bags contain oyster mushrooms.

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