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Jim Patalano

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since May 26, 2016
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Recent posts by Jim Patalano

Excellent and very helpful replies so far. Implementing these ideas will take months. I'm up to the challenge
2 years ago
I have plenty of time to kill... I can hang around somewhere and get to know it... I just don't have a home base in the area to start with. And have many places to choose from.
2 years ago
Great firs response from Dave, who basically (if I read you right) recommends just trying to meet people in general, such as through local volunteering, especially if you can show people you're a hard worker in the process (such as with volunteering).

But I have a feeling there are specific places and people to visit to find non-advertised rural job. How do ranch hands get hooked up with their jobs, for example? Surely not through the internet (most of the time).

Also Dave, your methods require hunkering down in one community and looking for connections. I don't want to be limited in that way to a single community or area right now; i want to leverage my advantage seeing that

-A, I already have a home community for social occupation (the urban area where I live)
-B, I currently have access to a car, which is rare, and I can take it all around the local countryside in like 7 hours in any direction from home
-C, I have the privilege of flexibility

So I'll rephrase the question. Imagine you can drive around a huge rural area for many days, see many towns, visit whatever regional sources you need to. How do you hook up with legit farmers who might need a hand - someone who is cheap, smart, engaging, hardworking, has a car, and can start now? How do you do this over the winter? NOT LIMITED TO ORGANIC/PERMACULTURE FARMS, how do I find a simple job even on a big-ag farm or big conventional nursery or garden center or something?

Do I head to the local bar & grill and chat up anyone I see with a pickup truck? hahah how do I do this. I'm FROM OUT OF TOWN... that's the point. How do I do this specifically as an out-of-towner. Even just find somone who needs apples picked for a week and pays under the table. Surely there's a way in for outsiders.

Just plain and simple experience in running a business.


2 years ago
Hello, permies community, perhaps your collective wisdom and experience can assist me today.

I am a young person who has been socialized to rely on institutions to find me employment for most of my life. The common-sense idea in my upper-middle-class family is that whatever career you want, first you go to university and get a degree in it, then you find a prestigious internship, bla bla bla... all pretty useless for someone who wishes to learn how to actually DO something that someone will pay you for without checking your degree first (such as growing valuable food and timber).

I have lived enough outside the reality-tunnel that I was born into, to realize that the really good jobs out there are not found by applying online. I am looking for real-world experience in real-world rural ecnomies. I want to know how business is really done in enterprises like farms, and nurseries. More than happy to be the guy counting crates of produce all day in the warehouse, or the guy out laying irrigation, or whatever. Just as long as its a real business and I can gain some experience. I have a part-time online job in the evenings to take care of a lot of my income (SAT tutoring), so low pay is not an issue. What I do need is a high-quality job. The kind of job that I can do for a year or a season and be working outdoors and learning how business gets taken care of in rural economies.

My question for you all today is, am I correct in thinking that the internet is a very poor substitute for going to the right places and meeting the right people in real life? How can I quickly find a job like that. I've been considering spending some days going to the local Home Depot to find day-labor landscaping jobs, just to get started and talking to people... but I know thats probably mostly a waste of time too. I can think of all the obvious online solutions, like WWOOF and craigslist and agriculture-related job boards. But my gut says what you see on there is a small fraction of the opportunities out there. Remember an opportunity for me doesn't have to pay a lot, just offer a way to quickly gain experience in the real world.

Obviously my plan is to use that experience in the future to do real world stuff that is much more permaculture and planet-friendly than the business I'm looking to work for right now, which will be more conventional. Like in jazz music, I feel I need to learn the rules before I can break them.

I'm not looking for specific opportunities, but rather strategic advice from those with more first-hand knowledge of the rural job field. Organic type stuff is nice, but it has to be "real" - actually turning a profit by selling regular commodities on the regular market. And I really don't care what my role is. I'm sure I'm smart and strong enough to learn to do anything if given the chance.

As you can see I'm a little fuzzy on what field would be the best for me to experience working in. So I would also appreciate any advice you might have to the tune of where my time could best (and worst) be spent trying to learn something useful. If you think I shouldn't consider landscaping jobs (or whatever) because I won't learn anything useful, I want to know.

By the way, I am currently limited to looking in the mid-Atlantic and New England, especially upstate NY, Pennsylvania and Western MA. I can stretch that radius a little if the opportunity is really perfect.

So permies, I thank you in advance for you most clever and creative solutions!
2 years ago
Edible & Medicinal Mushrooms - The New Vaults - Deep Knowledge - Mycotopia

Check out the above links for a large archive of free online material relating to the amatuer cultivation of mushrooms. Grow logs, teks, Q&As, pictures and more.
3 years ago
It might be sap (idk the least thing about whether and how sap discolors wood after being cut), but let me say this...

If you cut the log two weeks ago, it is probably not a viable substrate for mushroom cultivation AS IT CURRENTLY IS. Once you cut the log, exposing some of the wood beneath the bark, it becomes open season on the wood for any mushroom spores that land on it. Since mushroom spores are constantly present in the air, chances are high that after two weeks have passed, some contaminant species probably has alteady begun to colonize the wood.

What I would consider doing if I were you would be chipping the wood and pasteurizing it. This will allow you to start with a clean slate and you can innoculate the woodchips with some grain or wood spawn of your chosen species.

Leaving visual appearance to one side (someone else with more experience can speak to that), theoretically you have little chance of success innoculating a whole log if the log has been sitting around for two weeks being cut. Its for the same reason you wouldn't use hydrated straw that had been sitting around for 2 weeks (you would have to pasterurize it first).
3 years ago
By the way I managed to get this question answered on a different forum (a mushroom forum). The answer is basically once you have fully colonized, contam-free grain spawn, of a woodloving species, you can use that grain spawn to directly innoculate pasteurized hardwood chips (not too big). Spawn ratio can be fairly low, Stamets says as low as 1:25 ough I wouldn't take that risk myself.

Highly recommend that anyone who wants a massive amount of information on the many different ways woodloving mushrooms can be grown, google "Communal Woodlover Grow Log" to find the relevant thread on another forum.
3 years ago
Any reason to think it isn't the mycelium? A white "gel like substance" with "fuzzy stuff in the middle" certainly sounds pretty typical of mycelium. Did you innoculate these recently or is this an older jar?

The floating on the surface of the water is a bit weird but doesn't tell me anything per se. Could easily be the mycelium you are trying to grow.

Another compounding factor here -- LC contaminants, in general, don't visibly look different than healthy mycelium. In other words, generally with LCs its difficult to tell if you have a success or a contamination just by looking at it. Everything pretty much looks like a fuzzy white cloud.

My recommendation is to let it sit and see what happens. Definitely DONT open the jar and try to get it out-- unless you have a HEPA flow hood and really good sterile technique. That's a surefire way to contaminate it.

One thing you should do, either right now, or after letting it sit for a few days to get more growth, is to suck that LC up into a syringe and inject it into a test jar of spawn. Homemade LCs can't be verified as clean until the culture is grown out on agar or grain, so its generally recommended to do a single test jar in this manner before doing a massive amount of innoculation. In any case, testing your LC on some grain spawn will tell you a lot more about whats going on.

Make sure not to contaminate the jar when you use the LC-- you have an injection port on that lid, right? If you jave a hole-with-tape instead of an injection port than I would recommend building a still air box for doing that.
3 years ago

John Saltveit wrote: My experience is that there is one large group who primarily uses sterilization with grains and bags, and a different group that usually uses pasteurization or wood dowels. I think that they usually don't communicate that much with each other, but maybe you can be a leader in that.

I perceive essentially the same thing, two groups whose methods are rarely compared or integrated. Indeed I joined this site in large part with the idea to bridge the gap. Permies love mushrooms but I dont see people drawing on the huge wealth of knowledge developed in years past by nonpermie amateur  mycologists.

Just nitpicking, but "my side" (the grains/bags side altho jars are still more popular than bags) uses pasteurization a lot, too. Bulk substrates need to be pasteurized, full sterilization is a mistake and will lead to contamination. This is different from the production of spawn, which requires total sterility especially if starting with spores.

Anyway, how are wood dowels done? Are they innoculated directly with LC or would the liquid create contamination vector?

The method I'm thinking is esentially spores>LC>sterilized grains(using lots of LC for fast colonization)>sterilized wood>bulk pasteurized wood.

Its a lot of steps, and id like to hear from more experienced woodloving-mushroom growers. Is LC>wood something people do regularly, for example? that would let me cut out the grains step. aMybe cardboard is typically used, something like LC>cardboard>bulk wood?

Also what im realy looking for here is to get a sense of the different options. And the theory behind each one. I could write a book about this subject when it comes to grain-lovers, but I dont know much about woodlovers.
3 years ago
Casey, I reread this thread and I see you were talking about straw as a final substrate for grain spawn, from the get-go. Now I look silly.

Casey, would you mind providing a bite-size picture of the cold-fermented-straw concept? This is entirely new to me, I always thought straw and all other substrates needed to be at least pasteurized. very intriguing, thanks a lot!
3 years ago