Shrooming in weird places

An interesting little experiment is afoot. Well little might be an understatement but you’ve got to try these things now and again.

tubes

We’ve had a lot of cardboard tubes delivered from a local carpet recycling business, more than we actually have ideas to use them up. So plan B comes into effect.

One of the first things I’ve thought of is to chop them up, a travesty I’m sure, and soak them back down into pulp. Once we have that we can make them into fuel logs and briquettes to help provide heat for the buildings over the winter.

tubes-3

But in the interest of generating a revenue from what others through away there’s nothing to stop us inoculating that pulp with mushroom spawn and stuffing it into some of the tubes turning them into little mycelium powerhouses.

Cardboard is essentially finely chopped up trees in the form of cellulose and if there’s one thing mycelium (the actual root network that fruits the mushrooms we all know so well) does well is break down and consume the molecule lignin that makes up cellulose.

It does this by breaking the long chain carbohydrate into shorter chain carbohydrate. Or sugar as we call it.

fungal_mycelia_-3

I’ll go into more detail about soil ecology in a later post but to suffice to say, we will have a source of heat, a soil building activity and mushrooms with both health and culinary use.

Not bad from someone else’s unwanted stuff….

Why pay for sickly @redbull when you can get delicious #SilverBirch for #FREE

It’ll soon be that time of year when the sap begins to rise… both metaphorically and actually. Spring is when we begin to feel rejuvenated after the grey days of winter. Luckily for us there’s a natural energy drink which becomes freely available just when we need it the most (and which doesn’t rely on a bombardment of crappy advertising). Filled with sugars, amino acids, proteins and enzymes, Birch Sap is guaranteed to deliver a Usain-Bolt-paced-energy-jolt to tiring bodies. 😉

Birch Sap is also so delicious that it is sold commercially in some countries, and because it can only be collected during an average period of 1 month in every year and is highly perishable, it can demand a very high price indeed (even higher than that overpriced Red Bull stuff) – in Japan it has sold for as much as €50 per litre!

Any prepper, bush-craft enthusiast or forager worth their salt will find the idea of paying such a high price for Birch Sap a little crazy, because we know how easy it is to obtain…

A cut branch will provide a good drink, but we wouldn’t recommend this technique. It’s much better for the tree, and more ethical for the forager, to learn how to properly drill a tree to leave it in good repair. With this in mind the ever wonderful A-Z Bushcraft & Srvival Skills  have produced this informative, Creative Commons licensed video…

The video recently featured on Permculture Magazine‘s website, where they also included the following recipe taken from Ben Law’s book The Woodland Year:

Ben Law’s Birch Sap Wine

Ingredients

1 gallon of birch sap

2 lemons

1/2 lb (454g) raisins

2 lbs sugar or 2 pints of honey

yeast

Method

Squeeze lemons. Add a little grated zest to the birch sap and boil for 20 minutes. Pour sap on to sugar or honey and raisins. Stir until the sugar or honey is dissolved. When lukewarm add yeast, cover with a cloth and leave in the fermenting bin until fermentation has slowed down. Then strain into a demijohn. Top up with water as necessary and fit an air lock. Should be ready to drink by late summer.

Special Offer direct from the publishers: save 25% on The Woodland Year and get it p&p free (in the UK). RRP £19.95. Discounted price £14.96. Offer lasts until March 31st 2012.

The real source of consumerism…

It’s easier to learn to do without some of the things that money can buy than to earn the money to buy them.” ~ Dolly Freed

It isn’t that we buy stuff. Or that that there’s stuff to buy.

No the answer is both simple and complex, though the question is being asked more and more since the protests such as those outside Wall Street and St Paul’s continue to rise and fall in the media spotlight.

We recognise the legitimacy of this process, however to the average person in the street can still seem like a pointless thing; both the protest and what people are protesting about. It’s all very well to say capitalism and consumerism is wrong, but where did that tent come from? Where did your food or sleeping bag come from? They can’t see a way of replacing the current financial system and still have the lifestyle they are accustomed to.

And that’s the root of the problem. Lifestyles.

People no longer want to think for themselves. People no longer want to learn new skills. The Renaissance man is dead. It has become easier to buy a product to solve a problem than it is to learn to solve the problem outright. For example rather than have a set of rods to clean a drain just buy drain unblocker, rather than walk or bike to work buy a car and then pay someone to fix it.

And so we end up with house’s full of stuff we don’t need and then we complain we no longer have room and so buy a bigger house to fill with more stuff. And end up deeper in debt. Debt is indeed, as Jack Spirko says, a cancer.

So learn to do more with less. Learn to cook, concentrating more on techniques rather than recipes. Move to a smaller house closer to work and walk or bike there. Or, and this isn’t easy these days, move your job closer to home. Commit to learning a new skill each month. As a bush-crafter and martial artist I can assure you this technique works. Each year the boss over in Japan sets a theme for the year, in bush-craft terms I set my self a goal to learn a new plant each month, learn a new weaving pattern or use one plant only, till all its uses have been explored.

This month now the nights are drawing in I’m learning to knit (might not fit with everyone’s image of a martial artist, but I for one would rather be warm and active than macho and hypothermic).

So that’s the answer to consumerism. Learn to do more with less, learn to improvise. And whilst it might cost more to learn to sew than going to Primark, in the long run it does work out cheaper once you have a stock of material.

Learn the value of time. Learn the value of the Renaissance man.

Let’s see if we can bring him back from the dead.

Calling all writers, preppers, artists, permaculturalists, survivalists and appropriate techies!

The PermaFuture crew are currently working on an exciting new project and we’d like YOU to get involved…

OTF (Own Two Feet) Magazine will be a completely DIY/grassroots publication created using solely upcycled ‘end-of-use’ (i.e. scrap) equipment and Free Open Source Software (FOSS) applications. As with all PermaFuture projects we want to show that both the resources and the skills needed to create something new and exciting already exist within each and every one of our communities; all that really needs to change is our attitudes towards creativity, technology and blind consumption.

OTF will be a magazine about resilience, self-reliance and self-sustainability. As with the larger PermaFuture project, it will draw on the principles of Permaculture, Bushcraft, Martial Arts and Appropriate Technology in order to encourage the development of healthier, happier, more creative and thriftier individuals, families and communities. The emphasis will be very much on the practical, with each issue offering tips and detailed plans which can help people meet everyday needs, get fit, save money and/or become less dependent. We also intend to include philosophical, inspirational and lifestyle stories along with artworks, photographs, cartoons and letters.

As we’ve already mentioned this is a grassroots project which currently has zero budget, so we can’t offer payment or prizes. But we do believe that this is an exiting opportunity for writers, artists, cartoonists, permaculturalists, survivalists, appropriate technologists, preppers and planners to get involved with a brand new magazine… and who knows, if things go well we might even be able to pay people one day 😉

If you’d like to submit something for the first issue of OTF – or if you’d like to subscribe or make a donation to help get us started (offers of finance and/or equipment will be warmly welcomed!)  – then email us via editorial[at]permafuture[dot]org or leave a comment below.

The deadline for the 1st issue is November 18th, 2011.

Advertising inquiries to advertising[at]permafuture[dot]org