Thursday, May 29, 2014

Notes from Paul Stamets' Talk in Philadelphia on May 2nd

Paul Stamets
The Wagner Free Science Institute
2 May 2014

Paul’s Hat
  • Fomes fomentarius (a Hoof Polypore mushroom) aka Tinder mushroom – used to make Amadou (a spongy, flammable substance)
  • Critical to our survival – used to carry fire
  • Boil the Mushroom, it delaminates and is very flamable
  • Hypocrates used as a medicine - A styptic (also spelled stiptic) is a specific type of antihemorrhagic agent that works by contracting tissue to seal injured blood vessels. Styptic pencils containastringents.

“Habitats have immune systems and mycelium is essential to communication.” (Paraphrazed)

Convince timber industry to chop and mulch rather than burn
  • Produces faster growing trees
  • Stores carbon rather than releasing it

Mushroom cultivation variables
  • CO2 exposure determines length of stem
  • Light exposure determines width of the cap

A Human foot covers ~ 300 miles of mycelium (may be inaccurate, I didn’t catch the number)

Small voids between strands of mycelium hold water.  As the voids lose water, micro communities of bacteria grow in the voids and help mushrooms.

Ratio of bacteria cells to human cells in the body:  100 to 1

Epigenesis – the ability to adapt with a network design

Japanese Slime mold experiment – Atsushi Tero et al. 2010
  • Subway design optimization using slime mold

“Pairing with fungi during extinction events increases chances of survival.” (Paraphrazed)

Prototaxites – 30 foot tall giant mushroom that towered over all vegetation on earth in a time when no vegetation reached above ~2 feet.  Fossil of prototaxites was found in Saudi Arabia?  (

Honey Mushroom - Armillaria
  • parasitic, kills trees
  • can create huge swirl patterns in trees

Mycellium is the immune system of the mushroom

Network structure creates resiliency

Enokitake Mushrooms
  • Farmers growing these mushrooms showed significantly lower cancer rates

 Slide taken from Paul's presentation

Lion’s Mane Mushroom - Hericium erinaceus
  • Contain Nerve Growth Factors that promote nerve cell growth
  • Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (Hericium erinaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial.
  • Effects of Hericium erinaceus on amyloid β(25-35) peptide-induced learning and memory deficits in mice.
    • By Mori K1, Obara Y, Moriya T, Inatomi S, Nakahata N.
    • Mice given amyloid plaque causing polypeptide
      • Control mice react to new object, mice with amyloid plaques lose curiosity and problem-solving ability (navigating a maze)
      • After ~21 days eating Lion’s Mane, the mice regained curiosity and maze-solving ability

Shiitake - Lentinula edodes
  • Drying shiitake produces Vitamin D in mushroom
  • UVB exposure skyrockets Vitamin D
  • Dried Shiitake can produce Vitamin D and store it for years
    • Control: 40 IU/mg
    • Sunlight 10 hours: 46000 IU/mg
    • UVB 14 hours: 267000 IU/mg
Stropharia - Wine Cap Mushroom - Garden Giant Mushroom

Mycoremediation of oil spills
  • Hemp bags, filled with grasses, fermented in salt water will grow mushrooms
    • Used to corral oil slicks and break down hydrocarbons

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) – Dangerous to environment when harvested commercially

Stamets model for permaculture – in “Growing Gourmet” book by Paul stamets

Agarikon - Laricifomes officinalis - endorheic mycorrhizal fungi - Nicknamed “elixir of life”
  • Contains compounds effective against various flu/pox virus strains
  • Doesn’t Rot, rather petrifies the supporting tree branch with calcium oxalate
  • Anti-tuberculosis / anti-microbial properties
  • Google: “Small Pox Stamets”

73% of Anti-cancer drugs come from natural sources

Worst Cancer – Merkel Cell Carcinoma
  • “Nghiem Hypothesis”  - Dr. Paul Nghiem MD, PhD

Turkey Tail Mushroom (Trametes versicolor)
  • Effective in studies against Breast Cancer
  • Seem to de-cloak tumor cells from the body’s immune system

Friday, May 9, 2014

Herb Spiral Project in Delaware

Before and after the most recent work day.

I've been working on building an herb spiral in my parents yard in Delaware. It's just about finished.

An herb spiral is a permaculture design that allows you to grow up to 16 different herbs all requiring different conditions, from watercress and mint to rosemary and oregano. The design channels water from the top of the garden to the small pond at the bottom.  The structure creates microclimates through variation in sunlight and soil moisture. We'll place plants at the top that need less water, and plants at the bottom (near the pond) that need more water. The north side will have shade-loving herbs and the south side will have herbs that need more light. The idea is to grow a wide variety of herbs that will be available for the kitchen.

It's a good idea to place an herb spiral close to the kitchen. That way, if you're cooking dinner, you can easily cut fresh herbs for your recipes.

If you want to learn more, or build your own, detailed instructions can be found here:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

NIWA - Smartphone Control of your Hydroponic Garden

I recently learned about a new product concept for an indoor hydroponic garden that looks like it has potential.

NIWA ( is a pretty slick looking 5 liter recirculating hydroponic system with lights and automation controlled from your smartphone.

Compared to the Aquafarm from Back to the Roots, this looks like a more serious food production system. The Aquafarm is a nice, compact system that can grow some herbs and is a good introduction to aquaponic gardening, the NIWA looks to be able to produce some serious food, and I suspect the price will reflect this increase in performance. NIWA claims to be able to grow tomatoes, strawberries, orchids, or medical plants.

I've been in contact with Aga, one of the founders of NIWA, and asked about integration with a fish tank for an aquaponic system. While they haven't yet worked with any aquaponic experts to determine what would need to be done to the system to integrate aquaponics, they will be offering a maker-kit on the kickstarter which will include the electronics and gear inside with instructions to build the system on your own. I can imagine this could be used to hack an aquaponic version.

Some of my favorite features:

Automatic nutrient and irrigation adjustment for different plants. You don't have to do additional research, just tell NIWA what you're growing, and the nutrients and irrigation cycles are adjusted to optimize growth. Or, if you want to experiment, you can manually adjust the settings.

Automatic heating, ventilation, humidity, and lighting control. NIWA claims to monitor climate. In the system and automatically adjusts for optimal growth. If there is enough light in the room, the lights will be off.  If the room isn't bright enough, NIWA will sense this and turn on the grow lights.

Cloud connectivity let's you monitor and adjust the system from anywhere with an internet connection.

NIWA is getting ready to launch their kickstarter campaign on Monday, May 12, 2014.

The kicstarter prices are not too bad.  I don't know if it'll fit into my budget, but I definitely want to try this thing out!