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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey!
Brand new here and hoping the community here can more precisely answer my issue rather than the peanut gallery of mixed results google gives.

So,
I'm working on a project that is a basically primitive frame made out of (probably pine ) square .5 x .5 inch square dowels.
Planning on wrapping the whole thing in 6 mil plastic and introducing humidity. basically, this will be a mini-greenhouse kind of thing for very tropical plants
about 1 square foot or so.

So essentially the wood will be exposed to a very high degree of humidity at 65 - 85 f
a great breeding ground for mold :(

I'm thinking of solutions that would work to prevent this.

I need a natural treatment since these will be edible plants.
main question is.

a couple of thoughts =
  • coating the wooden frame with epoxy resin ( my preferred plan - pretty sure it will keep 99% of the moisture out - but will it mold from the inside out )
  • lightly torching / burning the pieces with a propane torch
  • using a natural stain or oil if that would be effective long term?

- other proven ideas that I may be unaware of?
soaking pieces in bleach or vinegar, tea-tree oil, Oregano?

thanks!
 

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Under those conditions, I believe I would search for some plastic or fiberglass product. However, most any surface can support mold and mildew (think bathroom surfaces). What ever you use, I think you will need to treat it periodically, but smooth non-porous surfaces would be easiest to maintain.
 

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I think you may be in the wrong forum: preventing mold on wood to cultivate organic food is not our forte'.
you need to look into what you are doing = raising tropical plants organically for food.
raising mushrooms, hydroponics, tropical food gardening, things like that.
in this forum, we do not connect woodworking projects with what you are wanting to do.
 

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Egg Spurt
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White vinegar and dawn dishwashing liquid..takes it off bathroom walls pretty quickly anyway.. That's all I got..
 

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here is how I see "the rub" - - - -
apply something to the plastic wrap that retards mold but will sustain edible plant growth ??
 

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What you're basically asking for is some way to prevent mold in a mold breeding ground, but the thing about many plants is they can often survive and thrive in this exact environment just fine. I live in South Carolina on a lake where mold grows all over the place and there is no shortage of green things growing and doing just great. It grows so much in fact that I can't keep up with cutting all the growing stuff down fast enough and I ain't going to get even 1 millisecond younger till the moment I die and even then I'm still not gonna get younger..The plants will still keep growing though..
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Hey all,
sincere thanks to all the feedback and replies.
I guess I left a bit of the details of the project vague.

here's a primitive model to give you the idea of scale and look...
427058



basically, it's that framework that will be wrapped in a 6 mil plastic. it will most likely be held together with zip ties.
It will house and hang a mushroom block, gourmet mushrooms typically grow at room temps but need moisture.
I will most likely be producing a large amount if successful.

some of the qualifications:

#1 price - needs to be only a few dollars of building materials to produce.
this may be the biggest restriction. I've love to use aluminum tube, garden stakes, or other non-organic material that wouldn't mold. after exhaustive searches on Amazon, Grainger etc. I haven't found a lower cost solution.

#2 strength - the structures will be hung from the ceiling or alternatively set on a table with a 4lb mushroom block hanging from the top... I've found some materials are cheap enough, but not strong enough for the job. After the 200% + increase on wood during covid, simple 2x4's are almost too expensive :( .. I digress.. so ripping 1/2 inch square dowels from 2x4's then giving them a light coat of epoxy seems to be my best plan of attack and I think will be strong enough, unless anyone has some other ideas or tells me I'm crazy and the mold will be impossible to prevent.

I also have considered hanging the plastic on the inside of the structures and this would prevent moisture on the wood but this would be a pain in the ass in many aesthetic and logistic ways.

.. and if you got this far - what do you think about Cedar and the natural fungal resistance properties? not sure it would be worth it here where I need a mold-proof ( not resistant ) application, I think it falls outside of my price parameters anyway.
 

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you may be over thinking this a little.
just use the dowels that you have for a few prototypes
and make your educated decisions from there.
I've seen those pine wood dowels in some pretty wet stuff and I've never noticed mold on them.
run your prototypes with bare wood.
adding epoxy and other stuff may create unwanted issues. and cedar "could" kill your mushrooms.
how do you know the wood dowels will attract mold in your particular setup ?? have you tried it yet ?
make your prototypes: experiment with wipe on finishes like a water borne polyurethane & oil based, etc.
do some experimenting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
you may be over thinking this a little.
just use the dowels that you have for a few prototypes
and make your educated decisions from there.
I've seen those pine wood dowels in some pretty wet stuff and I've never noticed mold on them.
run your prototypes with bare wood.
adding epoxy and other stuff may create unwanted issues. and cedar "could" kill your mushrooms.
how do you know the wood dowels will attract mold in your particular setup ?? have you tried it yet ?
make your prototypes: experiment with wipe on finishes like a water borne polyurethane & oil based, etc.
do some experimenting.
Great advice John. I really appreciate the feedback and time :)

a few issues - the dowels I need for the 6 I would need for each side would be too expensive.
also, they are only around 1/4 inch, so I don't think they would hold up to the strength of hanging a 4 lb block.
The whole thing including plastic needs to be a few dollars.

You may be correct, in fact, that treating the wood may be overkill and unnecessary.
I'd like to experiment with soaking in bleach, tea tree oil, oregano, etc. and watch the effects over months 🤔 ,
but since the plan is to go into production and other people in humid places may have different unforeseen mold issues
I guess just looking for something a little overbuilt and foolproof.
 

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make one of your testing finishes to be 100% pure, raw bees wax.
carefully heat it to the liquid form and soak the dowel in it.
scrape off excess wax to be re-used and add waxed dowels to your test box.
(google bees wax to see what all it can do - and can't do)
 

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Define "a few dollars", because something like what youre wanting could be done with 1/4" aluminium round bar and itd probably end up cheaper than wood. Check local supply houses for metal prices, online stores tend to mark up prices by a few hundred percent. To illustrate, i bought a bar of 1.5x.5 steel 4 feet long earlier today for $10 from my local place, wouldve been nearly 4 times as much through McMaster. Given that 1/4" aluminium round is only about $2 per foot on McMaster, i think you can imagine the price at a local place

Organics rot, metals dont. If youre wanting something to stand up to an extremely humid environment where youll be intentionally growing fungus, wood is the wrong choice
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
thanks epicfail48 !

a few dollars =
6 15" sides per shape
pine 2x4 = around $5 - $10
will rip into 108 1/2" square 15" dowels... a lot of chopping :oops:!!

that will produce 18 sets of 6 -
per set price = .25 to .50 cents ( pretty impossible to beat with any other material )
all the plastic, epoxy, wire, zip ties would bring it up to around $2-$4

It seems the local Urban places where I live seem to jack up the prices on
pretty much everything - big box like Home Depot + chain stores. No true mom-and-pop stores.

You're probably right, but just thinking if the wood is completely sealed - maybe fungus couldn't set in
 

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Go down to your local grow store, get some grow trays with humidity domes. The domes have vents so you can control humidity. Maybe $3-4 for tray, $5-6 for dome. You can easily sanitize it between uses. Plastic won’t mold.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Go down to your local grow store, get some grow trays with humidity domes. The domes have vents so you can control humidity. Maybe $3-4 for tray, $5-6 for dome. You can easily sanitize it between uses. Plastic won’t mold.
nice thinking as an option Terry, thanks - I'll check it out :)
 

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You're probably right, but just thinking if the wood is completely sealed - maybe fungus couldn't set in
Theres no such thing as completely sealed wood. Eventually, something will breach the finish, its just a question of how long it takes. Also worth remembering that while you might be able to keep the wood from rotting, that wont stop anything from growing on it, mold can grow pretty much anywhere. Another advantage to aluminium is cleaning it would be as simple as wiping it down with bleach. Price wise, if aluminium round is $2 a foot, puts you at $15. Whitewood 2x4s are $7.25 at my local big boxes, so technically cheaper, but once you factor in the price of the time it takes to rip to the right size, additional products to keep rot at bay, etc, i maintain the aluminium comes out ahead.

Actually, before anybody tries to be a ****, yes, you could completely seal a piece of wood by casting it in a giant block of epoxy or something, but at that point you dont have sealed wood, you have contaminated epoxy. Itd be easier just to start with a plastic piece from the start
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If it were me i wood use split bamboo, light,strong and cheap check in the garden shops you may need to split your own.
Nice! Bamboo shoots were a candidate on my list. Not sure how "really" antifungal they are but they seem to meet most of the other requirements. Going to take a run around town today to check availability.
Thanks!
 

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I think the mold problem could be slowed down some by air circulation.
Maybe wrap the plastic an inch or so up from the floor/base and leave the top with an opening. This may help increase air flow and reduce mold
 

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Tony - the "issue" is that he wants to actually grow mold (mushrooms) inside this little tent.
and - try to thwart out "unwanted" mold.
I've been watching to see the end project and how it all turns out.
 

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Thanks for the clarification John.
In the distant past I have only grown weed and not mushrooms. I was more of a bright light and fresh air guy. LOL
 
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