I'm about 2 weeks into growing a wild sourdough culture. The culture was started using Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour and tap water at 100% hydration by weight.
The procedure was started with the intention of producing a culture with the following characteristics:
Resilience of the starter serves two purposes, which are to ease maintenance and increase reliability. Specifically...
1. The starter may be deprived of a consistent feeding schedule and demonstrate vigorous activity upon re-feeding.
2. The starter does not require bottled, filtered, or de-chlorinated water.
3. The starter may utilize a variety of other nutrient sources (white, bleached, unbleached, low protein, high protein flours) while demonstrating acceptable activity levels.
4. The starter will respond favorably to swings in hydration and temperature.
Biodiversity of the culture serves three purposes, which are to ease maintenance, add resilience to the culture, and add flavor to doughs prepared from it.
Biodiversity will be achieved by...
1. Allowing the starter to age.
2. Using "septic technique" (NOT aseptic technique). That is, always utilizing non-sterile instruments during feedings, mixings, and transfers.
My running theory is that I can create a hearty and robust starter that produces depth of flavor by maximizing biodiversity and providing small stresses on the environment (i.e. relaxing the maintenance requirements). Time, and hence age, are critical factors, as microbe lineages that survive chronic stresses would be uniquely adapted to withstand them. It is my impression, based on second-hand accounts, that older cultures do tend to be more robust. This culture is not intended to harbor any particular strain or species of microorganism as doing so would compromise both the biodiversity and resilience of the culture, as well as increase the amount of work I'd have to invest (obviously don't want that).
Perhaps I'm overthinking this, but at least it all sounds reasonable in my head.
Having said that, here are pictures of the starter. I've been using felt marking pens to track the rise and approximate how much food is left. The aroma is complex and alcoholic, especially during active periods after feeding.