Straw Tek Tips

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By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Friday, August 03, 2001 - 08:19 pm:

Or a fancy name for some straw tek tips. This one is a Worm Casting Spawn Extender Tek for Straw

WORM CASTINGS!!!  If you have not messed with them... I encourage you to read on...

Get a bag of worm castings. Pile some of it in a roasting pan, pop it in the oven at 350*F for two hours. It does not smell hardly at all, and even then only for the first 15-20 minutes. Easiest pounds of sterilized substrate I have ever made...

Birth your cakes, break them into small pieces and place them in your grinder (food processor is great). Add 1/2 cup dry sterilized worm castings to about 1/3 of a crumbled PF cake and blend well.

This makes a nice dry, sterile, spawn extender. You end up with 2 to 2-1/2 cups of spawn powder per cake. The cakes don't gum up, you end up with a slightly damp powder... You can increase or decrease the amount of dry worm castings, and compensate for cakes with varying moisture levels... It is sweet..

You don't need additives to the straw if you are using worm castings. If you do use additives, cut the amount in half. I add one tablespoon of blood meal to 7 gallons of soak water when processing straw, then I exchange the soak water for fresh, pasteurize, drain, and spawn.

I hate to leave the straw sit and drain for a day or two to obtain the perfect moisture content for spawning. To compensate I cut down on my soak times to 12 hours... And I add dry worm castings...

Spawn with the worm casting powder while turning your straw. Because of the dark color you can easily see clumps of straw that have not been properly spawned. Once everything is coated, you next adjust the mositure.

Straw beds should be very damp wet, but not soaking. No surface water should remain on the straw or the sides, especially the bottom, of the container. Adding water is easy... getting rid of the extra is not...

Add dry sterile worm castings (and "dry" spawn too if you can spare the jars) and toss the straw until the moisture level is perfect, and all surface water is absorbed. You should be able to squeeze a wad in your fist and feel water, but none should drip out.

Try spawning with this tek and I think you will become a believer like I did. Them worm castings are like black gold to shroomers.


Also See: Cultivation of Pans

By Kaijan (Kaijan) on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 02:36 pm:

great tips nan..

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 05:03 pm:

I tell you this technique got me over the hump with straw. I am casing in 72 hours, the beds are healthier... Spawning wet straw with this dry spawn liquifies the worm castings and coats the straw. I toss the "salad" well, then add sufficient dry sterilized worm castings to soak up any remaining liquid, then dust off with about 1/2 cup of dry spawn as I am packing the bed down.

When the spawn recovers in 24-48 hours, the entire bed simply goes white (as long as things are not too wet, or too hot: excess moisture and/or additives will slow things down and invite contams).

The mycellia does not "run" the bed with this tek, the bed just "turns". It happens so fast and throughly there is no time for contams to even think about getting started. No hidden pockets for rot to get started, no cobweb, no waiting... Just dense white mycellia ready for a casing in three days... And it seems to work every time. I bet it would work great on Timothy hay and other problematic "green" substrates as well.


By kta on Saturday, August 04, 2001 - 11:01 pm:

sounds sweet nook im going to try beds soon, i just got done cleaning up my ter. allready got some straw cut up and ready so wish me luck.

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 02:43 am:


There are a couple of tricks with straw tek: moisture control and sanitizing.

I covered basic moisture control in the worm casting spawn extender, now we go on to cover sanitizing� Then I will hopefully post a straw tek variant of my own that is working extremely well so far� We will see, cleanliness before godliness or somewhat�

What are you wiping with when you are cleaning? What are you using to dry your hands with before and during clean work? Are you using gloves? When? How do you clean plastic surfaces in order to �sanitize� them?

If your straw beds are failing, and you are spawning with the correct moisture level in the straw, then you must be dirty somewhere. Clean it up�

Rags: You need lots of rags, really clean rags. And some pillowcases. Collect or buy secondhand, but get a decent bag of clean rags together and wash them in Hot Hot Hot water with unscented detergent and liquid bleach. Dry in a clean dryer, transfer them with clean hands into a clean plastic bag. Rags for glovebox use can be bagged up in an oven bag or wrapped in foil and sterilized in the pc for 45 min after washing.

The cheapest and simplest sanitizing solution is one part Clorox in nine parts water. On plastic, this solution beads up and does not sanitize without a wetting agent. Add ½ teasp of liquid dish soap to one litre of Clorox solution and wash plastic down with a soft cloth. Buy new plastic containers for straw tek. NEVER/EVER, use anything scratchy or abrasive to wash and sanitize plastic! Scratches in plastic instantly fill with contams that are impossible to remove or sanitize. The surface must be new, and kept in smooth, as new condition, in order to sanitize properly.

This is what you do: mix up a litre of 10% Clorox with Wetting Agent (Add ½ teasp of liquid dish soap to one litre of Clorox solution) and pour it into the plastic bin. I mix it a little strong with Clorox (15%) if the bottoms are really cruddy. Wear rubber gloves (and a filter mask if spores are present), and scrub out well with a clean soft rag� Rinse. If the bin was really cruddy, toss the rag into the �used� bag to be rewashed. Mix up a fresh batch of 10% Clorox sol. without a wetting agent. Wipe down a chair back with it using a clean rag. As the chair back is drying, rinse and wipe the bin with the fresh Clorox solution. Get the inside first, then outside with a clean rag. Lids can usually be wiped down here too unless they are cruddy and need soap. Place the bin upside down on the clean chair back to drip dry. When you are ready to spawn, wipe down the inside of the bin with a clean rag soaked in rubbing alcohol, then wipe a chair back and hang upside down to dry, spawn immediately�

Rubber gloves� Keep a couple of Playtex gloves on hand and wear them. They will protect your hands from the strong sanitizer, and they are clean. Wear gloves when you spawn. Rinse gloved hands with alcohol, or spray with Lysol, rub them together and wipe on an alcohol soaked rag. You are damned clean. Beware of fire risk, always keep a bucket of water on hand when working with alcohol and flame of any type. I keep the two separated.

Oh, another tip� Pour one cup bleach into the dishwasher during the soap cycle. All dishes coming out of a properly functioning dishwasher run at 180* with Clorox are sanitized. Also, go down to the sporting goods section at Wally Mart and buy a box of gun cleaning patches for 12 guage shotguns� Makes great alcohol swabs, just pour some isopropyl in a small bowl and toss in a dozen or so shotgun patches. Cover with a saucer.

Counters and work surfaces should be sanitized where you are grinding cakes, and especially the grinder.

Next up� More straw tek tips�

Clean Rooms : Sanitizing : Straw Tek

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Monday, August 13, 2001 - 03:05 am:

Sterile Straw Tek

OK, people complain that straw tek is difficult, prone to failure for beginners, and that there are no specific instructions or way to measure� Read on, this tek is the bomb.

I used a 16 pint pressure cooker. I stuff it with straw, standing in it to compress as much straw in as possible and fill it to within 1 inch of the top. Fill the pressure cooker to the �max fill� line, or just below 2/3 full of water, and bring to 15 lbs steam for 45 minutes. Let cool to room temp.

Remove the weights (if present), loosen the seal, and tip the pressure cooker up in a large sink. You want to drain out the remaining liquid without exposing the straw to contams� Let drain for about an hour. The straw is not exposed, and will remain nearly sterile until the lid is opened.

Wearing sanitized gloves, open the lid and pull straw into sanitized tubs. Work quickly and efficiently, anything that falls out, or partway out, of the bin should be discarded on the floor. Do not allow the straw to contact anything that is not sanitized. Work in a still clean room. And for heavens sake take a shower before you get messy�

Spawn with the spawn tek previously posted. Reserve some spawn to dust off the top of the straw. Pack the spawned straw well, compress it well, and I tuck the straw bed in all along the walls. It should have a dome shape. Dust off with reserved spawn.

Then sprinkle the top of the spawned straw with about ½ inch of dry sterilized 50/50 casing mix. Sprinkle casing heavier along the side walls, you want the bed to end up level, with enough casing on the top of the �dome� to just fill and cover open holes going down into the straw bed. More important, the walls of the bin have a nice layer of dry casing, about an inch, to soak up drippage. By covering the top of the spawned straw with casing you provide a dry barrier layer to catch contams before they can drift deep into the bed. It also provides moisture control: drip water from the sides and lid will not wet tender mycelia and spawn, which kills it, whereupon contams set in.. A thin, dry, casing layer will seal the bed and prevent water damage until the spawn run is complete. I put a couple of plates in my pc (one inverted), mix up casing mix in a clean pillowcase, sterilize in the pc at 15 lbs. for 45 min, and dump the cooled, dry steam sterilized casing into a brand new plastic trash bag for storage. Tie it off well.

Anyway, lay a lid on the bin just slightly ajar and let it sit for 72 hours at 87 degrees, 80% humidty� Or the best you can do.

Mist the casing slightly after a couple of days if it still appears dry. Mycellia will begin to colonize the casing at the same time it is running the straw bed. After 3-4 days add another inch of casing to the bed�Sooner if mycellia is poking up and exposing itself. Only this time, restore the dome shape of the underlying straw bed, you want an even 1-1/2 inches of casing across the entire top. Make sure it is dampened down well. Fan and mist as required.

I am using a cloned PF strain, an aggressive colonizer and an early fruiter on straw. In general PF has not been too great on straw, but once in awhile one will pop out of a straw bed that just beats shit. Follow the 9er Tek guys, grind a tissue sample from one of those badassed fatassed shrooms and shoot some jars� And Dextrose or Karo Tek� for your next bed. Follow the tips and tricks outlined in these teks and you too will succeed! Sterile tek for straw! (well near sterile anyway)�

Damned clean. Here are pics of the level of clean I am talking about.

By Underground_Shaman on Wednesday, August 08, 2001 - 02:49 pm:

roger wilco:
I have done some tinkering with the cake:straw ratio and have found that these can be critical components to success. Too little spawn leads to slower colonization, which in turn leads to higher failure rates. Try this: use 13x9 inch pans with plastic lids, available at supermarket. after straw is pasteurized and cool (chopping is preferred by some, but can be optional) lay down a layer of straw, grind spawn and sprinkle a thorough layer over straw. next a layer of straw, sprinkle spawn, etc. to about 2-3 inches deep. I have found that depth of straw has little to do with yeild. It's all about surface area. Another important tip is to be sure to pack down the straw layers as you go be make sure the brick is packed tightly, as this greatly reduces time for spawn to run through casing. You should use one whole cake to spawn the pan size mentioned above. This also results in faster colonization. When this is done, casing can be done three days later, as straw is now a colonized brick. See my notes on using timothy hay in growing threads. There is more, but this post is long enough.

Hope this helps, R.W.
Good luck!

By Lichen (Lichen) on Sunday, October 07, 2001 - 04:03 am:

Ok, so maybe I'm not a newbie, guy, but I am a dunderhead when it comes to a few things:

Please tell me why you use bloodmeal and oak juice to soak your straw.

Also, are worm castings available only through mushroom cultivator suppliers?

In my OTlichentek, I used field grass, and verm for casing. It worked fine, but I see nobody else uses verm for casing.

I have a few straw trays, my first ever, and one is nearly ready to case. I intended to case wih verm. Why should I use something else? Please excuse me.
I hate to come asking these questions: if I had been paying attention back in June I probably would know the answers, but unfortunately I was just having fun instead of absorbing all the info.

Help me out, Nanook, please? (and of course anyone else who would like to)

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Sunday, October 07, 2001 - 06:01 am:

>>Please tell me why you use bloodmeal and oak juice to soak your straw.

Bloodmeal is a good nitrogen source (12%) which will help straw beds fruit heavier and last longer. But it is strong, it don't take much. Oak juice??? Sorry I am clueless, never even heard of it! :)

>>Also, are worm castings available only through mushroom cultivator suppliers?

Worm's Way carries it for about $25 for 30lbs. It is available at other places tho they may have to order it for you.

Worm castings are the bomb. Much easier to use than blood meal, you can use all of it you want because it is mild (1% nitrogen as opposed to 12% for blood meal).

>>In my OTlichentek, I used field grass, and verm for casing. It worked fine, but I see nobody else uses verm for casing.

Verm works, but it costs more than 50/50 mix. On a small tray or two it's no big deal.

>>I have a few straw trays, my first ever, and one is nearly ready to case. I intended to case wih verm. Why should I use something else? Please excuse me.

Use the verm it will work just fine. I am currently mixing up casing that contains potting soil (a premix that contains primarily peat-verm-perlite enriched with seaweed and bat guano, pH stabilized with oyster shell) with added verm to lighten it up and help moisture retention. I use lots of Lime because the Trich here can be nasty. The casing I am using comes in about .2% nitrogen (because it is enriched) and has a lot of digestible organic matter which helps feed the bed as well as regulate the moisture. But contams will be a problem unless you use lots of lime and keep the pH up around 7.8 - 8.0 ... And be warned... Just because the pH is set there does not mean it stays there... The pH of enriched casings slowly drift downward as the organics break down, when it drops below 7.5 Trich starts up here. Your mileage may vary, but lime is important, especially in later Flushes.

>>I hate to come asking these questions: if I had been paying attention back in June I probably would know the answers, but unfortunately I was just having fun instead of absorbing all the info.

That's OK. I had not progressed to the point of using nitrogen enriched casings at that point anyway, so you get current info.


By Lichen (Lichen) on Sunday, October 07, 2001 - 06:42 am:

way cool, thanks for the help. I suppose I'll go with vermiculite for casing; it doesn't contaminate, and I like that.

As to the 'oak juice' you gotta laugh at me. I was reading in the archives where you outlined some tips, and my dyslexia kicked in when I read the part about ' one tablespoon of bloodmeal to seven gallons of soak water'. I thought it said 'oak water'.

How absurd is that? LOL

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Sunday, October 07, 2001 - 07:09 am:

By Fishy1 (Fishy1) on Sunday, October 07, 2001 - 05:50 pm:

And you can never go wrong by adding lime to the casing (even striaght vermiculite). I found (back in June/July) that a mix of coarse and fine vermic. and a GOOD dose (maybe 1 part in 4) of pickling lime helped w/ bigger flushes. They seem to like a textured casing. I like peat or cocofiber with vermic. and lime....I gotta try to find some coarser lime....helps w/ the texture.
Worm castings are awesome once ya get the h2o content on. I get them at my farmers market, or at the local hardware. I even did strait worm cakes in those gladware tubs, innoculated w/ PF cake powder. Nice HEAVY meaty shrooooooms.
Good luck, LICHEN.
Nan...How the PANS doin? fishy1

By Eatyualive (Eatyualive) on Monday, September 03, 2001 - 08:04 pm:

After using your worm casting/mycalia colonization of the straw. once colonization has occured do you still case or will the mushrooms grow straight from the colonized worm castings.

By Johnseemore (Johnseemore) on Friday, September 07, 2001 - 12:17 am:

you shoud case it i do and i got that biggun up top. my 2 sense

By Nanook of the North (Nanook) on Sunday, September 30, 2001 - 03:45 am:

I case. But I have a cloned strain that does fruit directly from straw, but it fruits _much_ better with a 50/50 casing... And use a hefty dose of lime in the casings. The beds that did not contam while I was on vacation were the ones that had lots of lime added to the casing mix.


By Roger_Wilco (Roger_Wilco) on Tuesday, September 25, 2001 - 05:40 pm:

i've recently been able to pull-off the straw tek and the beds have flushed once. how do i get them to flush again? should i scrape off casing, dunk and re-case? any suggestions welcome.

By Johnseemore (Johnseemore) on Tuesday, September 25, 2001 - 10:33 pm:

air 1 time a day, pick off dead guys and cover for 7 days then un cover mist to rehydrate and you can also add alittle more casing befor you cover then when you see the myc open here up and BOOM.


By Nan (Nanook) on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 05:07 pm:


well ive searched and searched and searched some more and cant find any info about making a substrae to spawn out of a mix of worm casings and straw, quote you once said that that is the best youve found, my cakes that i am using for spawn arent quite colonized yet but i wanna get prepped so im ready for them when they are.. could someone tell me if all i have to do is mix a 1:1 ratio of worm castings and straw, pasterized seperately and then mix together and add the PF cake??? this is what i was thinking of doing...

Soaking the straw for 24hrs
pasterizing it for 1-2 hours in 160 degree water
pasterizing the worm castings for 1-2 hours
mixing the pasterized worm castings and straw together in a 5 gallon bucket, putting enough PF cakes crukbled up to mix well with the amount of straw and worm castings in the buxkets, then when its mixed up real good scooping the mix into pans and setting in my terrarium...

Sound good?? thanks


sounds good to me. But I'm not really a pro so...
but hey where did you get the worm casing?


i pasturize in water, but others bake, both work, apparently.


you've got the right idea. here's a reduced version of one i've used with good results:

Pasteurizing the Straw

Get an old pillow case and put straw in it and tie a string around the top of the pillow case to hold it all in.. Put this pillowcase in the base of a large pressure cooker or some other large metal container that can withstand the stove top. Fill this with water and set a weight on top of it to prevent it from floating. You will need to keep the temperature close to (***but definitely less than***) 200f. [i find these temps a little high 160-180 is good] If you go over this you are destined to failure. let it cook in this for 2 hours and make sure there is always a good amount of water in it so it will not burn. A candy thermometer is a good way to tell what temperature it is in the pot, you can buy these at Wal-Mart. After it has been 2 hours take this out and let it cool off *100%* and make sure that is THOROUGHLY DRAINED.

Pasteurizing the Worm Dung

This is pretty simple. The hardest part is getting the water ratio right. Basically use good judgment and make sure you don't make muddy sludge just wet it good but not to where it is dripping and shit. Some recommend putting lime in your worm compost, but it is not a very big deal. Put this wet worm shit into large pie tins, put foil over the tins, and preheat the oven to 175f. Leave the tins in the oven around about 2 hours. Let cool off completely, 100%.

Mixing Spawn into the Substrate

Ok this is another cool part. Take a sterile Rubbermaid clothing bin (again from Wal-Mart) and duct-tape the bottom 6 inches of it to block out light from hitting the substrate from the sides. I recommend 1 full pillow case to a 10 pound bag of compost (they sell them by the 10lb bag at Mix both of these pasteurized substrates into the sterility. Get 2 1/2 gallon jars (a total of 1 gallon of spawn) and mix it into the dung/straw mixture. The take a third 1/2 gallon spawn jar and mix it into 100 worm dung/compost and make a pseudo-casing out of the mixture. [this is pretty forgiving in terms of ratios and so on--feel free to experiment] Let ALL of this colonize 100%, it wont take long AT ALL. After it is colonized 100% case normally with 50/50 or even coco-fiber. Put a light on the sterilite lid and soup the tank up however floats your boat. Growing parameters are the same of course.

By Anthony glavan (Eightball8080) on Sunday, October 21, 2001 - 04:37 am:

I have 5 jars colenizing and I plan to spawn them into either Timothy Hay or wheat straw . What should I do . And where do I purchase wheat straw? The strain is P. cubensis PESA amazonian.Is this a good strain I'm kinda knew at tis so all info will help.

By jack cracker (Cptcracker) on Sunday, October 21, 2001 - 05:44 am:

IMO wheat straw, and toss any leafy parts. The straw can be found at just about any feed store. Make sure you soak before pastuerizing, and then hang for about 24 hours to drain, excess moisture will spoil your fun in a flash.
Make sure all of your tools and containers are clean, and don't be afraid to use lots of alcohol, but let it dry because alcohol is deadly to mycelium.
Be ready to case with moisture balanced 50/50+ in 3 or 4 days. The Lime is a significant help to cutting down on trichonomas.

Incubate a week for the casing run (no air) then start giving light and fan at least twice daily. You should see your progress. Pins turn into shrooms. Jack

By SYDYSTYK (Addict) on Saturday, October 27, 2001 - 07:01 am:

my questions pertain to a post by you in the archives where you post, "quote went on and on about worm castings..." i was wondering with this method 1.when is the best time to cold shock cake/spawn/bed? next... say,"i hate to leave the straw sit and drain for a day or two to obtain the perfect moisture....and i add dry worm castings, long do you drain for? 3.should i sterilize 50/50+? thank you for all the help

By Nan (Nanook) on Saturday, October 27, 2001 - 08:31 am:

Good questions...

1) I incubate the beds at temps in the mid 80's until the spawn run is complete, then give it a couple more days before reducing the temp and start fanning.

2) I drain anywhere from 1-3 hours, but the straw comes out _hot_. You can drain and allow to cool overnight too. The final moisture content is adjusted with dry worm castings so as little or as much draining as you desire is going to be fine, just make sure you have enough dry castings on hand to soak up the extra moisture if you are only draining a short time.

3) Yes I sterilize the 50/50 casing. Capping the straw bed with sterile casing right after spawning forms a contam barrier very much like the verm layer in the top of the jar. It also holds in the humidity.

By SYDYSTYK (Addict) on Saturday, October 27, 2001 - 08:37 am:

thank you much

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