Complete and Total Disaster

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By skippy420 on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 07:49 am: The Nook

Well, my wafer tray has been having problems from about day 1. It took forever to start pinning, like 16 days after I cased it. The first 3 mushrooms I picked off it, after their veils had broken and they were done growing and everything weighed about 4 grams wet (the 3 together). Pretty pathetic.

About 5 minutes ago, the shelf the tray was on collapsed. The lid stayed on, now I have a mess of vermiculite, mycelium and dirt completely strewn about in the container hehe. Oh well, it wasn't the most promising tray I've ever heard of, although there was one fat pin, but I mean shit it wasn't so not promising I was going to throw it on the floor!

Here's my point. The tray was producing ridiculously tiny mushrooms and few enough pins to count on both my hands at any one time. It was 50/50 casing mix, although I didn't have lime so I used baking soda the make it more base and had no idea if that was going to work. If that doesn't sound like the problem, what could have been? Water? I know it was getting enough light. Anyway I'm quite glad I'm getting to start over, although this is kind of an unnacceptable way. That wasn't God telling me not to grow shrooms, he just wants me to grow bigger ones I think :-) So please, all ideas of how to do the wafer tek right, and do you think that baking soda could've been the problem? I thinks I'm gonna recase with just vermiculite because the mycelium was all in the bottom layer of vermiculite but not very much in the 50/50 layer. Anyway having trays of poor little mushrooms splatter on your floor sucks. Damn it.

Oh yeah one other thing. What exactly should an invitro cake look like after the first flush? It looks pretty dark, I thought it was dehydration, but I dunked it 12 hours and it's still dark. I'm positive it isn't a contam, is it normal? Thanks everyone for your input.

By Poopypants (Poopypants) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 08:30 am: The Nook

Hey, I had the same problem, I used the jiffy mix stuff you get at Walmart, looked good at first... But even with the humidity in the chamber the damn casing dried out because there's nothing to hold the moisture in the casing ( tooooo much peat ). So I put a thin layer of verm over top of the jiffy mix and salvaged a half decent batch. You deffinitely have to mix it with quite a bit of verm.

TRY to save what you have, pull out your wafers.. stick em in a bag. Nuke some real damp verm, put it in the bottom of your tray.. throw the cakes on it.. let it sit for 24 hrs.. if you see some myc growth.. case it with a 1/2 inch layer of damp verm.. put it away to incubate.. I throw verm casings in when the myc shows about 40-50% the rest fills in fast. Give it a 12 hr cold shock first if you can.

I've had a lot of projects go completely to shit on me in the past... I got so mad I gave up on it for 2 years. But one thing I have learned is growing mushrooms is a fucking art, it's different for every one of us depending on where we live. You just have to keep at it and find your groove man. Look at OT, it takes experience... that only a hundred failures can provide(I don't know if OT's ever had a failure), but when you get that experience... you'll be whipping up batches and getting pissed off when you don't get 3 pounds out of it. :)

Peace Man,


P.S. If God didn't want you to grow shrooms, he wouldn't have made them.

By Mycogal (Mycogal) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 08:37 am: The Nook

lol Skippy! I'm having the same experience- minus the shelf collapse- with my wafer tray. Even down to the 16 days it took to pin! I got 4 midgets from it so far. I'm such a newbie that I have no advice to offer :( . Just wanted to let you know I feel your pain! :) -M

By skippy420 on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 09:00 am: The Nook

Wquoping up batches and being pissed when I don't get 3 pounds HAHAAHAH that'll be the day bro. Thanks for the advice, I think maybe I can save a little, I think I might mash up the wafers into littler pieces before casing it, I did this on another tray and it colonized WAY faster.

By Mushy (Mushy) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 12:47 pm: The Nook

I had pretty fair success my first go round, and now I get pissed when I have to clean a bunch of little bitty fun guys. I can get them to fruit, but not consistently large.

What poopy said is exactly true, there are too many variables for someone to follow any tek exactly and get the same results as the author.

My trouble in the beginning was that I was in too much of a rush to actually get shrooms. Now that I have shrooms, I am slowing it down, taking more time and consideration, and things are becoming easier and easier.

Just be patient and keep at it! Some people try and try and don't even see a pin...

Oh yeah, one other thing, my experience has been that I was making casings WAY too dry when I first started. When the teks say to add enough water that it barely drips when squeezed...this has NOT been acceptable in my situation. When I am mixing up casing, I make it so that when I push a pile against the side of the bowl and push against it with a fork, I can see some moisture trickle out. I don't mean gently push either, but give it a nice firm push. And I don't mean a creek size trickle, I mean a TRICKLE! A few drops. If its too wet, it will dry in a day or two, or be absorbed by the substrate. If its too dry, myc won't even grow into it.

At least, that is what has been working for me.

Good luck!

By Oldtimer on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 01:22 pm: The Nook

I suspect the problems you guys are having are directly related to the casing material. From what I am reading... (16 days to colonize, etc.) I have to wonder exactly what it is that is being used to case with... A good casing soil will show signs of colonization practically overnight and should be completely run through in no more than a week. If your wafers are not taking to the casing in a rapid, vigorous manner then review your casing....
Some of the best results I've had with wafer trays were from using "miracle grow" brand potting soil. I know everyone says it has fertilizer and other stuff in it, but believe me it does work... Many of the cheaper brands have a lower quality peat that just won't hold the moisture properly...Try a few experiments by placing a few pieces of PF cake in clean jars with several different small samples of casing soils. Watch to see which ones take off... This will give you a good idea if the mycelium prefers the casing soil or not...What you're looking for is a good moisture retentive soil that the mycelium LOVES...If the test just sits there or seems to be slow to take to the casing soil, try something else...Trust me, if the mycelium doesn't like the casing you'll never get any decent crops....Next time try using a 1/2" thick layer of moist MG soil that has been pasteurized at 160F for an hour. Place a lid (or plastic) over the tray and allow to incubate in total darkness with no air exchanges for 5-7 days. At this point you should see good colonization of the casing... When the casing is run through, start light exposure and air exchanges...AND drop the temp a few degrees!! This works for me every time... If you still have horrible results we'll need to look at other possible causes, but for now I feel the casing soil is the culprit...


By Mycogal (Mycogal) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 07:59 pm: The Nook

Would it make any sense to scrape off my casing layer (hyponex potting soil) and recase w/miracle grow? My last remaining shroom is about ready to pick. My myc did poke through in about 4 days. It didn't pin for about 2 weeks, so I added a thin verm layer on top. A couple days later I had pins. This tray is from a salvaged cake that may have had cobweb, so I'm happy with whatever I get out of it. I just kind of threw it together at the last minute instead of tossing the cake. Next time I'll be more careful.-M

By Karna (Karna) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 08:41 pm: The Nook

Mycogal, something is not right if your casing is not pinning for two weeks. It should be practically covered with pins on the seventh or eighth day after entering into the fruiting chamber.
IMO and experience, it is way better to mix up the soil with some medium grade vermiculite. It gives a better consistency, better aeration, better water retention and nice controlled evaporation, makes the casing soil easier to work with and promotes a very nice pinning even in less than perfect circumstances.

If your tray took two weeks before pinning signs, your circumstances are likely nowhere near perfect. I'd be interested to hear what kind of terrarium and fruiting conditions you have going with these trays, meanwhile, I would try mixing your peat based potting soil with some verm and lime.

By Lichen (Lichen) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 08:46 pm: The Nook

I'm so sorry, mycogal, but I have, not an answer to your query, but another question, for OT:

I have some tubs with fruiting cakes in them, and I cased some of them with OGBD. The mycelium became extremely agressive, throwing wild rhizomorphic mycelium into the dung as you say, almost overnight. My feeling is the mycelium is abandoning its cake base and running headlong to consume this new food. Hence my question: Should casing be less nutrient-rich than pure dung? Vermiculite behaves like the sterile nutrient-free stuff it is, and I've never deviated from straight PFtek which calls for verm as casing and teaches casing to be nothing more than a moisture-retention mechanism.

By Karna (Karna) on Thursday, August 09, 2001 - 09:19 pm: The Nook

Well Lichen, I'm not OT, but I'm here(!), so I thought I'll offer a thought or 2.
IMO, any wildly rhizhomorphic growth is good. I don't think the mycelium is "abandoning" anything, it's just accepting the opportunity you offered, to grow and spread.
As far as a casing layer, I have never used straight dung, so I can offer no advice, but the 3M guy has and he claims he has got 9 flushes from this technique BECAUSE it is nutritious. I think you can find a link to his site from the front page at the old site or the spore suppliers link.
As a sidenote, I recently started using worm castings as part of my casing recipe. I now mix up peat based moisture plus potting soil, worm castings and verm in a 1-1-1.5 ratio. Of course, the worm castings in this mixture have nutritive content. So far it is working great. I cased some wafers a week ago and a mammoth flush is in the making. I'll post some pics if I can find a working camera and hook up my antique scanner.

By Oldtimer on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 12:19 am: The Nook

If it works...go for it! Casings are traditionally non-nutritional, but in my experience with cubensis, if you use a fairly nutritional casing (such as worm castings) you will be amply rewarded...I have never truly understood the conventional wisdom of non-nutritional casings other than the fact that most books/articles are pertaining to commercial agaricus (button mushroom) production and are not dealing strictly with cubensis... Like I say...if you find a casing that your shrooms like and it supports their growth....use it...
In the old days I used only composted straw/manure to grow beds, but since the remarkable "PF cake" tek came about I've found spawn production to be a cinch with plenty to spare for experimentation on different substrates that produce just as well as manure compost...


By Glassman (Glassman) on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 01:04 am: The Nook

Well, I've got an experience to add to the discussion. I tried the wafer tek with a straight 1/4" -3/8" verm casing on top and bottom. The mycellium took the casing fairly well, peaking it's nose out in 2 or 3 days (which I promptly covered to try to let it colonize evenly) and after 5 days I put it into my terrarium. It began pinning like mad almost immediately, and I giggled myself to sleep everynight for a couple of days in sweet anticipation for the harvest that would never come. Some of you may have seen the pictures I've posted of this casing, as I haven't been very pleased with the results. I've probably been picking an average of 1 shroom per day for about 2 weeks now, but they are rather small, and not too impressive. Maybe I've already been spoiled by the stately beauties that have been growing from my cakes, but I'm pretty sure I won't try this method again. hmmph. (as I pout alone)

By kewsee on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 04:01 am: The Nook

Listen to OT. I was feeling adventurous one evening and decided to use this left over potting soil stuff I had from my previous gardening projects ;). So I did a casing of half Miracle Grow moisture retaining (whatever the exact name is)potting soil, and half vermiculite. I have never seen such rhizo growth, hundreds of pins. Whatever is in this stuff mushies LOVE it. It's probably that fertilizer everyones so afraid of. :)


By Karna (Karna) on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 01:10 pm: The Nook

glassman, your culprit is most likely either the verm grade (too large maybe. Needs to be medium grade, soaked completely in water, then excess drained, left pretty wet.Straight verm can be left pretty wet so long as it is medium grade since the myc will absorb what it needs and the excess will evaporate slowly. Not so with 50-50 or soil based casing should not be moistened far beyond field capacity)
or the conditions in your terrarium.
1 shroom per day indicates something is off.

By Mushy (Mushy) on Friday, August 10, 2001 - 02:47 pm: The Nook

Hrmm, I have been using fine grade verm, very small stuff the consistency of sand. Mixing 50/50 with peat has been the WORST solution so far. Plain verm of the same grade has succeeded, but the myc never colonizes the verm, only barely invades the layer, then fruits from below.

The best I have seen so far was on a cake that has about 4 parts peat to 1 part fine verm, with a bit of lime thrown in. It was fully colonized in a few days and had a sizable flush of fruits, just harvested this am.

Cased a tub and a few wafer trays with same, will see in a few days how that goes.

In my experience, though, I have had least success due to poor water content. Casing for me really needs to be pretty moist...

By Glassman (Glassman) on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 12:35 am: The Nook

hmmm. . . maybe it's just not moist enough. . . it's either medium grade or fine grade verm, but I actually thought that I had OVER saturated the verm. . . interesting suggestion though. Thanks as always for the tips.

By Jesseb (Jesseb) on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 01:49 am: The Nook

Well I have a question about my straw bed. I cased it about five days ago and the myco is taking over the casing layer. It is not very thick yet so my question is, should the casing layer be all white? Should I go ahead and put it in the terrrarium? All of the casing layer has myco showing it is just not to heavy. I know that I don't want to wait to long and let the myco get REALLY heavy as to avoid matting. Well instead of regurgatating I hope that my ?'s make sense. Thanks


By Kaijan (Kaijan) on Saturday, August 11, 2001 - 03:47 am: The Nook

no, you dont want the casing to be all white. Put it in the terrarium when it starts poking through the casing. (right now) if it gets too heavy with myc. you can get overlay.


By skippy420 on Tuesday, August 14, 2001 - 05:39 am: The Nook

Hehe, I left the tray with the devasted shaken up stuff in a box and forgot about it, and came back to pick another dry gram of shrooms off it. Tough little guys aren't they? Think I'm gonna grind up the wafers and recase with straight verm and see what happens.

By Jesseb (Jesseb) on Thursday, August 16, 2001 - 11:20 am: The Nook

All right it has been about two weeks now and no pins yet on my straw bed! I don't think that it has overlay. The myco is not that heavy on top. It is in the terrarium about 90% humidity and 80-90 degress. The other day I raked it with a fork thinking that it may be overlayed, nothing yet. Any suggestions? Thanks.


By Karna (Karna) on Thursday, August 16, 2001 - 01:34 pm: The Nook

Try to lower the temp to about 70-75, reduce the humidity a little and give a lot of air exchanges/ventilation. Breathability is important for straw per OT.

By Jesseb (Jesseb) on Friday, August 17, 2001 - 01:54 am: The Nook

All right thanks Karna. Would a cold shock help out? I have cakes in with the straw bed, should I get another terrarium just for the straw?


By Karna (Karna) on Friday, August 17, 2001 - 09:17 pm: The Nook

well cakes and casings need to be treated differently. I'm assuming here that you cased your straw since you mentioned overlay. if not, you need to ignore my previous post since it applied to cased straw. If you did case the straw, a seperate terrarium might help. Nothing fancy, just something that will hold the evaporation from the casings. A large tupperware like ot uses with maybe a li'l opening for air exchange will be fine. It needs to be humid just below the condensation point with as little air stagnations you can manage.

By Jesseb (Jesseb) on Saturday, August 18, 2001 - 04:23 pm: The Nook

All right thanks agian Karna. I will try to find something that I can put the straw bed in. I did case it and still have not seen any pins forming. I increased the fanning to four times a day, that is about all that I can do with my job. I guess that I will just wait it out and hope that some pins start. This is first time that I have had a straw bed make it to the terrarium with out it contaming, so I hope that it will flush. Well thanks agian karne.


By Chronic007 (Chronic007) on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 09:09 am: The Nook

Well all this talk about casing and adding this or that much vermiculite for this and that reason has me wondering something? Don't any of you other muck heads live in the US....not trying to pry but vermiculite was outlawed in California 2 1/2 months ago. I went on a wild hunt and found the last 6 bags of vermiculite in california (or so it seemed) and each place told me it has been outlawed nation wide because it causes cancer. So what in the frvvvv am I, and you supposed to do now!

P.S. I'll sell anyone 1 cup of vermiculite for 60 bucks.....hahahah...just kidding

By Purge (Purge) on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 12:38 pm: The Nook

I bought a bag Yesterday (florida)

By Vitticeps (Admin) on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 01:12 pm: The Nook

It was not outlawed. Over a decade ago, one of the hydrated laminar magnesium-aluminum-ironsilicate (vermiculite) mines, in Libby Montana, was determined to conatain asbestos. That mine was closed in 1990. There were a lot of law suits stemming from exposure to the asbestos in this mine dating back as far as the 1970's. Many of these law suits are still not settled today. Newsweek, McCalls, many newspapers, National Public Radio and 20/20 have all done segments on the sad stories of the miners and their families effected by exposure to the mine and the vermiculite produced there. These stories have created great confusion regarding vermiculite and asbestos through half truths and standard US media sensationalism. All products made from the output of that mine were pulled off the shelves many years ago. Due to the media attention and general ignorance of the American public, most major retailers pulled all brands of vermiculite off the shelves to avoid the myriad attacks from the media and public saftey activist groups. Most independent hardware stores and nurseries still carry it as they are less concerned with the media. It can still be found but it is definately harder to come by if you don't have many independently owned shops in your area. Nurseries (garden stores) are by far your best bet for finding it if the big chains have pulled it in your area.

So to make a long story short, vermiculite is hard to come by becuase the American public has been underinformed, misinformed, and lied to by the media and they just accept it without question.

By Purge (Purge) on Friday, August 31, 2001 - 01:21 pm: The Nook

we've been lied to?!? the media has twisted information and told us half truths?!? people just blindly follow where the leash held by the media and government lead?!? imagine that.

very good info Vitti, thanks. You rock. (boy, i'm glad they just call it vermiculite. I can imagine the vacant look on the W-mart associates face if i went in and asked for hydrated laminar magnesium aluminum iron silicate!)