Oldtimer's Straw Tek

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By Anonymous on Friday, October 12, 2001 - 10:17 pm: The Nook

Oldtimer's Straw Tek #1

OT Straw Tek 1.doc
ot_straw_tek_1.doc (223 k)


Oldtimer's Straw Tek #2

OT Straw Tek 2.doc
ot_straw_tek_2.doc (369 k)


Oldtimer's Straw Tek #3

OT Straw Tek 3.doc
ot_straw_tek_3.doc (232 k)



Word document with orginal formatting and pics.

By Anonymous on Friday, October 12, 2001 - 10:31 pm: The Nook

Straw Growing Questions:

Straw Growing question.doc
straw_growing_question.doc (317 k)

By Nan (Nanook) on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 08:18 pm: The Nook

originally posted by 'oldtimer'
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A method I use might prove useful to you. I simply start 1/2 pint jars using traditional PF Tek. Once jars are fully colonized I get ready for straw inoculation. I soak regular old straw (which I get from a Feed & Seed) for 24 hours. After soaking I chop the straw and place in a large pasta pot. Bring to 160F for 1 hour. After pasteurization I allow straw to cool, drain and place in pans with clear "greenhouse" type lids. Take the "cake" and grind it to powder in a food processor/blender. Believe it or not the grinding does not harm the mycelium. Sprinkle the cake powder all over the straw and mix in throughly. Every minute particle of PF cake dust will become a growth point giving super fast colonization of the straw. Allow spawn to run through and case. You will get really good flushes (much more than fruiting individual cakes) and produce many more carpophores for your enjoyment. Of course optimum humidity must be maintained throughout the entire growing cycle from inoculation to fruiting. For years I started cultures using petri dishes, replated several times, transferred to grain and fruited strictly on manure/straw compost. Now, thanks to PF I have learned a much easier and quicker method for growing our fungi friends using straw and cakes with no lab time at all. See, you can teach an old head new tricks.

summary by Kaijan

Materials:

· Straw
· Miracle Grow / Potting soil (peat based mix)
· Lime (Mineral)
· Pans with clear lids.


Procedure:

1. Soak straw in water for 24 hours
2. Chop the straw and place in pasta pot, boil for an hour at 160F
3. Drain Excess water in colander and allow it to cool off.
4. Place straw in pans with clear lids.
5. Take a ½ pint PF style cake and crumble or grind up into small particles.
6. Sprinkle powder over the straw and mix thoroughly.
7. Allow spawn to run through and case.
8. Maintain optimum humidity through growing cycle.

For Casing:

7. Obtain good potting soil (miracle grow, or a peat based mix.)
8. Add a small amount of lime (mineral) to raise Ph
9. Place soil mix in a pan and heat in an oven to 160F for 1 hour.
10. Allow soil to cool off completely.
11. Mix soil with water until damp. (No water drips when squeezed)
12. Spread a layer of moist soil ¾ís of an inch deep over the straw.
13. Mist 2-3 times a day to keep soil moist
14. Keep humidity high, but do not over water.
15. Fruiting should occur within a week.

Quote:

more...
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I use a good potting soil such as "Miracle Grow" or any peat based mix. Take dry soil and mix in a little lime (mineral, not fruit!) to raise the Ph slightly. A little will do the trick. Place the soil mix in a pan and heat it in an oven to 160F for about 1-2 hours. Allow soil to cool and mix with some water (preferably sterile) until you get an overall moistening. You want it to be damp, but not soaking wet. A good rule of thumb is to wet until it forms a good ball when you squeeze it in your hand but no water drips out. Just good and moist. Spread a layer of moistened soil about 3/4 inch thick over the spawn-run straw, keep moist and mist the casing lightly with water 2-3 times a day. You should begin to see pinning within several days. Keep the humidity high but do not overwater. You want it moist, not dripping wet. Think like a mushroom... Ahhh, this feels just right... and you'll get a good crop. I can turn you on to a really fast manure/straw compost method that produces compost in seven days if you want to try it, but the straw alone will work fine.

yet more...
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Geez Quote.... Where do I start?!

Q: Is it more effective to pasteurize wet rather than dry materials?
A: Hell if I know. I do know it's a lot easier to stir a pan of 160 degree dry soil in the oven. In short, the heat is doing its job wet or dry and it's much easier to work with dry. An additional plus is the fact that you can store the dry stuff for later use. Wet soil is much less convenient to store and is more likely to be infested with bacteria if you tried to use it later. I like being able to sterilize a batch of dry soil, use what I need and put the rest in a clean zip-loc freezer bag for later use.

Q: Why do I prefer a peat based mixture that requires the Ph to be adjusted?
A: Well to be honest... I've always used peat based soils for casing because that's what Bob Harris and Paul Staments taught me to use about 25 years ago! Actually though, I really like the "consistency" of these soils. They hold moisture nicely, stay fluffy and are easy to spread over the spawn. I assume vermiculite would work but may be hard to wet evenly if spread on dry. You could probably wet it in a bowl (like you do when fixing up PF jars) and it would do okay. It's just a matter of what works for me as well as ease of use. As for Ph, well it's no problem to throw in a pinch of lime. It's not like you have to get a Ph pen and really adjust the medium to an exact Ph. The lime just pulls the Ph up a little and takes the acidic edge off. I have used peat soils with no lime, but I do seem to get faster/better pinning with a little lime.

Q: If one did use a 3/4th inch thick casing, what depth of substrate would you recommend?
A: Depends on how deep your container is! Seriously, I usually place about 3-4 inches of straw in the pan and case with 1/2 to 3/4 inches of soil. You don't want your straw too deep since you're wanting the spawn to colonize rapidly. A really deep container of straw tends to compact reducing spawn run plus it can get so dense it can actually mat allowing anaerobic bacteria to crop up ruining your bed. You don't need a thick layer of straw to grow an abundance of shrooms.

Q: Have you fruited directly from straw, without casing?
A: Yes.

Q: I'm told that straw doesn't need to be cased, why do you prefer to case it?
A: Open straw will pin and fruit, as will PF cakes, compost or whatever else you find to grow on. The reason for casing is easier moisture control. Pure and simple. The casing layer acts as a buffer between the air and the spawn effectively creating a micro-environment just under the casing. This protects primordia that are forming and prevents aborts due to excessive drying. Plus you can mist the casing layer without applying water directly to your spawn. The shrooms will thank you for this. By using a casing layer you can eliminate a lot of the stress involved in trying to keep bare cakes or whatever from drying. The casing makes your mushrooms a little more "forgiving", plus you don't need as wet an environment thereby helping to reduce the growth of unwanted fungi and bacteria in your beds.

Now for Infoseeker:
Q: How many PF cakes to use?
A: I normally grind up and spread one 1/2 pint jar per square foot of bed. My beds are generally about 3-4 inches deep but one jar should handle beds of 6 inches in depth. Be sure not to get to deep are you'll have unwanted guests from the anaerobic bacteria community. By the way, while we're discussing bacteria, please be really careful handling spawn or anything else that has become contaminated. Some of the critters you might find growing in your jars can make you quite sick if you happen to breath them in or inadvertently ingest them. Dispose of any and all contaminated cultures immediately.

As for the hydrogen peroxide process for bulk spawn preparation I have to refer you to the resident expert on the subject, R. Rush Wayne, Ph.D. His booklets titled "Growing Mushrooms the Easy Way" "Cultivation with Hydrogen Peroxide" Volume I and II can be purchased from him at mycomasters.com. I have read both volumes and find that problems related to peroxide-decomposing enzymes in organic substrates can limit your choices. He spells out ways to work around this but I have found hot water pasteurization to be an easier route. If you can swing it set up a clean 55 gallon drum on concrete blocks and place a gas "fish cooker" under it. Make a basket out of metal hardware cloth and heat bulk quantities of straw this way. I have never needed that much straw for psilocybes but I do pasteurize straw this way for Pleutotus (oyster mushrooms), Portobellos and other gourmet shrooms that I grow.

Q: Does anybody sell ready to use compost?
A: Check with MushroomPeople and Fungi Perfecti but don't mention psychedelics as they probably won't deal with you if you do. Personally, I would suggest making your own compost if you have access to cow manure and straw. It's very simple and I know a super quick trick to get usable compost in 7 days. I'll post the method when the "writers cramp" moves out of my fingers! Later.


and...
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Infoseeker,

If you are placing perlite under your straw it probably IS more trouble than it's worth. A good, properly prepared straw bed 3-4 inches deep shouldn't need any additional humidity or moisture retaining additives. The straw itself is moist and should hold more than enough water to produce plentiful mushrooms. My beds stay moist (especially after casing} and the mycelium grows fast and furious. You should strive for a light and airy bed with ample (but not stifling) moisture content. Beds that I inoculate with ground up PF cakes fully colonize in 2 days to the point where you can literally lift the entire bed out as a block or brick of mycelium. Inspection under the straw reveals a moist, healthy environment with no contaminants at all. I think folks are getting too involved with environment control and missing the point (to produce carpophores). Mushroom farming is like any any other growing project. Sometimes folks get so wrapped up in creating environments they overlook the simple, common sense things. Trust me, pasteurize some straw, drain it and place in a shallow pan with some type of lid. Inoculate this straw with a jar or two of ground up PF cake powder as spawn and watch what happens. Let go of all the processes and procedures you've read about and let nature take its course. Please don't think I'm trying to sound like some mushroom guru or something, I'm not, I'm just relaying knowledge to you that has accumulated around me over the years. Simple methods work and simple is always better if you achieve the desired results.

If you plant a bed in the method described above you should have no need for hydrogen peroxide or any other sterilants.

I will post hydrogen peroxide substrate preparation steps as explained by R. Rush Wayne, Ph.D. for straw since you seem to be interested in trying this method. I still say hot water pasteurization is easier and less of a hassle, but this forum is for the dissemination of information and on that note...

The following excerpt is from...
GROWING MUSHROOMS THE EASY WAY - Home Mushroom Cultivation with Hydrogen Peroxide
VOLUME I by R. Rush Wayne, Ph.D. Copyright 2000
Complete copies are available at www.mycomasters.com

In Volume I he suggests using Calcium Hydroxide to pasteurize straw.

Growing Mushrooms on Straw Using Hydrated Lime --

A number of mushrooms will grow on straw, and straw is the traditional substrate for oyster mushroom cultivation. The standard way to prepare straw for mushroom growing is to steep it in water heated to 180 degrees F for an hour, then drain cool it down and inoculate. However, without some specialized equipment, it can be rather awkward to heat any significant amount of straw in hot water, and it is often difficult to tell whether the straw has cooled sufficiently for inoculation unless you have a compost thermometer. So, I prefer to use a cold water hydrated lime soak. Hydrated lime (calcium hydroxide or Mason's lime, available at builder's supply stores) is a caustic powder which creates a strongly alkaline solution in water. The alkali both pasteurizes the straw and wets it by penetrating the waxy coating on the straw. When the solution is drained off, the liquid that remains behind on the straw gets converted by carbon dioxide in the air to ordinary calcium carbonate lime, which is alkaline but no longer caustic.

I have a large plastic tub that will take a quarter of a bale of straw. With the straw in place, the tub then takes 25 gallons of water to fill to the rim. I use a one half percent solution of hydrated lime, which means one pound of lime in 25 gallons of water. I mix a slurry of hydrated lime in a separate bucket, then pour it into the tub in stages as the tub is filling with water, to assure thorough mixing. (Caution: hydrated lime will burn skin and eyes. Be sure to wear gloves and eye protection when handling the powder or the solution. Also store the powder in an airtight container to maintain its potency). I let the straw soak for about 16 hours, then drain it for 2 hours. You can probably get away with using half as much lime, but then it may prove wise to soak the straw somewhat longer, say 24 hours instead of 16.

I inoculate the straw by filling a plastic trash bag, draped inside a large cardboard apple box. I put a layer of straw, then a sprinkling of spawn, then another layer of straw, then more spawn, and so forth. Finally I close up the bag and compress the straw by pushing the bag and its contents down into the box as far as I can get it to go. A quarter of a bale of straw fills three apple boxes worth. The bags get loosely twisted closed and covered with old bed sheets to incubate for about a month.

In Volume II he suggests using Hydrogen Peroxide to pasteurize straw.

Bulk Substrate - Preparing straw with peroxide at room temperature--

Next we come to a method for using peroxide to prepare straw for use as a mushroom substrate. This method can be carried out entirely at room temperature, with no heating and cooling step, and no caustic solution required.

Here I have to admit that my previous publications all argued that straw could not be usefully pasteurized by treatment with hydrogen peroxide solution. I reasoned that straw contains high levels of peroxide-decomposing enzymes (as do other similar substrates), and these enzymes would both destroy the peroxide in short order and protect the numerous mold spores in the straw from the peroxide. Now it turns out that straw nevertheless CAN be pasteurized with hydrogen peroxide. Yes, the peroxide is indeed destroyed by the enzymes in the straw in a relatively short time. But if we raise the peroxide concentration and we tweak the chemistry of the peroxide solution slightly, the peroxide can still have a beneficial effect even in the brief time it survives contact with the straw. And although the peroxide itself does not linger to protect the straw from subsequent contamination, it nevertheless seems to transform the straw into a substrate that is favorable for the growth of mushroom mycelium, one that resists contamination even when the peroxide itself is gone. The peroxide apparently does this at least partly by way of a chemical reaction with the straw.

Despite this complicated explanation, the protocol for preparing straw with peroxide is extremely simple. It goes like this:

1. Place your straw in a large soak vessel.

2. Fill the vessel with a hydrogen peroxide concentration of at least 0.15%, combined with 10 mls. of vinegar per liter of soaking solution (about 2.5 tablespoons per gallon).

3. For chopped straw, soak about 4 hours at room temperature. For unchopped straw, soak for at least 28 hours, or until the leachate takes on the color of a good tea.

4. Drain the straw throughly, until it is no longer drippy.

5. Remove the straw to your culture containers, mixing in spawn as you go.

I recommend chopping the straw for best results. Chopping the straw promotes more efficient absorption of water, and the smaller particle size encourages faster mycelial growth upon inoculation.

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By Fungusflipper (Fungusflipper) on Saturday, May 05, 2001 - 06:14 pm

So, guys, my FOAF wants to try the straw tek Old T talks about, but I am curious.... being a first timer should he use the plastic layer over the spawn while it germinates? I know another straw tek mentioned this.... Do you guys feel this step is important or no?

FF

By Quote (Quote) on Saturday, May 05, 2001 - 11:46 pm

i would, it keeps moisture right.

By Oldtimer (Oldtimer) on Sunday, May 06, 2001 - 03:18 pm

Yeah, you need something to keep the humidity in. I use growing trays with a clear top that creates a kind of "greenhouse" environment inside the tray.

Let us know how it goes...

OT

By Fishy1 (Fishy1) on Sunday, May 06, 2001 - 03:42 pm

Hey OT,

Are you referring to the black plastic garden flats that have the clear plastic top? These are avail. at local "mart" stores...

And what is the scoop on perlite. Yrs ago I visited a shroom farm in the SW. The growers had 3 huge greenhouses going. Birdseed, onto straw, cased with peat, vermic, and perlite. The caps were like hamburger buns! People on this site seem to have an aversion to perlite, it seems...what gives? fishy1

By Oldtimer (Oldtimer) on Sunday, May 06, 2001 - 05:10 pm

Those are the ones, I use 'em all the time for starting straw beds... Perlite bugs me due to its habit of being hard to get rid of... trashes up the place and is really noticable in beds. Makes a nice additive for casing mixes in limited amounts.

By Quote (Quote) on Monday, May 07, 2001 - 02:03 pm

we luv perlite, really

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I hope this answers some of your questions - Nan

Shroom Glossary