|By Nan (Nanook) on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 05:28 pm:|
"SHROOM WIZARD"S GROW GUIDE"
Well, after twenty-seven years of cultivating mushrooms indoors and investigating dozens of different techniques, I have finally reached what I call a God given method for the untrained cultivator. This method is the easiest to start for the first timer and supplies required for the whole process, from start to harvest, costs under $20 (provided you already have a sporeprint). There is no humidifier or aquarium to buy and there are no elaborate or complicated setups required. They can easily be grown under a bed, in a closet or in a dresser drawer, and best of all, it produces as much fruit (mushrooms) by weight, as any of the other methods I've tried. I recommend that the inexperienced grower read this guide at least two times before beginning, just so you will fully understand the process. You should understand exactly what you are going to be doing and why you are doing it each step of the way. Nothing is more frustrating than to get into the middle of your project and run into problems. I do not encourage anyone to actually try any of the methods in this guide to grow psychotropical mushrooms, for to do so would be breaking the law, and I do not desire to have anyone do that. I give you this information for the pure sake of knowledge and also because it is your Constitutional right to be informed on any subject you wish. Again, children - do not try this at home.
"OVERVIEW OF PROCESS"
In this section I will just give a brief description of the growing process before I get into the actual details of it. First off: Sterilization - Sterilization is a very important part of mushroom cultivation, but not as important as most people think. What I mean by that is the fact that there are probably billions of foreign Contaminate spores floating around in the air where you are now. If some of these spores get into your culture jars they can easily kill your young plants. If we just use some common sense during the process of cultivation we can easily block out 90% of these foreign spores, that means the ultra sterile complicated methods (Inoculating Hoods, etc.) only block out the last 10% of the contaminates. I don't mind the 10% odds of my having contaminated cultures. With those odds I will lose approximate. 1.2 jars per dozen, not too bad. Even with the complicated methods and setups I lose that many cultures, so I've decided to bypass the complicated process, thus simplicity.
In my process, a mixture of organic Brown Rice flour, Vermiculite and Water are mixed in a bowl and spooned into twelve 1/2 pint mason jars (15 minutes work). These jars are placed in a Pressure Cooker until sterile (about 20 minutes). After they have cooled they are Inoculated with Spores (20 minutes work). At this time the jars are just placed under your bed, on a shelf in a closet or in a drawer and left alone for approximately three weeks. When this time period is up the jars are opened and the contents are mixed with potting soil in a tray, similar to a Rubbermaid or Tupperware bread box, and left alone for another week. Soon the entire surface of the soil will be covered with White Mycelium and possibly dozens of mushrooms in various stages of growth.
At this stage in the process all that is needed now is a once or twice a day Misting (with a hand sprayer) to keep the soil moist, and the picking of all matured mushrooms. It is a very easy process to grow mushrooms using this method.
Most books and manuals dedicated to mushroom cultivation are based on laboratory processes, are very complicated and not easily understood by the inexperienced cultivator. It is for this reason I have decided to write this guide. Hopefully it will help shed some of the fears new growers may have about not "knowing enough" to be successful. I recommend that when you are successful in cultivating of your crops that you take one of your mature mushrooms and make another sporeprint with it to replace the one that you used. This way you can always start a new crop whenever you desire or if you pass this guide on to someone else they will have the seeds required to try this cultivation process themselves. Full directions will be given at the end of this guide on how to make your own sporeprints. Good Luck !!
* Organic Brown Rice Flour: This *flour can be found in most any health food store and some larger upscale grocery stores even carry it. It usually comes in a two-pound bag and costs under $3.00. Make sure that the bag has the words "Organically Produced" on it, this is very important. A two-pound bag will be sufficient to make about three dozen (36) culture jars.
* ADDITION May 12, 2000 : If you can't find brown rice flour you can substitute it with either Soy Flour or rye flour as long as it states "Organically Produced" on the package.
Note from Nan: Soy flour is not a suitable substitute for Brown Rice Flour.
* Vermiculite: This is a product that can be found almost anywhere garden supplies are sold. I buy mine at either a K-Mart or Wal-Mart garden department or a huge bag costs under $4.00. Its purpose is to retain moisture and help keep the soil from becoming too tightly compacted.
* Hand Spray Bottle: I buy mine at K-Mart in the health and beauty section. Make sure it has an adjustable nozzle so you can spray a fine mist with it. These cost less than $1.00 each (buy 2).
* Canning Jars: You will need to purchase a case (one dozen) of 1/2 pint or 1 pint canning jars which are also called jelly jars or Mason jars. These can be found in about every major grocery store and cost around $4.00 to $6.00 a dozen. Make sure they are "wide mouth", meaning the top of the jar is larger than (or the same size as) the bottom of the jar, this is so the contents will simply slide out of the jar when ready (1/2 pint = 8 ounces and 1 pint = 16 ounces).
*Plastic Trays: These can be purchased in K-Mart or Wal-Mart also and are about the size of a standard shoe box with a snap on lid. I purchase mine in the K-mart kitchen storage utensil area. They are called Modular Storage Containers made by Aero Housewares (stock #3515). They are 13" x 7-1/2" x 6"high and come in packs of five for $4.89. If you can't find this exact brand, any similar sized type will do as long as it has a lid on it.
* Potting Soil: This is just a small bag of potting soil, which can be purchased, also at (you guessed it) the K-Mart or Wal-Mart garden section for $1.00 or less. This is the same type of dirt you would purchase to plant most house plants in.
This is the complete equipment list you will need to buy for cultivating mushrooms in your own home, the total cost is under $20.00 and you should have no problem locating any of the items. Everything else you will need, with the exception of spores, can usually be found around the house and is listed below:
* Small Knife: This can be any small sharp knife that has a pointed end on the blade. It will be used to scrape the spores from the sporeprint into the jars.
* Bleach: This will be used to sterilize the work area. Lysol spray is excellent for this task but bleach is 1/10 of the price and also it is non-flammable.
* Water: This can be tap water, distilled water, drinking water, spring water or filtered water. The only water we can't use is water that has been softened using a salt water softener or saltwater itself.
* Large Pot with Lid: This just needs to be what it sounds like, a large pot with a lid on it. The larger the better but as long as it is high enough to put the lid on with the canning jars inside it is fine. This will be used to boil (sterilize) the jars in.
This is the first, and most important step in the process. What we will be doing here is mixing the substrate, which is the nutritional food for your plant, and putting it into the individual jars. These jars are then boiled in a covered pot of water to sterilize and kill any germs or spores that may have gotten inside. After being removed from the boiling pot and allowed to cool down, these jars are then opened and some spores are scraped inside from the sporeprint and the lid is replaced. This is all there is to it.
Step 1: Remove the jars from the box they were purchased in, wash them in warm soapy water, rinse well and dry. In a large mixing bowl measure 2-2/3 cups of "organically produced" brown rice flour and eight cups of vermiculite. Mix these two ingredients together with a large spoon until they are well combined, then add 2-2/3 cups of *water and continue mixing until everything is equally combined and there are no dry spots. Spoon this mixture loosely (do not pack tight) into 12 one half pint or 6 one pint canning jars equally. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a paper towel and put the lids on them (the rubber seal facing down).
* ADDITION April 23, 2000 : This additional step is not necessary, but it will help your crop to produce up to 25% more shrooms. If you take one cup of the water and before you add it to the dry mix in the bowl bring it to a boil in the microwave. When you take it out of the microwave, while it is still hot, immediately stir in one teaspoon of honey (any kind). Then you add the water to the dry mix in the bowl (along with the rest of the water) and stir as directed. What this honey does is add more nutrients and dextrose (sugar) to your substrate which is just more FOOD for the mycelium to consume (meaning more shrooms).
Note from Nan: I do not advise adding sugar to substrate, this practice results in many failed germinations & slowed jar colonizations.
Step 2: Right before you place your jars into the pot or pressure cooker you will need to *loosen the lids slightly to prevent the jars from cracking during the boiling cycle. Place as many jars as will fit into the pot (standing up) without forcing. Slowly add water to the pot until the level comes up halfway on the jars. Place the pot on a burner and bring it slowly to a boil using medium high heat. Put the lid on the pot, reduce heat to medium low to keep a low boil going and leave it alone for 20 minutes. When the 20 minutes are up remove the pot from the heat and "leave the lid on" until the pot is warm to the touch without burning your hand (do not be tempted to peek under the lid). When the pot is warm to the touch, remove the lid, quickly remove each jar and tighten the lids down immediately (see 5/27/00 addition below), this is to keep invading spores from entering the jars through the loose lids. If you could not fit all twelve jars in the pot at one time, you can now repeat this process as many times as it takes to get all of your jars sterilized.
*ADDITION May 27, 2000 : If the jars you purchased have the two piece metal lids (disc and ring) you do not need to leave them loose, so go ahead and tighten them down now before boiling. They are called self sealing lids. The lids you must leave loose are the glass or ceramic lids.
Step 3: Once you have all of your jars sterilized and allowed to cool down to room temperature (just sit them on a shelf *overnight) it is time to place the spores inside. This is the point in the process where you just use common sense when it comes to being sterile. Since the air is full of millions of spores all around you and it is almost impossible to get rid of them, the next best thing you can do is to kill them. Find a small room that is fairly clean, a kitchen is fine, where you will be wanting to do your transfer of spores. Turn off all fans, heaters and air conditioners so the air in the room is sitting still. On a clean counter or table place the following items:
* ADDITION May 12, 2000 : It is a good idea to let your jars sit on a shelf for three days (after sterilizing, but before adding the spores) to make sure that all contaminates in the jars were destroyed during the boiling process. After the three days are up,and if you don't see any mold growing inside your jars, it is a safe sign to proceed with your spore inoculation. This three day wait is not really necessary, but it is better to find out if your jars are sterile before you add the spores than to find out later and possibly lose your spores to a foreign contaminate.
* A small pointed knife (if using a sporeprint)
* A cigarette lighter (if using a sporeprint)
* A push pin thumbtack (if using a spore syringe)
* A roll of tape (if using a spore syringe)
* A spray bottle filled with a 50/50 mixture of water and bleach.
* The sterilized substrate jars you prepared earlier.
* The sporeprint (or spore syringe) you will be using.
* Wash and dry your hands.
Step 4: Adjust the nozzle on the bleach/water spray bottle to a fine mist and spray the air in the room to kill any airborne bacteria and spores*. After the mist has settled for a few minutes it is time to inoculate (plant seeds in) the jars. Note: If you are going to inoculate with a spore syringe, skip the rest of Step 4 and go now to Step 4A. While you are doing this it is a good idea to either hold your breath or tie a scarf over your mouth and nose so you don't breathe germs into the jars while the lids are off (about 15 seconds each). Use the cigarette lighter to heat the point of the knife till it is red hot and then let it cool back down to room temperature which should take a couple minutes. Making slow moves, to keep from causing a breeze, you can now take the lid off of the first jar and lie it upside down on top of one of the other jars. Open the sporeprint and hold it at a sharp angle over the open jar and with the tip of the knife scrape a small amount of spores on top of the substrate in the jar, replace and tighten the lid. Breathe. Repeat this process until you have inoculated all twelve jars. As far as how many spores to use; If you can see any spores fall into the jar, that is sufficient. It usually takes an area of sporeprint about the size of a match head to inoculate each jar. Move on to Step 5.
* ADDITION April 23, 2000 : It is a good idea to cover your sporeprint with an upside down bowl before spraying the bleach/water in the room. The bleach/water can kill the spores if it is allowed to get on the sporeprint. After you spray the room please wait a couple minutes before removing the bowl covering the sporeprint, this will give the spray time to settle in the room. It is also a good idea to wear light color clothing since the spraying of the bleach water could possibly spot dark clothing.
Step 4A: First you will need to take the thumbtack and poke a small hole in the center of the first jar lid (without removing the lid from the jar). Carefully stick the syringe needle at an angle into the hole you just made and squirt about 3/4cc of spore solution between the glass side of the jar and the substrate. Remove the syringe needle from the hole and immediately place a piece of tape over the hole to protect your substrate from any foreign contaminates entering your jar through the hole. Continue this process until all of you substrate jars have been inoculated with spore solution.
Step 5: Place the twelve jars on a shelf in a closet, under your bed or in a dresser drawer and leave them alone for three weeks. You can look in on them if you wish from time to time to check their progress but "never" take off, or even loosen the lid. The progress you are looking for is a pure white mold growing on the surface of the substrate in the jar. This is the mycelium (mushroom plant) which will one day put out lots of fruits we call mushrooms. If any color of mold is noticed growing in the jars other than the snow white color of the mycelium, that jar is contaminated and *sometimes must be destroyed. All that means is you have to dump the jar out, wash it over and use it again. The jars you purchased can be used dozens of times, over and over. These jars of mycelium will grow in almost any temperature in your house as long as it is comfortable for you, usually that is somewhere in the high 60's to the high 70's. This white mycelium will first start growing on the top surface of the substrate and then begin working its way down the sides of the jar. When it has grown to a point that it is touching the bottom of the jar in at least one place it is time to case the jars, which forces the mycelium to fruit.
* ADDITION April 23, 2000 : A contaminated jar is not necessarily a lost jar. I recommend that if you see a foreign mold (any color other than white) growing inside your jar, just leave it alone for a while. Most of the time when these two molds meet (your mycelium and the contaminate) your mycelium will kill the contaminate and your jar will survive. If the contaminate takes over and kills the mycelium, then it is time to dump the jar out.
In this phase of the process we will be going over how to introduce the mature mycelium to soil in preparation for fruiting. It is a very easy process and the sterility is not of great importance anymore because the mycelium in your jars is mature at this point and is fairly strong and capable of fighting off most invading spores and bacteria on its own from this point on.
Step 1: The supplies you need to get together for this step are, the potting soil, the vermiculite (you should have a lot left over), a spray bottle of plain water, a large mixing bowl, a large spoon, your plastic trays and the substrate jars with the mycelium growing in them. Make sure you have all of these supplies in one place before you begin the next step.
Step 2: In the mixing bowl, add 1-1/2 cups of potting soil and 1-1/2 cups of vermiculite. Mix these ingredients together using the large spoon until they are well combined. Using the spray bottle of plain water, lightly spray the mixture and mix with the large spoon several times until the mixture is moistened to field capacity, meaning that if you take a handful of this mixture in your hand and squeeze it into a ball it will hold its shape but no water will drip out. We want the mixture moist but not saturated.
Step 3: Pour the soil/vermiculite/water mixture into one of the trays and spread it level on the bottom (at least one inch deep). Remove the lids from three of your substrate/mycelium jars and dump the contents on top of the soil mixture on the bottom of the tray. Using freshly washed hands, crumble the mycelium/substrate cakes into small pieces (about the size of marbles) and spread them out into an even layer on top of the soil/vermiculite layer.
Step 4: Put 3 cups of plain potting soil into the mixing bowl. Using the spray water bottle and the large spoon, spray and mix back and forth until your soil as reached the field capacity stage (as described in step 2). Pour this into the tray on top of the crumbled mycelium/substrate cakes and spread level with the spoon. What you should have now is a three layer sandwich. Bottom layer being soil/vermiculite, center layer being crumbled up mycelium/substrate cakes and top layer being plain premoistened soil. Put the lid on the tray and repeat this process with your other jars and trays until you have all of your jars cased.
Step 5: Place these filled and covered trays in a closet, under your bed or in a dresser drawer and leave them alone for seven days at room temperature. They do not require any light during this time, but if they do get light it is alright, its just not necessary.
This is the last and final phase of the cultivation process; it is also the easiest and most fun because it is the actual growing and picking of the mushrooms themselves. We have now waited five or six weeks to get to this point and I know that everyone is excited about finally being able to see the fruits of their labor.
Step 1: It is now time to remove the lids from your trays and let the plants breathe some fresh air. By now you should have a white fungi (mold) growing across the surface of the soil. This is your mature mycelium looking for a place to have its babies (mushrooms). Remove the lids from your trays and put them away, we will no longer need them until it is time to reuse the trays for another crop.
Step 2: Using your spray bottle of water, saturate the surface of the soil with 10 to 12 good pumps of water. You want the soil to be fairly wet, but not to the point that your plants will be sitting in still water. The layer on the bottom of your tray (soil/vermiculite) should be able to absorb most overwatering and release it back into the soil as needed.
Step 3: Continue watering the surface once or twice daily as needed. It will not take very long to be able to know when your trays need watering - when the surface is dry, it needs more water. They seem to need more water during the cold months because of the dry air in your home produced by your heater. If you have to miss a day of watering your trays for some reason, you can just lie the lid back on top of the tray, leaving about a one inch gap so air can circulate, right after you water it. This will allow your mycelium to breathe but at the same time reduce evaporation.
Step 4: Within a short time of removing your lids, one day to one week, you should have several mushrooms popping up out of each tray. When these mushrooms start to open up and break the veil under the cap, they are ready for harvest. Just reach in and grasp the stem as close to the soil as possible and give a twist, it will pop right out.
Step 5: This is not a step, just a reminder to keep spraying, and keep harvesting, until the tray no longer is producing shrooms (one to two months). When your mycelium finally quits producing shrooms you can dump out your tray, wash it and reuse it over and over. Well, that is my method. It is really easier to do than most people think. If you have any questions about this procedure you can check out my "faq" section by clicking here . If you don't find your answers there, feel free to e-mail your questions to me and I will answer them to the best of my ability.
"MAKING A SPOREPRINT"
I believe everyone who cultivates mushrooms should make sporeprints, for their own private use in growing future crops and also to pass onto others who are willing to try their hand at the growing process.
1.) Take a clean washcloth and spread it out in a place it will not be disturbed for 24 hours, I just put mine on my dresser top.
2.) Now take a 3 x 5 Index Card and put it on a cookie sheet in an oven for 10 minutes that has been preheated to 200 degrees.
3.) Remove the index card from the oven and let it cool down for a few minutes.
4.) Take the index card and lie it on top of the washcloth.
5.) Take a "fresh" mushroom that has a fully opened cap and cut the stem off of it as close to the cap as possible.
6.) Lie the cap, gills facing down, on top of one half of the index card and cover with an inverted bowl or cup.
7.) Leave this alone for 24 hours (48 hours if you want an excellent print). As the mushroom cap dries it will drop its spores onto the index card.
8.) When the waiting time is over you can remove the inverted bowl or cup and slowly pick up the mushroom cap. What you should see is a beautiful sporeprint on the index card where the mushroom cap was; I like to think of this as God's fingerprint because it resembles one.
9.) Fold the index card in half, enclosing the sporeprint, and put tape around the edges to seal. This will prevent any foreign spores from entering your print and also prevent any of your spores from getting out.
At this time I should mention that I place my shroom cap on one side of the index card so that when I fold it in half I won't be folding the actual sporeprint itself. A print made this way will last for many years without any refrigeration, I place mine between the pages of a book, that way only I know the best books to read (he-he).
A lot of people write to me and ask me the purpose of the washcloth. It is so that a small amount of air can seep under the bowl and help draw the humidity out of the mushroom cap. It is the moisture in the fresh mushroom cap that the spores are stuck to, and as the shroom cap dries out the spores will be released and fall on the index card. After you make your sporeprint, if the mushroom cap still looks fresh and the sporeprint you made is very dark in color, you can place the same mushroom cap on another sterilized index card and leave it there for 48 more hours (using the same process) and hopefully get another dark sporeprint from it.
Note from Nan: I do not like this Tek, some of the information provided here is going to cause you problems. Go with the Simple Cubie Tek
|By Kevin Smith (Canshroom) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 07:56 am:|
I read another tek (I forget where, but most of it was junk) where they suggested taking half of the water for the jars, nuking it, dissolving a little honey in it, and then adding it and the other half of the water to the jars as per usual. The theory was that the honey gives a boost to the mycilia and the shrooms. Has anyone tried this or does anyone have thoughts about it? I think they suggested a teaspoon or tablespoon per twelve jars.
|By Kaijan (Kaijan) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 08:04 am:|
waste of time. dont bother.
you'll also run the risk of getting contams much
easier with those sugars your adding.
|By Nan (Nanook) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 08:45 am:|
I want to find out where you read this (It's not here) and corrupt the file. People pop in here and suggest using Honey as an additive for PF jars and then I have to deal with the results (over & over). The number one complaint is failed spore germination. "Why aren't my jars growing?" "What slowed them down?" "Why did my jars fail?"
Sound like a club you want to join?
Read about this in Additives, scroll down and get the real dirt on this practice.
|By Kevin Smith (Canshroom) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 02:11 pm:|
Nan...just found out where I saw it. It's in Shroom Wizards tek which I had found before I found this place (the tek didn't work, by the way). There's a link to the tek in the archives, so you can axe it if you want to. Cheers.
|By Nan (Nanook) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 06:41 pm:|
Good enough... I won't axe the Tek, but I will de-corrupt the file with an edit
I never link anybody to that Tek... Grrrrrr
|By Nan (Nanook) on Friday, December 28, 2001 - 09:11 pm:|
OK, I added a bold note to our text version of this Tek
This Tek also tells people it's Ok to sub pure Soy Flour for BRF... Another bad idea imo...
Thanks for pointing this out, I really appreciate it
|By Imok Urok2 (Imok) on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 04:57 am:|
Nan, we learn as we grow right?
|By Nan (Nanook) on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 05:19 am:|
I certainly hope so! I mean otherwise what's the point right? But it just bugs me to no end to see bad Tek in the Archives... I mean I can really, really tell that the Archives are being used... All of you old hands here have surely seen the dramatic drop in the routine tedious newbie questions... And the questions I am seeing are better informed, most (nearly all) reflecting knowledge gleaned from the archived material.
But then I was seeing questions about the Ramsey Seal, adding Honey to PF substrate... So I try hard to track down the source and edit to improve the overall accuracy... Fine tuning as I think of it. I tell you, when I miss something down there, it does not take long and somebody is pointing it out... Which is simply excellent imo.
|By Fishy1 (Fishy1) on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 05:33 am:|
ya run a tight ship here Nan....thanks bro.
|By Nan (Nanook) on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 05:41 am:|
Why thank you for the complement Fishy... It's the only compensation I get other than knowing I have done my very best.
|By Kevin Smith (Canshroom) on Saturday, December 29, 2001 - 06:00 am:|
No problem, Nan. It was the first tek I tried, but nothing came of it. I think the recipe for the subtrate is slightly off. Anyway, I'm using PF tek now and I pleased to say that the results are much better.