Pslio's Bulk Worm Compost/Straw Tek

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By Nan (Nanook) on Tuesday, October 23, 2001 - 10:57 pm:

PSiLO187's Simple Bulk Spawn Production Tek v.

Worm Dung, Straw, and Grain [Also See: Straw Tek Tips]

I. Grain Spawn 101

Jar Preparation and Assembly:

Ok assuming you have already learned how to cultivate via the PF Tek, lets talk a little bit about jars. The ½ pint will no longer do for production if you are planning on using spawn. The best jars I have found are the ½ gallon wide mouth jars that you can purchase from many different sites on the internet or go to a local hardware store (Ace Hardware has been known to have them). If you cannot find 1/2 gallon jars, the Quart Jars do great also. You will be able to fit 4 ½ gallon jars in most 22quart and larger p/cookers, that is 2 gallons of grain per cook (think about it). Another thing you will be using is either Poly-Fill (synthetic cottony stuffing for pillows) which is available at almost any Wal-Mart or wide mouth filter disks that are sold from Fungi Perfecti (, The Mushroom people (, or Homemade. Many people prefer to buy the plastic lids available at versus the metal lids, either will be fine though.

The first step in creating a new shake jar is to drill a hole in the mason jar lid. Make the hole about the size of the end of your pinky finger (maybe about .4 of an inch). Next you will pull out a hand-full of Poly-Fill and pull it TIGHTLY through the hole. It is a good idea to pull of too much excess Poly-Fill, the only reason it is there is to keep out contams, not fill the whole jar. If you are using filter disks simply make the hole a little larger and put the disk under the mason lid.

Grain Preparation (to be used as spawn)

Now that your jar lids are fully assembled you are now ready to see the beauty of grain spawn. First and foremost you must realize that various grains usually work fine so you will be able to mix and experiment with this as you start growing in this fashion, but to make this tek simple lets just say we are using Rye or Barley.

Ok some people prefer boiling (or steeping rather) their grain, some prefer to soak for a day or more, and some even prefer to just add a given amount of water straight into the jar and pressure cook with the grain. The reason this is done is to hydrate the grain and release endospores that are known to cause contam problems. All of these methods seem to work. Basically you want the grains to have water in them and not have them explode or burst or get too soggy. Using the pressure cooker with no lid or even a bucket does this fine.

Whether you put the grains in hot water (not quite boiling) or soak overnight the main thing you will have to watch out for is starch. After I have prepared the grain by steeping or soaking I ALWAYS THOROUGHLY RINSE all the slimy carbohydrates/starch and funk off of your grains and DRAIN *VERY* THOUROUGHLY before you pressure sterilize your grains. The reason for this is because you will have a fatty caramelized mess in the bottom of your jars when they cool, which prevents the nifty shaking feature of grains jars and slows rhizomorphic Mycelial networking.

Filling the Jars

This is pretty simple. Fill the jars between 3/5 and 3/4 full. The grains will expand as they are sterilized somewhat, depending on how water logged they are. Screw the lids on of course. Put Foil over the lids the same way you would in the PF TEK to keep water out during the pressure sterilization. I recommend using masking tape to hold the foil on, but this may not be necessary, I do it out of habit though.

Sterilizing the Grain

After you have filled the jars you are ready to sterilize the grain. I am sure you have heard about many different times being used to sterilize grain. I have only used one cook time as far as I can remember and I have had success with it so I had no reason to try any other. 70 minutes at 15psi, but when I say 70 minutes I am speaking of AFTER I hear the first small hiss coming out of the pressure cooker. After the 70 minutes is up I take the cooker off the burner and let it cool down (as much as possible) and then take the lid is off the pressure cooker. I prefer to take the jars out of the pressure cooker warm or even HOT to make sure the grains are not sticky and are shakable before the jar cools down. The grains tend to break up easier if the jars are still warm. Let jars cool 100% before going to the next step of course...

II. Inoculating with Liquid Mycelium Inoculant or Grain Transfers

Creating Liquid Inoculant

I have read that alot of people use honey and sugar water to grow mycelium for inoculations. I find this to be more time consuming than I prefer. I actually prefer to Clone strains I like from mushroom tissue, but as this is a simple tek I am leaving all that out (you can do research if interested in cloning with agar, that is a whole other project all together.) When I had no Petri Dishes or cloned mushroom tissue all I did was make water out of pre-existing colonized substrate. The easiest way to do this is to is to put some pebbles, coins, and/or small objects of any sort that are able to sink to the bottom and tear the mycelium once shaken aggressively) into a 1 quart jar full of spring water and sterilize. I poke 1 hole in the side of the lid to draw the water out into the syringes and cover lid with foil as usual. Wrap 1 spoon, 1 fork, and 1 knife (100% metal, no wood) in foil. You will also want to rinse and clean some syringes and needles and wrap them in foil as well, to sterilize them too while you are at it. Most canners come with another rack that can go on top of jars; this is where the wrapped fork n knife will go, out of direct contact with the water.

These sterilized eating utensils are what you will be using to scrape mycelium and drop it into the cool sterilized water. Once everything is cooled down 100% select a good jar of colonized grain, PF-TEK BRF cake, or even birdseed and make sure it is not contamed at all. Turn off your AC/ Heater in your house and spray Lysol EVERYWHERE around where you will be working. And wipe all surfaces as usual. Take the lid of and with the sterilized tool of your preference scrape the layer of vermiculite off if necessary, as it is trash and not colonized. Scoop a healthy few scoops of mycelium colonized substrate into the sterilized water (I use the spoon), and re-attach the lid. The foil I originally covered the lid with in the pcooker I put back on the jar. I place my finger over where the hole is (the foil separates my finger from the water) and I shake like a sick puppy. Never failed me once! The thing to watch out for, though, is using the same strain over and over, generation after generation, and not doing it from a master; this causes the strain to degrade after 3 or so times.

Inoculating with Liquid Inoculant

This is the easiest part. In a very clean environment draw water out of the quart jar containing the liquid inoculant. I pretty much use 1 whole syringe per ½ gallon jar. But make sure that you don't add TOO much water, or your risks of bacterial contams are higher. If using Poly-Fill insert the needle between the side of the lid in the hole and the actual Poly-Fill (Don't insert it smack dab in the middle of all the polyfill material). If using filter disks crack the lid open barely (dont breath in there!) and squirt, squirt, squirt. Viola!

Inoculating with Grain/Substrate Transfer

Simply take sterile colonized substance and transfer it into the virgin spawn. Must be very sterile conditions, use the tools you sterilized. There are teks out on this in detail as well.

Colonizing and Shaking of the Jars

The more you shake the jars is not necessarily the better they will do. Shake the jar once every 2 days or so. Once the grain has mycelium pretty evenly distributed it is time to stop touching the jars all together. They should be colonized within 2 weeks (give or take a little).

III. Creation of Bulk Substrate with Straw and Worm Casting Compost

Okay, this is where all the fun really begins. I have experimented with different types of growing medium and found both wheat straw and worm casting compost to be the best. Both do fine by themselves but worm castings seems to do better than straw. But the straw is so incredibly cheap per bail and the casting compost from costs a bit more because of shipping. So to this my recommendation would be to mix the 2 together. It is very simple.

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 160f. Leave the tins in the oven around about 1hr 30mins. Let cool off completely, 100%.

Inoculating the Worm Dung With Grain Spawn

After the worm castings are pastuerized and cooled off you will now need to inoculate the worm castings with grain (or birdseed) spawn. You will need an opaque container that is large enough to hold the worm castings . It is best to poke some holes in this container and set a paper towel over the hole to prevent stuff from falling in them. Put all the pastuerized worm casting in this container and mix about 2 (or even 3 if you like) 1/2 gallon-sized jars (a total of 1 gallon of spawn) and mix the spawn (colonized substrate) from the jars into the worm dung. Within a few days this will be colonized 100%.

Pasturizing the Straw

First cut the straw as small as you can get it 1"-2" is fine; Shears, scissors, whatever. Get an old pillow case or sheet and put straw in it and tie a string around the top of the pillow case or sheet to hold it all in. Put this pillowcase or sheet that is full of straw in the base
of a large pressure cooker or some other large metal container that can withstand the stove-top. I use a really large metal tub that old timers used to wash cloths in, this fits on all 4 burners on the stove. 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***) 160f. If you go too far over this you are destined to failure. Let it cook in this for 1hr. 30min. 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 1 hr 30min take this out and let it cool off *100%* and make sure that the straw is THOROUGHLY DRAINED.

Mixing Colonized Worm Dung Compost into the Straw 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 pillowcase to a 10 pounds of colonized worm casting compost (they sell them by the 10lb bag at Mix both of the colonized worm casting and the straw into the Rubbermaid Sterilite container. Make sure you compress the straw/dung mixture as much as possible, if it is TOO fluffed out it is not a good thing.

Another adaptation is to take additional colonized worm dung compost and make a pseudo-casing out of the it, this keeps the straw from sticking through the casing layer. Let ALL of this colonize 100%, it wont take long AT ALL. After it is colonized 100% case normally with Gro-Brick Coconut Fiber (or peat/vermiculite). Put a Light on the sterilite lid and soup the tank up however floats your boat. Growing parameters are the same of course. Fyi: The straw mixture in the sterilite container seems to keep humidity optimum without any aditional humidification. Fresh air exchange is all that is needed. Expect a VERY, VERY high yield.

Thanks and good luck.

Straw Tek : Honey/Dextrose Q&A

By Neil Cooper (Phake_Ld) on Friday, December 21, 2001 - 06:05 am:

I know wording is very important here, So I�m going to ask a hypothetical question, and when you guys & gals answer, please start it off with "In theory..." so no one here will potentially incriminate themselves. We are all intelligent thinkers here, and as we all know, theories are propositions used as principles for explanations. Theories are thing that actually haven�t be done yet� With this in mind, My hypothetical question is...

Hypothetically, if one wanted to produce a large amount of mushrooms using quart sized jars, what step-by-step (from preparation of the substrate to crop picking) procedure would one follow to produce the highest yields? And at what stage of growth would one have to pick the mushrooms so that they will be at their heaviest? (for example, would one pick the mushrooms before the veil breaks, or after?) Keep in mind that I am not necessarily making reference to mushrooms containing Psilcoybin.

Remember, please start your response with "In theory..."

Please feel free to email your response to me if you wish. I dont mean to sound selfish with hearing your theories, but emailing me is an option. [email protected]

By quote: (Quote) on Friday, December 21, 2001 - 11:42 pm:

read 'the mushroom cultivator' by stamets.
he outlines in detail the procedure you're interested in, basically quarts of rye spawned to straw.

By jim brown (Shrhobbyist) on Saturday, December 22, 2001 - 03:34 am:

For whatever this theoretical person is doing, he/she should grow for quality instead of weight. Even if you are growing bulk, you shouldn't compromise the mushroom. Asking how to make mushrooms heaviest instead of their best is an insult to many of us...theoretically.

By plinkerdink420 (Plinkerdink420) on Saturday, December 22, 2001 - 04:10 am:

good call..... quality is more important than quantity.. IMO

By Neil Cooper (Phake_Ld) on Saturday, December 22, 2001 - 07:56 pm:

Jim Brown, no insult intended.... Theoretically, I thought that once growth started, the quality would always be the same no matter when you picked it...

By Nan (Nanook) on Saturday, December 22, 2001 - 08:25 pm:

Read Am I harvesting to early?