Kalyx Casing Technique


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The Casing Technique
for Increased Mushroom Production


Mushroom spawn: Definition: the mycelium, or primary filamentous growth, of the mushroom; also cakes of earth and compost/manure containing this growth, which are used for propagation of the mushroom.

The Life Cycle of a Cultivated Mushroom:

First, one must grow the spawn of the mycelium. Grain such as rye is often used for this task. While the spawn is starting to grow, composting of the manure takes place. Components such as manure, straw, chicken droppings, and/or turkey droppings can all be added to the mixture (but not acidic pine needles). Once this compost reaches the proper temperature, mushrooms growers will add the spawn to the nutrient-rich compost.

In turn, the mycelium will run all throughout the compost eagerly digesting the organic material. In order to coerce the fungus into creating mushrooms, a low-nutrient casing is placed on top of the compost. Thinking it is about to run out of food, the fungus will produce fruiting bodies (mushrooms) to disperse spores. When just the right time has come, harvesters will come along and cut the mushrooms away from the mycelium.

What you will need:
Hand Spray Bottle
Grow Chamber with Cover
(Horse or Cow Manure, Compost/Manure mix, Peatmoss or Coco Fiber)
Water: Spring water only.
(This will be used to help control any green mold that might sneak up on you.)

'Casing' is a very easy process and the sterility is not of great importance anymore because the mycelium in your jars has matured and is capable of fighting off most invading spores and bacteria on its own. Proceed with common sense and cleanliness!

Step 1:
The supplies you need to get together for this step are, compost/manure, vermiculite, a spray bottle of Spring Water, a large mixing bowl, a large metal (not wood) spoon, your growing chamber and the fully colonized substrate jars of mycelium. Make sure you have all of these supplies in one place before you begin the next step.

Step 2:
Mix 1 part Peroxide with 20-part Spring Water. Place it into the spray bottle and sit it aside. This liquid mixture will help with the controlling of contamination within the compost/manure.

Step 3:
In the mixing bowl, add 1-part compost/manure to 1-part vermiculite (50/50). Try 3 cups of each to start with. If this is not enough mix then, by all means, mix some more. If you have any dry mix left you can place it into a Ziploc baggy and save it for another day. Mix these ingredients together using the large spoon until they are well combined. Using the spray bottle of the Peroxide and Spring water, lightly spray the mixture and stir it until the compost/manure 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 4:
Pour the mixture into the growing chamber and spread it level on the bottom (at least one inch deep) with your CLEAN HANDS (use anti-bacterial soap). Remove the lids from one of your colonized substrate jar and dump the 'cakes' on top of the compost/manure mixture on the bottom of the chamber. Using freshly washed hands (2nd washing w/soap), crumble the cake into small pieces (about the size of marbles) and spread it evenly onto the compost/manure. If you need to apply a second, or third colonized jar in order to finish the layering, then do it. Best to have a little much then not enough.

Step 5:
Put 3-6 cups of plain compost/manure into a clean mixing bowl. Using the spray water/Peroxide bottle and the large spoon, spray and mix until your compost/manure has reached the field capacity stage (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). Pour this onto the crumbled cakes and spread level with the spoon. You want to have about 1/2-inch of even compost/manure when finished. What you should have now is a three layer sandwich. Bottom layer being compost/manure/vermiculite, center layer being crumbled up mycelium/substrate cakes and top layer being plain pre-moistened compost/manure. Put the plastic lid on the growing chamber.

Step 6:
Place the growing chamber into a closet or under your bed and leave it alone for 7-10 days at room temperature. It does not require any light during this time, but if they do get light it is fine, just not necessary. As the white mycelium begins growing through the compost/manure it should resemble the picture below.


Step 1:
It is now time to remove the lid from your growing chamber and let the compost/manure breathe some extra fresh air. By now you should have a white fungi (mold) growing across the surface of the compost/manure. This is your mature mycelium looking for a place to have its babies (mushrooms). Remove the lid from your chamber and put it away.

Step 2:

Using your spray bottle of Spring Water, saturate the surface of the compost/manure. You want the compost/manure to be fairly wet, but not to the point that your white mycelium will be sitting in stagnant water puddles. The layer on the bottom of your tray (compost/manure/vermiculite) should be able to absorb most over watering and release it back into the compost/manure 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 chambers 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 for some reason, you can lay the lid back onto the growing chamber for a day to allow the surface to re-hydrate.

Step 4:
Within a short time of removing your lid, one day to one week, you should have several mushrooms popping up. 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 compost/manure 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 chamber is no longer producing mushrooms (one to two months).

Contamination of Green Mold!

Note the green discoloration. This is our enemy!

This is a fact of life for the mushroom grower. Green mold is a common contaminate that can find its way into your growing chamber quite easily. The key to winning this battle is quick and precise counter measures. The INSTANT you see green on your casing compost get it out of there! Flame a spoon or heat it as much as possible from your stove top. Quickly open the chamber and scoop it out and close the chamber lid. Re-heat the spoon EVERY TIME it has to enter the growing chamber.

Mix 1-part Peroxide with 20-parts Spring Water and place it in a spray bottle. Spray the newly cleaned area until it is nice and soaked. Try to keep the mixture contained to the immediate area as much as possible.

If you find that you that you were forced to take away much of the casing compost, just place some DRY CASING over top of that area and begin spraying with the solution. Do your best to contain and stay on top of the green mold until it is completely gone or it becomes a losing battle.

Another Casing Recipe:

Using peat moss, lime flour, and a baking pan or tinfoil

This recipe is for 1 tray's worth of casing (using a 1'x2' tray about 1" thick casing). The amounts can be increased to make larger batches.

To begin, add about 10 cups of peat moss to a large kitchen bowl. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of hydrated lime flour. Mix together dry. Next, add water and mix in. Peat moss will soak up an amazing amount of water. Keep adding water and thoroughly mixing it in ( by hand) until you can squeeze a handful and get a small trickle of water to run out of it.

Put the wetted casing material into your baking pan or tin and cover tightly with tinfoil. Next, put it in the oven and bake at 300 F for 1 1/2 hrs. When it's done, let it sit overnight to completely cool. And it's ready to use.

Shroom Glossary