These directions are for the indoor cultivation of a species of mushrooms called Psilocybe cubensis. Unless informed otherwise, if you buy magic mushrooms that were produced indoors, Psilocybe cubensis is probably the species you are dealing with.
It is the intent of this document to enable the first time mushroom grower to succeed in producing their own supply of Psilocybe cubensis, at a minimal cost and with a minimal amount of effort.
The initial cash outlay will be about $100 to $250 (US), and the expected yield is several ounces of dried mushrooms. After your first crop, later generations of mushrooms can be grown with even less cost and effort.
--- Growing Cycle
--- Drying, Preserving
--- Dosage And Ingesting
--- Getting A Spore Syringe
--- Getting Stuff
--- Growing In Bulk
--- List Of Adaptations
The procedures detailed in this document were invented by Robert (Billy) McPherson, also known as Psylocybe Fanaticus. Prior to his work, growing Psilocybe mushrooms was next to impossible for a beginner.
However, the Psylocybe Fanaticus Technique (PF Tek) was the break through that made the nearly impossible, possible. Robert succumbed to hepatitis C and passed away in 2011.
Robert (Billy) McPherson.
Born: August 18, 1946 (Orangeburg, South Carolina).
Died: November 19, 2011 (Aberdeen, WA).
The MMGG Author and other innovators have also contributed to adaptations that show the grower, how he or she might make changes to the PF Tek to suit his or her needs and resources.
This document may be freely copied and distributed so long as the following conditions are met:
--- Any copies of this document must include this notice.
--- This document can not be distributed for profit.
--- This document must be credited to Psylocybe Fanaticus for being the inventor of the PF Tek, and MMGG Author for adapting the PF Tek.
Some plants will start their life cycle from a seed. The life cycle of the Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms you are growing will be initiated with mushroom spores that are held in a syringe.
Instead of growing in soil like plants can, these mushrooms will rely on a substrate of vermiculite and brown rice flour that have been hydrated with water to provide the moisture and nutrients they will need to grow.
The brown rice flour provides the nutrients and the vermiculite holds and releases moisture. Prior to injecting the spores into it, the substrate is put in canning jars and sterilized with heat.
Sterilization is very important because the substrate contains no preservatives and can easily be overrun by any mold or bacteria that is present. If this happens they are ruined.
After the jars cool, they are inoculated (injected) with mushroom spores using a syringe. This part of the cycle will cost about $50 to $100. If you inoculate 10 jars, expect to yield several ounces of dried mushrooms.
After the substrate is inoculated, you wait until it is colonized completely by the fungus. While waiting for the substrate to colonize completely, no effort is required except monitoring them to make sure everything is as it should be.
This typically takes between two and three weeks to complete. When completely colonized, the substrate is placed in a fruiting chamber (terrarium) where warm temperatures and high humidity are available to the fungus.
Once the substrate is colonized completely by the fungus, sterility is a bit less of a concern at this point because the fungus is more able to fight off invaders and the rice cake substrate can be removed from the jar.
The terrarium is kept at around 90% humidity and the carbon dioxide that is produced by the fungus is constantly eliminated. Within a week of being placed in the terrarium, the rice cakes will start growing mushrooms.
Within several weeks of being placed in the terrarium, the cultivator will have numerous mature mushrooms ready for consumption.
The cakes continue to produce mushrooms until either the nutrients in the rice cake are used up or the moisture in the rice cake is depleted.
Depending on how the cultivator chooses to implement the terrarium, more or less attention is required at this phase in the cycle.
Mushrooms are grown on a substrate of nutrients. Just as a common house plant is grown in a pot of soil, mushrooms can be grown on a cake of substrate material.
The big difference is that with mushrooms the substrate must be free of competing bacteria and molds in order for the process to be successful. Any contamination of the substrate will result in failure of the process.
--- Aluminum foil (description).
--- Measuring cups (description).
--- Mixing bowl (description).
--- Mixing spoon description).
--- Large pot (description).
--- Drill (description).
--- Vermiculite (description).
--- Brown rice flour (description).
--- Canning jars (description.
--- Spore syringe (description).
This is a segment from the dvd let's grow mushrooms!. The video clip shows steps 1 to 7 described below. This may make things easier to understand for someone following directions in this guide.
The let's grow mushrooms! dvd covers growing mushrooms with the brown rice method presented in this guide, as well as growing mushrooms on grain, straw, manure, sawdust, or wood chips. In addition it covers making spore prints and spore syringes.
Prepare the tops of the culture jars so that they can be in place, on the jars when inoculating the jars with the needle of the spore syringe.
Part of the reason this system works so well in the non-sterile kitchen environment is the fact that the sterilized substrate is never exposed to airborne contaminants.
It is best to utilize a drill or drill press for this procedure, but some people use a small nail to hammer 1/8 inch holes in the lid of each canning jar. See the following figure:
Decide how many jars you want to use. The rice flour and vermiculite are cheap enough that it makes sense to prepare 10 jars. A 10 cc spore syringe will be enough to inoculate 10 jars.
You may have some jars destroyed by contamination and some jars colonize quicker than others. For each 1/2 pint jar that you will be using, you will need:
--- 2/3 cup = 5.3 fluid ounces = 156 ml of vermiculite.
--- 1/4 cup = 2 fluid ounces = 59 ml of water.
--- 1/4 cup = 2 fluid ounces = 59 ml of brown rice flour.
Do not confuse fluid ounces with avoirdupois (avdp) ounces. Fluid ounces are units of volume and can be calculated with a measuring cup. Avoirdupois ounces are units of weight.
Put the vermiculite in a mixing bowl and add the water. Then mix them together thoroughly. When that is done, thoroughly mix in the brown rice flour. You will end up with a nice fluffy substrate.
This mixture is the substrate material that the mushrooms will consume and use for growth and moisture. Before being mixed together, the raw ingredients of the substrate can be sterilized separately to further reduce any contaminants (adaptation-23).
The next step is to fill each jar with substrate material (adaptation-20). It has been found that keeping the substrate as loose and full of air as possible is the best way to fill the jars. The jars will colonize faster this way.
Incidentally, the faster the jar colonizes, the lower the risk that some competitor contamination will get a foot hold and take over the substrate (adaptation-3). Fill each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top with substrate material.
The amount of substrate produced should leave you with a bit of leftover after all the jars are filled. If you run out, mix up a bit more or cannibalize 1 jar to fill up the rest. Make sure the substrate is no higher than 1/2 inch from the top of the jars.
The top 1/2 inch of the glass on each culture jar needs to be cleaned. No substrate material can be left on the glass above the substrate. First wipe it with your finger to get the bulk of the material off of it and then do a thorough job with a moistened paper towel.
Moistening the paper towel with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol prior to cleaning off the top 1/2 inch of glass is a good idea. The glass needs to be spotless. The reason this is necessary is that bacteria and mold can use any material left there as a wick to infect the main substrate body.
When all jars are filled with substrate, fill the top 1/2 inch of the each culture jar with dry vermiculite. This layer is pure, simple, dry vermiculite. Nothing else. Fill the jar level with the glass top edge.
This layer is a break through pioneered by Psylocybe Fanaticus. What this layer does is insulate the sterilized substrate from any airborne contamination.
This layer gets sterilized with the substrate later and airborne molds and bacteria can not (usually) get through it to contaminate the substrate. At the same time, it allows some gas exchange to occur. The fungus needs oxygen, and gasses like oxygen can filter through the vermiculite.
Now, place the jar lids with the 4 holes in them on top of the jars. Normally, the jar lids have a rubber seal that is placed in contact with the glass of the jar. Most growers place the rubber seal so it contacts the lid, rather than the glass.
The reason is that some people find when the rubber seal is in contact with glass, it makes too tight of a seal. This does not seem to be an issue for everyone. If you wish to follow tradition, place the rubber seal facing the upper side of the lid.
Screw the lid down tight. Note that you need to have the four holes poked in the lid before putting the lids on, as described in Step 1. Otherwise you can have real problems when you heat these jars up!
Next, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top of each jar and crumple it around the sides of the jar. This is to keep water drops from going in the four holes in the lid while the jar is being sterilized.
If you poked your holes in the lid such that the sharp edges are pointing up, be careful not to rip or puncture the tin foil. If you need to, you can add an extra piece of tin foil to make sure water will not drip into the holes in the lid.
You can put surgical tape over all of the holes, before putting the aluminum on, this will ensure no water gets in. Surgical tape is breathable, it allows air to pass through, keeping pressure from building up inside the jars, while keeping water out.
This segment from the dvd let's grow mushrooms! covers sterilization, inoculating, colonization of the substrate. The video clip shows steps 8 to 12 described below.
It shows inoculating in a glove box to reduce chances of contamination. If you plan on growing mushrooms long-term, you will probably want to make a glovebox.
Most people who are trying to grow mushrooms for the first time do not use a glovebox. If you do not use one, be sure to keep the area you inoculate in especially clean and sterilized.
If you experience problems with contamination, you might want to try again but using a glovebox the second time. Some growers are able to get by without one while others require one for satisfactory results.
Now the canning jars filled with substrate need to be sterilized. The jars should not sit flat on the bottom of the pot, they should be raised so they are above, and do not directly touch, the water. Steam will sterilize them.
Place marbles, rocks, jar lids, or some other material inside the pot and set the canning jars on them. This will keep water from boiling up and entering the holes in the top of the jars.
It will also prevent too much heat from transferring to the jars and possibly cracking them. Too much direct heat can also transfer directly to the jars and cause a loss of moisture.
Add water to the pot so it comes to a level where it will be just below the bottom of the jars. When that is done, place the canning jars in the pot.
Bring the water to a slow boil and place the lid on the pot. From the time the water starts to boil, the jars need at least 60, and preferably 90 minutes, to be sterilized. Add water if necessary to keep the pot from boiling off all the water and drying.
Water should not be bubbling and splashing all over the place. The jars should not be floating around in the water. The substrate in the culture jars has the right amount of water in it already. You do not want water leaking into the jars and changing the ratio.
Let the jars cool slowly. Leave them covered in the pan that was used to sterilize them. Let them cool completely. The jars need to be at or close to room temperature in order to inoculate.
The spores will be killed if the jars are not cool enough when they are inoculated. It will take several hours to cool sufficiently. You may hear sounds as the jars cool. This is normal.
Now comes the good part, inoculation of the culture jars with mushroom spores. Assuming you have a viable, sterile spore syringe, you are now in a position to inoculate the cultures and start the first phase of the growing cycle.
The needle of the spore syringe must be sterile, if not you will contaminate every jar you inoculate with it. Use a cigarette lighter or alcohol lamp (if you have one) to heat the needle.
Heat it until it glows red, then shake the syringe to mix the spores. Preform this operation of heating the needle on the syringe, to sterilize it, before every jar you inoculate.
Remove the tin foil from each culture jar as you prepare to inoculate it. If you put surgical tape over the holes, poke a hole through the tape with the syringe.
Insert the needle of the syringe as deep as it will go into a hole in the lid of the culture jar, and get the needle to press against the glass.
Examine the next figure for a simple diagram of how things should look. A 10 cc spore syringe is sufficient to inoculate a dozen jars if you inject slightly less than 1 cc in each jar.
Once each jar is inoculated, it is ready for incubation. Put tape over the holes in the lid to keep out any contaminants. Surgical tape works best for this purpose, while some people utilize masking tape
This is the easy part. Put the culture jars in a dark place at temperatures between 80 and 85 degrees (fahrenheit) and wait. The fungus will first appear as little splotches of white fuzzy stuff at the inoculation sites (temperature information).
As the time goes by, the fungus will spread throughout the jar. Eventually, the entire surface of the glass will be covered with fungus. Typically, the bottom of the jar is the last area to be colonized. Be on the look out for any contamination.
Any odd colors that might appear are contamination and the jar must be thrown out. Do not take any chances. If you think the jar might be contaminated, throw it out!. Some molds and bacteria produce toxins that can kill you.
Just because a mushroom is growing on the opposite side of the cake from the contamination does not mean you are safe. The mycelium network carries nutrients and moisture to the mushrooms from far away and can easily pick up the toxins and bring them to the mushroom.
The fact that you are using this guide means you are not an experienced mycologist. You do not know which molds and bacteria are deadly. Do not take a chance.
The one exception to the previous statements is the mycelium will some times change from a bright white to a very pale yellow if it has water droplets touching it on the side of the glass.
It is very unusual for any area that is colonized by the mushroom fungus to become infected while in the jar. The uncolonized areas of the substrate are usually significantly more prone to infection.
The above pictures show a typical germination and colonization cycle. If your spores are old, or the temperature is not optimum, or you did not mix the substrate very accurately you can easily add a week to the above time frames.
The cake must stay in the jar until the entire surface area is covered with mycelium. As the substrate gets more colonized, the growth slows down. This is a result of CO2 building up and less oxygen being available for the fungus to consume (adaptation-7).
The cakes can not be taken out of the jars while there is still uncolonized substrate (adaptation-8).
Once a rice cake is fully colonized, it can be taken out of the culture jar (adaptation-9). At this point, there are no areas on the substrate that can easily be infected by competitor molds and bacteria.
Once the mycelium is established, it can usually prevent other organisms from gaining a foot hold and destroying the rice cake (adaptation-10).
Unscrew the lid and remove it from the top of the canning jars. Scrape all the loose vermiculite on the top of the substrate into the garbage.
Turn the jar upside down and see if the cake drops out, if not you might have to tap the jar against something like a table top to loosen the rice cake until it slides out of the jar.
The rice cakes will typically shrink a little during the colonization phase of the process and will come out of the jars easily with a little tapping on a table top.
Take care not to gouge into the substrate material as this can leave areas open to infection. You can rinse the colonized cake under tap water to get all the vermiculite, and other material off of the cake.
The rice cakes can be dunked and rolled (see the next section of the guide for more info) then placed into the terrarium. It is assumed that you have a fully functional and checked out terrarium setup at this point.
You can handle the cakes but remember that the less you handle them and the more gently you handle them, the better off they will be. Also, you should wash your hands thoroughly and be sure to rinse with water just as thoroughly to remove any soap before touching the cakes.
If you have disposable sterile gloves available, it isn't a bad idea to use them. You can get away without using them, but they are a good idea. Contamination is the mushroom growers worst enemy.
The next step in how to grow magic mushrooms is the terrarium, which is located in the next section of this guide.
Grow Magic Mushrooms Index
--- Growing Cycle
--- Drying, Preserving
--- Dosage And Ingesting
--- Getting A Spore Syringe
--- Getting Stuff
--- Growing In Bulk
--- List Of Adaptations