Several items used by this guide can be more difficult to locate and purchase when compared to the more common items that are listed in the easy to get section below.
Items that might be harder to obtain include vermiculite, organic brown rice flour that is free of preservatives, 1/2 pint tapered canning jars, a terrarium (growing chamber) that is suitable for growing the mushrooms in.
Currently, this section of the magic mushroom grow guide will be most useful to people who reside in the United States, but most countries will have stores that stock these products.
Vermiculite:Vermiculite is a aluminosilicate clay mineral that is mined and heated to expand the particles. It's sterile, soaks up 3-4 times its volume in water.
Vermiculite attracts nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. It provides no water or nutrients, but will retain the moisture and nutrients you add to the substrate.
8-10 quarts of vermiculite will be enough for your first few crops with 1/2 pint canning jars. Many experienced grower recommend fine to medium vermiculite, others prefer coarse particles. All types of vermiculite will work, but you may develop a preference if you experiment with different types.
Organic Brown Rice Flour: 1-2 pounds (16-32 oz) of organic brown rice flour will be enough for your first few crops with 1/2 pint canning jars. Most supermarket varieties are loaded with preservatives. Be sure you get organic brown rice flour with no preservatives.
Because it is organic with no preservatives, the brown rice will be open to insect and bacterial attack, especially if it is stored for any amount of time. Always store organic brown rice in a well sealed light proof plastic bag or container, and keep it in a dry cool area that is well sanitized.
You can obtain organic brown rice flour here. There are various different brands and package sizes available. Be sure to read the specific information about each product. Just because the brown rice is organically grown, might not necessarily mean there are no preservatives in the flour.
1/2 Pint Tapered Canning Jars: Canning jars are usually available at harvest time in autumn, but they may be harder to find at other times of the year. The canning jars needed for this purpose have to be tapered.
With the top of the canning jar larger than the bottom, it is much easier for the colonized substrate to simply slide out of the canning jar when the time is right.
An example of this is these Jarden wide mouth canning jars. They are the 1/2 pint size, tapered so that the top of the jar is about 1/4 inch wider than the bottom.
Try to get the 1/2 pint (8 ounces or 250 ml) size canning jars. See this about using larger canning jars. There are two reasons for utilizing the 1/2 pint size. First, smaller jars colonize faster which means less chance of being contaminated and a quicker harvest.
Second, in this guide the directions for mixing the substrate that will go into the jars, are written assuming that 1/2 pint jars are employed. You can utilize 1 pint tapered jars, but you will have to double the amount of material compared to a 1/2 pint jar.
Terrarium (Growing Chamber): Aquariums, camping coolers, and large plastic storage containers are examples of suitable growing chambers.
I use a clear plastic storage container that measures about 24 inches (width) by 18 inches (tall) by 18 inches (front to back) for 10 cakes. There is more than enough room.
Most department stores have a good selection of plastic storage boxes for a reasonable price. If possible try to get one that is clear on all sides, especially the top. This way you will not have to modify the top with clear plastic to let light in.
Some of the items utilized in this mushroom growing guide can be easy to locate. You probably already have most of the easy to get stuff in your kitchen.
If you do not already have them, they are easy enough to obtain. Most are relatively inexpensive and in no way suspicious when purchased.
They can be bought:
--- At grocery stores.
--- At department stores.
Aluminum Foil: After the substrate has been prepared and placed in canning jars, the canning jars are sealed with aluminum foil to prevent moisture from entering the holes in the top. It is important to get this done correctly.
If the substrate becomes waterlogged by moisture entering via the holes in the top of the canning jars, it is not useable and will have to be discarded. Then a new batch of substrate will have to be prepared.
An easy to find item that is common in most houses, aluminum foil is sold in all grocery stores. Some prefer heavy-duty foil for this application. To aid with keeping moisture out of the jars, surgical tape can be placed over the holes before sealing the jars with aluminum foil.
You can get by with a single cup, but a set with different size cups comes in handy for fine tuning the adjustment of the different proportions of material that will be used.
As with the aluminum foil listed above, most individuals already have a measuring cup, or set of measuring cups. If you don't have one, they are sold at grocery and the housewares section of department stores.
Mixing Bowl: To prepare the substrate (consisting of vermiculite, water, organic brown rice flour) a mixing bowl will be necessary. This is an item found in most kitchens.
If you don't have a mixing bowl that is appropriate to do the job, they are easy to find and purchase in any store that sells kitchen supplies.
Mixing Spoon: A mixing spoon is employed to prepare the substrate of vermiculite, water, organic brown rice flour together in the mixing bowl. As with the other items in the easy to find section, this is an item found in most kitchens.
It is easier to mix the items together with a larger spoon. If a mixing spoon is not available, a tablespoon or some other type of spoon can be substituted.
If you don't have a mixing spoon available that is appropriate for the task, they are sold at grocery stores and other businesses that sell kitchen supplies.
Large Pot With Lid: After the substrate is put into the canning jars, the canning jars and substrate need to be sterilized. This is done with a large pot with a lid, or with a pressure cooker or pressure canner.
With a large pot, you have to make sure that the tops of the canning jars don't get submerged. If this happens, the holes in the top of the canning jars let water in and the substrate gets waterlogged. Substrate that gets waterlogged has to be discarded.
An option for this is to get a canning pot that comes with a canning rack and lid. Or get a separate canning rack fits into a pot you already own.
A canning rack holds the jars above the water level. The heated water sterilizes the jars but doesn't submerge them.
If you get a canning rack to put into an existing pot you already have, be sure to get one that is the right size for the pot and can accommodate the canning jars you use. If only a partial number of jars fit in, you might have to sterilize the jars a few at a time.
If you have a pressure cooker or pressure canner that is large enough, they can do a better job of sterilizing the canning jars than other methods. See this for more information about using a pressure cooker to sterilize the substrate.
Drill: To make holes in the tops of the canning jars, where the needle with mushroom spores is inserted to inoculate the substrate, a drill or some other tool will be needed.
A drill press will make precise work quick and easy, if it is available. Use a drill bit that is slightly larger than the size of the needle on the syringe with the mushroom spores.
The terrarium you choose will probably also require a drill to make holes. If you don't have a drill, ask someone who does to lend you theirs. If you plan on growing mushrooms long term, you might want to get one yourself. Drills and drill bits are available at hardware stores and department stores.
These item as not necessary with a basic setup. You may want to purchase them but don't have to, and will still be able to produce a good crop.
Some items like the humidifier and perlite will help save time and effort keeping humidity levels in the terrarium, where the mushrooms are growing, at the desired high levels they require.
A pressure cooker is an option instead of utilizing a pot with a lid to sterilize the substrate prior to inoculating it with mushroom spores. A 10 cc syringe is only needed if you plan on producing your own mushroom spore syringes to start future crops.
Cool Mist Humidifier: Ultra sonic cool mist humidifiers are best suited to our purpose, but don't worry if you can not find a humidifier that is ultra sonic, you can use other humidifiers.
The big problem to watch out for is heat. If you use a humidifier that is not ultra sonic, make sure it is a cool mist type or one that has a cool mist setting. Some humidifiers have a cool or warm mist option.
It is possible to adapt an inexpensive cool mist humidifier to the task, but medium and higher priced models that have a way to adjust the humidity level and the fan speed are best. Depending on the model, it might be easier to attach the hose to a spout on some humidifiers, than it would be on others.
Perlite: This is an optional item depending on the fruiting chamber you choose. Perlite is a silicon-rich volcanic rock. It's mined and heated to expand the particles. It doesn't actually soak up water, instead water coats the outer surface.
Before it is put in the fruiting chamber, it is rinsed with water. Because of the relative large surface area, as the water that coats the surface evaporates it raises the humidity in the terrarium for approximately a month.
Some people prefer coarse particles because they find them easier to work with, but medium or fine perlite will do the job. Prior to use, put it a colander and rinse with water then drain it off a bit. After that, put in the bottom of the terrarium.
You want the perlite in the bottom of the terrarium to measure about 4-5 inches deep, so the amount you will require is based on the volume of your terrarium.
Pressure Cooker: If you are going to employ a pressure cooker, try to get one that is 4 quarts or larger, the larger the better. You can get 3-6 jars (1/2 pint) inside a 4 quart pressure cooker, depending on the shape of the jars and the pressure cooker. Some jars are short and wide others are taller and thin. An eight quart will allow you to sterilize 6-12 jars (1/2 pint) at a time.
Make absolutely sure that you know how to use it, and that all seals, valves, and safety plugs are in working order. For most people this is the most difficult item to obtain. New pressure cookers start at about $40.00 each, high quality models cost more but will last longer. Look in the housewares section of a department store.
A pressure canner will allow you to work with a larger volume of jars, some of them even have built in racks, so a maximum number of jars can be sterilized in one session. But they are more expensive and can be difficult to find. Information is presented in this guide for steam sterilization in a cooking pot, so you can still get by without a pressure cooker or canner if necessary.
10 cc Syringes: Pharmacies usually have syringes, it's just a question of convincing them to sell you a suitable one. Some localities have ordinances prohibiting the sale or possession of syringes without a prescription. If this is the case, you can have them shipped to you.
If you are buying mushroom spore syringes to start your crop, there is no need to buy empty syringes. You only need empty syringes if you are going to make your own mushroom spore syringes with mushrooms you harvest.
You can start you next batch of mushrooms with one. Look for a 10 cc syringe with a needle included. Blunt tip needles work as well as sharp tip. 1 cc = 1 ml, a 10 cc syringe = a 10 ml syringe.
This section is for the grower that has some experience and desires to cultivate a large crop of mushrooms. It is intended for someone that has already grown several crops using the PF Tek procedure detailed earlier in this document.
This section assumes a certain amount of experience and expertise. Please do not attempt this technique without first gaining the experience, you will most likely fail if you do so. The basic method is so a first time cultivator can succeed.
However, it is very inefficient and the culture jars take a significant amount of time to manufacture and colonize. If you desire to grow a large quantity of mushrooms, you will find it is not practical for your needs.
The following procedure is an adaptation of the traditional mushroom cultivation techniques. It assumes you have some experience and don't need to be warned about this and that.
The following description of the bulk growing procedure should be sufficient for an educated person, who has successfully grown with the basic method described earlier, to follow.
There are many fine books on the subject of growing mushrooms, and rather than compete with them, I suggest you look at this if you know how to grow on a small scale but start having difficulties bulk growing.
There is a movie called let's grow mushrooms! for someone who has problems following directions in this guide. It covers the brown rice method presented in this guide, as well as growing on grain, straw, manure, or sawdust and wood chips.
There has been such a demand for instructions to accomplish growing on a bulk substrate, the author has decided to help. But the following process has not been 'idiot proofed' yet.
You will need to use common sense and adapt as issues arise. Please note that this process depends on sterile procedures being in place. If you fail, it will most likely be because you introduced contaminants.
--- Mixing bowl.
--- Food processor (where to find).
--- Pressure cooker (where to find).
--- Coarse vermiculite (where to find).
--- Organic whole grain rye (where to find).
--- 1 quart canning jars (where to find).
--- Large pans (where to find).
--- Fresh mushroom or colonized jar.
Step 1: Note that a pressure cooker is necessary for several reasons. First, bulk grain is more difficult to sterilize. Secondly, in order to get the grain to absorb as much water as possible, pressure is required. You will need a large pressure cooker or canner to accommodate the 1 quart canning jars.
The exact size of the pressure cooker or canner will depend on the size of the canning jars you are using (they come in different sizes). In most cases, a pressure cooker or pressure canner with a 20 quart capacity (or larger) will be required.
The first step in the process is to generate several spawn jars. Place 2/3 cup of rye in each canning jar. Add 3/4 cup of water to each jar. Loosely screw on the caps and sterilize the jars in the pressure cooker. 45 minutes at 15 PSI is usually good.
As the rye cooks, it will expand and all of the water should soak into the rye. Let the jars cool to room temperature. The rye should be loose and break apart if you rotate the jars. That is the main reason rye is used instead of some other grain. This will be important later.
At this point you need mycelium to inoculate the grain. You will need a clean food processor and set of blades for it. If you can remove the section of the food processor that holds the foods, remove it (and the knives) and sterilize them in the pressure cooker, this is best.
If not, place the section of the food processor that holds the foods (and the knives) and put the in the dish washer with lots of soap and hot water. Don't open the pressure cooker or dish washer until you are ready to use the food processor.
If you are using a mushroom, perform the following steps. Sterilize 1/4 cup of water. Let it cool. Put the water and the mushroom into the food processor and turn the mixture into a slurry.
Don't mix the slurry more than you need to. You are creating small fragments of mycelium by chopping up the mushroom. The more you chop it up, the more damage you do to the small pieces of mycelium.
Open each spawn jar and place 4 or 5 cc's of the prepared slurry in the jar. Close the lid and rotate the jar so the rye kernels tumble and mix inside the jar. The idea is to get as many kernels as possible to have mycelium fragments on them. Loosen the lid and place the jars in a warm, dark location.
There are several reasons why tissue from a mushroom is preferred over spores for the inoculation of the spawn jars.
--- Mycelium does not need to germinate. It starts growing immediately.
--- Since every mushroom grown on the bulk substrate is of identical genetic origin, they will be very close in potency.
--- Normally only some of the tissue in a spore inoculation is capable of fruiting. All tissue that come from a fruit body are capable of fruiting.
If you are using a 100% colonized culture jar, perform the following steps. First, the culture jar should have been 100% colonized for at least a week. This lets the mycelium grow into the cake and results in more of it being available for the inoculation.
Birth the cake, and place it in the food processor. Turn it into little pieces smaller than a pea. Dump the sterilized rye into the food processor and turn it on just long enough to mix things up well. Place the contents of the food processor back into the jar and cover it loosely.
The cleaner your environment the more likely you will get through this stage without introducing contaminants. This is the most likely place to induce failure.
Loosen the lid and place the jars in a warm, dark location. In 3 or 4 days you should see isolated spots with white mycelium growing. Check the spawn jars periodically. When you see large areas of aggressive growth, tumble the rye to mix things up.
Rotate the jar enough to thoroughly mix the kernels. The idea of mixing the rye is to get kernels with mycelium growing on them scattered throughout the jar. Ideally, no kernel should be too far from a kernel with mycelium growing on it.
Repeat this process every 3 or 4 days when the mycelium growth has been aggressive for a while. Once there is mycelium growing within 1/2 inch of every other location no further mixing is needed. At this point just let the mycelium expand outwards until it is every where.
Once every kernel has mycelium growing on it, leave the jar sit undisturbed for a week. The idea is to let the mycelium grow as fast as possible.
Sterilize more jars filled with rye and water. Let the jars cool.
Most food processors have a plastic blade that comes with them for the purpose of mixing things instead of cutting things. Use this if possible. Make sure your food processor and blade are clean.
Empty the contents of a colonized spawn jar into the food processor. Turn it on until the rye kernels are all broken apart. Add some of the freshly cooked rye to the food processor.
Depending upon your confidence and the sterility of your environment you can add anywhere from 4 to 20 times the amount of grain in your spawn jar. The less you add, the less likely you will have problems with contamination.
The more you add, the faster you can create substrate. Initially, you should stay on the low side. Turn on the food processor and mix the freshly cooked rye with the colonized rye from the spawn jar.
Place this material in a container that can be loosely covered. This material should be treated exactly as the earlier spawn jars were treated except you should see quicker growth of the mycelium patches.
The amount of spawn you have can be compounded again and again until you have enough to inoculate massive substrates.
Once you have sufficient spawn colonized and available for your substrate, lay it out in a deep cake pan to a depth of 1.5 inches. Attempt to keep the surface even.
If you have a very clean environment, you can perform a mass expansion and lay out the uncolonized grain instead of waiting for it to colonize in the jar. This will save several days and a little effort, but in general it is not worth the risk.
Cover the pan with a sheet of plastic wrap. Do not seal it absolutely tight, but make sure that very little air is exchanged. Note that some air does need to be exchanged to keep the CO2 level from getting too high. But air exchange increases the likelihood of contamination. Keep it to a minimum.
This is one of the big benefits to bulk substrate growing. Whatever grain is not used to prepare a substrate can be used as spawn for new jars.
When you get to this point in the process, you can easily be preparing a new bulk substrate every couple of days. You just make sure you never use all of the colonized grain as substrate. You hold back some to use as spawn for the next set of jars.
Wait a few days until the freshly laid out substrate is showing aggressive growth. Laying out the grain breaks up the mycelium networks, and it takes several days for the mycelium to recover.
Casing the substrate is the next step. Various recipes are available but the simplest one consists of course ground vermiculite and water. Course ground vermiculite is a requirement because the fine ground vermiculite packs too tightly and seals the substrate.
Soak the vermiculite in water. Wring it out, but leave it fairly damp. Later versions of this guide will have exact measurements but for the moment, you will need to adapt. If any of you think you have an optimum mixture, please post it in the alt.drugs.psychedelics and rec.drugs.psychedelic newsgroups.
Lay out the casing material to a depth of 3/4 of an inch. Try to keep it smooth because this will result in the mycelium poking through everywhere at the same time. Cover with plastic wrap and wait. Typically, it will be about a week for the mycelium to break through the surface of the casing.
Initiate fruiting. Take the plastic off of the pan and place it in your terrarium. Make sure you have the temperature at about 75 F. Have some indirect light available.
As pins start to develop, use a hand sprayer to mist the casing and keep it moist. But be careful. Do not saturate it to the point of being wet and having water drops that will not soak into the vermiculite.
After the first flush, you can get a smaller second and third flush if you let the substrate rest for a while. There are a lot of factors affecting this.
One particularly important factor is how much of the first flush's moisture came from the substrate and how much came from the casing. If you can mist your casing several times a day, it will help the longevity of your substrate.
Grow Magic Mushrooms Index
--- Growing Cycle
--- Drying, Preserving
--- Dosage And Ingesting
--- Getting A Spore Syringe
--- Getting Stuff
--- Growing In Bulk
--- List Of Adaptations