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Magic Mushroom Growers Guide (page 6)

Index of Adaptations

Adaptation-1 Using bigger culture jars
Adaptation-2 Using a pressure cooker
Adaptation-3 Slowing colonization
Adaptation-4 Inoculating 1 site
Adaptation-5 Speeding colonization
Adaptation-6 Speeding colonization
Adaptation-7 Speeding colonization
Adaptation-8 Removing before colonization
Adaptation-9 Waiting to remove cake
Adaptation-10 Checking terrarium before use
Adaptation-11 Quality cooler for terrarium
Adaptation-12 Humidity gauge in terrarium
Adaptation-13 Heater with air pump
Adaptation-14 Plastic wool for finer bubbles
Adaptation-15 Ultra sonic humidifiers
Adaptation-16 Use of ice-pak
Adaptation-17 Adding moisture by injection
Adaptation-18 Continued drying of shrooms
Adaptation-19 Modify ultra sonic humidifier
Adaptation-20 Add moisture to substrate
Adaptation-21 Use of a timer
Adaptation-22 Use home made rice flour
Adaptation-23 Lowering of contamination rate
Adaptation-24: Using a 2 1/2 gallon jug
Adaptation-25: Contaminate free mushrooms
Adaptation-26: Clean spore print

Adaptation-1: Use of Big Substrate Jars.

Normally, 1/2 pint canning jars are used to prepare the rice cake cultures. It is possible to use 1 pint tapered canning jars instead. In fact, in some parts of the country you may have a difficult time finding the 1/2 pint size.

The main benefit to using the larger 1 pint size is that more substrate can be growing mushrooms in your terrarium. The terrariums described in this report typically will hold 6 or 8 cakes. If you want more substrate growing mushrooms, one way to accomplish the goal is to use bigger cakes.

There are several disadvantages to using bigger cakes. First, it takes several weeks longer for the fungus to colonize the entire cake. Another disadvantage is that if you suffer from contamination, you will be throwing out more substrate material.

Lastly, you need to make sure when you construct your terrarium that you leave a few more inches of space under the drip shield for the cakes to reside. Since they are taller, they will require the drip shield to be placed higher.

You may notice mushrooms trying to grow inside the jar before the substrate is 100% colonized. This is not ideal because you are using up moisture in the cake for something that you won't consume, but it is a fact of life using the 1 pint jars. It is normal.

Adaptation-2: Use of a Pressure Cooker to Sterilize.

Normally, most people will elect to use a large kitchen pot to sterilize the culture jars. A pressure cooker can be used. Instead of letting the substrate jars sit in boiling water for 60 minutes, you can place them in a pressure cooker for 20-60 minutes. If possible set the pressure to 10-15 PSI

If you are going to buy one, get a model 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. An eight quart will allow you to sterilize 6-12 jars (1/2 pint) at a time.

One caution. Do not release the pressure until the unit is fully cooled. The substrate in the culture jars will be at 250 F. If pressure is released, moisture will boil out of the substrate. New pressure cookers start at about $40.00 each, high quality models cost more but will last longer.

Pressure canners 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. Look in the housewares section of a department store.

If you use a pressure cooker or pressure canner, you can sterilize the jars quicker and with more certainty.

Pressure cookers cost money. If you already have one, there is no disadvantage. You may as well use it!

Adaptation-3: Tight Packing of Substrate to Slow Colonization.

You can slow the colonization of a jar dramatically by simply packing the substrate material very tightly in the culture jars.

Normally, people want the substrate to colonize as quickly as possible. In the case where more culture jars are being prepared than can fit in the terrarium, it is good to space out the colonization of the jars so that some of the early rice cakes are consumed and spent before the last jars in the batch are ready to be placed in the terrarium.

This technique allows you to space out the colonization of your jars so you can prepare more of them at one time and harvest them later than usual.

If you are doing twice as many jars as will fit in your terrarium, pack half of the jars very tightly.

The substrate material will compress a little bit when packed tighter. You may have to mix up a little extra substrate material to fill the tightly packed jars to the proper level.

Adaptation-4: Injection at Only 1 Site

You can inject only one site instead of the usual four sites in the culture jar.

There are two advantages to doing this. First, you use significantly less inoculate. Generally it is not worth while for this reason. The inoculate is not very expensive if you purchase spore syringes. It is virtually free if you prepare your own spore syringes.

The main reason why this is sometimes worth while has to do with contamination. By far, the most likely spot for contamination to enter the culture jar is at the site of the inoculation.

If you have a spore syringe that may not be entirely free of contamination, you can increase your probability of keeping the culture free of contamination by only inoculating one site.

Note that commercial spore syringes are typically very sterile. If you do nothing to change this fact, it is best to inoculate at four sites in the culture jar.

In order to illustrate the point, assume that the spore syringe has slightly 'dirty' contents but is still viable. Assume any given injection site has a 50% chance of becoming contaminated. If you inject only one site, the culture has a 50% chance of becoming contaminated. If you inject four sites, the culture has a

.5 x .5 x .5 x .5 = 6% of NOT becoming contaminated.

If you do everything right, this technique to increase your probability of producing a contamination free culture should not be necessary. However, many people have problems generating sterile spore prints at the start of their cultivating experience and this will help those people continue to generate cultures until they get enough experience.

The first time you use a spore syringe that you prepared yourself, you may want to inoculate half of your jars the normal way, and the other half this way. If your spore syringe is just a 'little' dirty, this will give you second chance to grow more mushrooms and prepare a cleaner spore syringe.

It will take significantly longer for the jar to become 100% colonized.

Adaptation-5: Large amounts of Inoculate.

You can speed up the colonization of a jar dramatically by simply injecting the substrate material with more inoculate.

If you inject 1 cc of inoculate at each site, you will get many germination's and the cake will colonize significantly faster. You should place the beveled side of the syringe needle against the glass so that the inoculate is coming out of the syringe and heading towards the glass.

It should form a thin puddle of liquid between the glass and the substrate. 1 cc of inoculate should produce a puddle several inches in diameter.

Normally, people want the substrate to colonize as quickly as possible. This will help accomplish that goal. Also, the sooner and more fully the cake gets colonized, the less chance there is that contamination will get a foot hold and destroy the cake.

This adaptation requires extra inoculate. If you are producing your own spore syringes it is not a factor. A single spore print can produce many (close to 50) spore syringes. If you are purchasing your spore syringes, you may wish to wait the few extra days to avoid the extra cost of using more inoculate.

Adaptation-6: 80 Degree Colonization Temperature

After you inject the mushroom spores into the rice cakes, you can speed the time it takes for the spores to colonize the entire cake by storing the jars at a temperature between 78 and 82 degrees fahrenheit.

There are several easy ways to heat the colonizing jars. If you have a floor heater with a pilot light and it is summer time (so the heat is not going to come on), you might be able to put the cakes in a shoe box and set them on the unit.

The top of your water heater might be a good candidate. Or you could fill a cake pan half way with water, and put a submersible fish tank heater in the water set to 78-82 degrees.

Then simply put the jars in the cake pan, making sure the water level is low enough so it doesn't get into the jars. Add water to the cake pan to keep it from drying up.

After the jars have fully colonized and are ready to go into the grow chamber, adjust the temperature in the grow chamber down to between 75 and 80 degrees.

When the cakes are removed from the jars, initiation of fruiting is enhanced by shocking the cakes with a temperature drop, lower CO2 levels, and light.

After the mushrooms have started forming, they will grow quickly if the temperature in the grow chamber is raised to between 80 and 90 degrees.

When all the mushrooms have been harvested and the cakes are empty, they can be helped to produce another crop by lowering the temperature in the grow chamber from 80-90 back down to 75-80 degrees.

After mushrooms have formed, raise the temperature to 80-90 degrees. You can get several crops from the cakes by repeating this process. Bear in mind, there will come a point when the nutrients in the cake are exhausted and no more mushrooms will form.

Adjusting the temperature in the grow chamber is most easily done with the fish tank bubblier and submersible heater system located in the preparation of the terrarium section of this guide.

However you choose to do this, make sure the temperature doesn't ever get above 90 degrees. Check out the heat source before you subject your cakes to it.

Keeping temperatures within certain limits at the different stages of growth a mushroom will go through will allow the mushrooms to grow quickly, and produce a maximum amount at harvest time.


Adaptation-7: More Oxygen for Colonization

The culture jars can be given more oxygen during colonization. This is done by inverting the jars so that the lid is down.

As the CO2 builds up, growth of the fungus slows down. Indeed, the mycelium benefits from increased CO2 during its vegetative growth stage, but eventually it gets too high for optimum growth.

If you invert the jars, the CO2 can drain out and is replaced by fresh air. This will speed the colonization of the substrate.

The rice cakes normally shrink a little bit while in the jars, and when you invert the jars they will slide down a little bit. This will create a vacuum and pull some air into the jar. This air could have contaminants that get a foot hold in the uncolonized portions of the cake.

Another reason you will want to avoid doing this is the initiating of the fruiting process is triggered by various things including a drop in the CO2 level. You may confuse the fungus and inhibit a massive flush when you take the cake out of the jar. You will still get a crop, but it may take longer.

Adaptation-8: Taking the Rice Cake Out of the Jar Before it is 100% Colonized

The partially colonized substrate can be removed from the jar if the uncolonized portions of it are cauterized. Remove the cake from the jar and heat a nail head red hot using a propane torch or burner on a gas stove. Brand the entire uncolonized area.

Nothing will grow on the uncolonized, cauterized portions of the rice cakes. If you need to remove a cake early from the jar this will keep contamination from having a place to get a foot hold. There are very few good reasons to exercise this adaptation.

The reason the authors have included it is sometimes growing cycles overlap and you want to start a new culture in every jar you have. If you birth the rice cake early, you have an extra jar to prepare cultures in. One other reason for doing this is travel.

If you're leaving on a trip (one where you will be out of town) and your cake will be overly colonized by the time you get back, you can use this adaptation to birth the cake early and move it to the terrarium.

This is dangerous. It is asking for trouble. First, you are assuming that you can inhibit growth of contaminants on the uncolonized portion of the cake. The bigger the area that is uncolonized, the more risky this assumption is.

Secondly, the process assumes that when the cake is removed from the jar it has sufficient networks in place to provide the nutrition needed for the fruiting process. If you take the cake out too early, this may not be the case.

Adaptation-9: Waiting to Remove Rice Cake From the Jar

The colonized substrate does not need to be removed from the culture jar immediately after it is 100% colonized. You can wait until primordia (tissue in its earliest recognizable stage of development) form on the substrate.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to delay the 'birthday' of the rice cake. You may not have room in the terrarium or be planning a trip where you won't be around to maintain the terrarium. Also, waiting gives the mycelium more time to fully develop its network throughout the substrate and can result in larger flushes.

The continued development of the mycelium network will take place at a slower rate in the jar than it would in the grow chamber, with lots of oxygen available.

Adaptation-10: Checking Out Terrarium Prior to Removing Rice Cake

The terrarium and its life support systems can be checked out prior to removing a rice cake from the culture jar. Make sure everything is 100% functional before removing the rice cake from the jar.

If you have any problems, you get a chance to fix them before you destroy a rice cake.


Adaptation-11: Use of a Coleman Cooler instead of a Styrofoam Cooler

A fancy, nicer, plastic cooler can be used instead of a Styrofoam cooler.

Plastic coolers typically have more space in them so they can hold more rice cakes. Also, it is nice to have a cooler with a hinged top that simply flips up and allows access easily.

Lastly, the plastic coolers will last longer. If you plan to use the terrarium a lot, go ahead and use a coleman cooler from the start. Make sure to get a plastic one, rather than metal or steel.

Cost is one disadvantage. Another disadvantage is the plastic coolers are more difficult to modify for use as a growing chamber than the Styrofoam coolers.

Adaptation-12: Adding a Humidity Gauge to the Terrarium

A humidity gauge (called a hygrometer) should be placed inside of the terrarium to measure humidity. A hygrometer/thermometer combination is a better idea since it will read both humidity and temperature.

When choosing a hygrometer or hygrometer/thermometer combination, it is important to get one that will work in a high humidity environment. Because of the high level of humidity, stay away from digital models and get an old fashioned non-electrical type, like this.

The gauge should be put below the drip shield so that it is showing the actual conditions where the mushrooms are growing. In reality, the conditions will not vary much inside the terrarium, but there is no reason to add inaccuracy.

The gauge can be glued in place with silicon glue/caulk but this makes cleaning the terrarium harder. After you grow a crop, the terrarium needs to be completely washed and sterilized. The gauge glued on to the side will make it hard to access the back of the gauge and the part of the terrarium it is glued to.

Remember that absolute accuracy is not so important as knowing the relative conditions inside you terrarium over time. Even if you gauge is off a little bit, it will tend to be off in the same direction all the time.

The easiest way to use a gauge during the growing process is to know what it used to read during previous growing cycles and keeping close to that reading. If a problem does develop, it will provide a clue which direction you need to move.

A humidity gauge is very helpful during the growing cycle, but it takes up valuable real-estate inside the terrarium. This gets it out of the way inside the terrarium and makes it easy to see the state of the terrarium with out messing around inside the terrarium.


adaptations continued here

Grow Magic Mushrooms Index

--- Credits
--- Overview
--- Substrate
--- Terrarium
--- Growing Cycle
--- Drying, Preserving
--- Dosage And Ingesting
--- Getting A Spore Syringe
--- Getting Stuff
--- Growing In Bulk
--- List Of Adaptations

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