If you are using the fish tank air stone (bubblier) system to create humidity in your terrarium, you can add a submersible fish tank heater. With this method, you can increase the humidity and temperature at the same time.
You place the submersible fish tank heater in the water and use it to raise the water's temperature. This will make it easier for the air bubbling through the water to absorb moisture, thus raising the humidity. The higher you set the temperature of the heater, the more humidity you can get.
A 50-100 watt heater is sufficient, but a larger heater can be used. The best temperature inside of the terrarium is about 75-80 degrees for the formation of new mushrooms and 80-90 degrees for mushroom growth.
The humidity should always be 85% or higher. You should be careful never to allow the inside temperature of the terrarium to get above a maximum of 90-95 degrees, or below 85% humidity.
A long air stone (6-12 inches) in a container that lets the air stone lay in a horizontal position is most efficient. If you have to use the air stone in a vertical position, try using 2 smaller (4 inch) airstones with a dual output air pump for driving 2 air stones. Stay away from flexible air stones, they restrict the amount of bubbles.
In order to effectively use this adaptation, your terrarium will need to be in a location where the room temperature is 70 degrees or less, or the heater will not turn on enough to make it worthwhile. A room temperature of 60-70 degrees seems to be ideal.
For myself, with room temperatures of 60-70 degrees, this type of setup (using a 60 watt submersible fish tank heater) has provided enough humidity to eliminate hand spraying or use of a humidifier. It has been used year round and even works in winter when relative humidity of the room goes down below 50%.
When they are operating, make sure that the submersible fish tank heater and air stone are always under water. Prior to doing any work that will require the heater to be out of the water, unplug the heater 60 minutes before taking it out of the water.
When the heater is put back in the water, wait 60 minutes before plugging it in again. If you do not follow these precautions (or the ones the manufacturer of the heater recommends), the glass casing will probably crack from the temperature change.
The heater and air pump don't take up a lot of power, if you keep the heater to under 100 watts. To ensure conditions remain constant, it is a good idea to plug both the heater and air pump into a ups (uninterrupted power supply).
An uninterrupted power supply will supply enough power to run the heater and air pump for some amount of time, if there is a power failure. The higher the rating of the uninterrupted power supply, the longer it will be able to provide electricity.
With a medium sized terrarium (24.0 x 18.0 x 15.9 inches), 10 cakes, and a room temperature of 60-70 degrees, you will be able to generate at least an extra 10%-25% of humidity by using this adaptation with a long air stone (6-12 inches) in a horizontal position.
With an efficient air pump, good air stone with small holes, and 50-100 watt heater, humidity increases of 40% are possible. Air stones have to be cleaned or replaced every 2 months, or they will clog and reduce the amount of air they release.
In addition, this adaptation will automatically eliminate CO2 buildup before it occurs. By providing fresh air (through the air stone), you don't have to release the carbon dioxide manually. With this method, it is possible to eliminate the need for perlite in the terrarium.
You will increase the temperature inside your terrarium some by doing this. You might not need the added heat, but if you do, this method has the added benefit of raising the temperature inside the terrarium.
If the increase in temperature is too much, you can use a container that is well insulated to hold the water. The insulation will keep the water at a higher temperature and the heater will not turn on as often.
If you are using the fish tank bubblier system to create humidity in your terrarium, you can place angel hair or anything else that will slow the bubbles rise in the water container.
Simply pack it into the container. This will increase humidity by several percent. Ideally, you want to slow the bubbles but also split them into smaller bubbles. Some plastic versions of steel wool for use washing dishes work well. Steel wool would work well except that it will rust and get nasty.
You will be able to generate an extra 1% or 2% of humidity over ambient by using this adaptation. The smaller the bubbles are and the more time they spend in the water, the greater the benefit.
First, build an extra Growing Chamber. Then on one of the 2 liter soft drink bottles, poke an extra hole. Insert a grommet and make this bottle the last stage for drying the air.
Even the most basic ultra sonic humidifier can feed more than one terrarium with sufficient quantities of humid air to keep everything in the ideal range for the fungus.
You get twice the growing area for your mushrooms. Your crops can be twice as big. Alternatively, you can use one terrarium for older cakes.
Older cakes are significantly more likely to become contaminated and pose a threat to the other cakes in the terrarium. Moving older cakes to the second terrarium drastically reduces your chances of a crop failure.
You need to build an extra Growing Chamber, and it takes up a little space.
After the cakes are fully colonized, they are placed in the growing chamber. At this time, mushrooms will form quickest if the temperature inside the grow chamber is 75-80 degrees. Once the mushrooms have started growing, temperatures between 80-90 degrees will promote faster growth.
After you have harvested all the mushrooms from a cake, you can initiate new mushroom growth by lowering the temp of the cakes to 75-80 degrees. Rather than lowering the temperature of the entire grow chamber, you can place a frozen reusable ice-pak in the bottom near the cakes. This will cool them down and help them slowly shift to the fruiting temperature range.
The ice-pak should be placed between 1/4 and 1/2 inch from the rice cakes. A flat ice-pak will work, but if you have the option, get one that is designed to slip into the center of a six-pak. It will have circular indents molded into each side and it will conform to the shape of the rice cakes better.
If everything was ready, you should see pin heads develop 3 or 4 days after you perform this adaptation. If you don't see any develop after 3 or 4 days, you can repeat this operation again.
The networks may not have been developed full enough and the few days since the last attempt may have been enough time to change this fact.
You can still initiate prolific flushes with the terrarium above the normal temperature range. The optimum temperature for growing mushrooms is between 80 and 90 degrees, while temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees are necessary to initiate new mushrooms.
This adaptation can let the cultivator grow at the maximum rate, and still produce new mushrooms on the cakes.
The ice-pak will lower the humidity in the terrarium. Mostly, this is an issue when you have mushrooms on cakes that are part way through the growing cycle and not ready to harvest.
Mushrooms that are growing on other cakes will usually survive the bad growing conditions for the six hours it takes the ice-pak to initiate fruiting. When using an ice-pak, you need to have a fish tank bubblier or ultra sonic humidifier setup on your terrarium to keep the humidity high enough.
You can turn up the humidity control on an ultra sonic humidifier, but you will have to continue to adjust it down as the ice-pak loses its cool. If too much moisture forms on the cakes, it will prevent the initiation of new mushroom growth, and that was the whole purpose of this operation.
After a cake has produced several mushrooms you can add moisture to it. Flame sterilize a 3/16 inch drill bit. Let it cool. Use it to drill a hole at the center of the cake. You can do this by hand. You do not need a drill.
Do not go all the way through the cake, but drill a deep reservoir into the cake. Cut a plastic straw to 4 inches in length. Insert the straw 1/2 inch into the hole. The straw should fit tightly in the cake.
Straws from McDonald's are larger than most and work well. They seal well and hold more water. Fill the straw with water daily. A 10 cc. syringe works well to fill the straws with water.
You should wait to drill the hole until the cake has produced some mushrooms because the inside of the rice cake is not colonized as quickly as the outside. Also, there is sufficient moisture in the cake at the start so there is no need to add water immediately.
The rice cake will produce many more mushrooms than it would have without adding moisture. Using this adaptation allows the nutrients in the rice cake to be almost totally consumed before the cake is exhausted.
Care should be taken when drilling the hole because there is no way to monitor for contamination inside the hole. Also, you will need to add water on a daily basis.
You can place a small glass with a small amount of desiccant in the long term storage bag to continue to extract moisture from the mushrooms. A shot glass with 3/4 of an ounce of desiccant is sufficient to keep the humidity very low in the long term storage bag. A larger glass that is more stable might be a better choice in order to avoid an accident of spilling the desiccant inside the bag.
The mushrooms will continue to dry and their preservation is enhanced.
You will need to be careful not to knock the glass over and spill desiccant in the storage bag. This is only suitable if you can leave the bag in a stationary location.
The output of the ultra sonic humidifier can be reduced by changing the circuitry. Almost all ultra sonic humidifiers use a 5 K-ohm or 10 K-ohm potentiometer to control the output.
By adding a 5 K-ohm or 10 K-ohm resister in series with the potentiometer, the original 'low' setting becomes the new 'high' setting. The humidity output can be turned down even lower than originally possible.
Simply cut the wire going to the potentiometer and solder a similar sized resister (available at Radio Shack) in series. You may need to set the humidity control above the minimum setting once you make this modification.
Note that this adaptation is mutually exclusive with Adaptation-21. If you try to combine them, it won't work.
This drastically reduces the suspended water particles emitted by the humidifier. However, the big advantage is that the humidifier uses significantly less water. It is possible to fill up the humidifier and leave on a trip for 10 days without having to add water.
Complexity is the major disadvantage. The above instructions are deliberately technical. If reading them doesn't give you enough information, don't attempt to do this. Find someone to help you. It is very easy and straight forward for someone that is handy with a soldering iron to accomplish.
A reservoir for moisture can be built into the cake while packing the jars with substrate material. Start with an empty jar and tamp 1/4 inch of substrate material in the bottom. Next, position a magic marker or some other object with a cylindrical shape and a diameter of about 3/4 inch in the center of the jar. Fill the jar as normal.
Next, remove the object and fill the bore with damp vermiculite. Lastly, pack 1/4 inch of substrate material over the entire jar, sealing the damp vermiculite inside the cake.
The damp vermiculite can be mixed separately from the substrate material. Use about 1 cup of vermiculite and 1/3 cup of water. This should produce enough damp vermiculite for a dozen 1/2 pint culture jars.
After the cake has fruited, occasionally inject water into this reservoir. The easiest place to inject is the position of the cake that used to be at the center of the bottom of the jar. Just insert a syringe filled with sterile water and inject water until it is full.
In case you are wondering, the substrate material can't be injected with water directly. The rice flour and vermiculite form a very tight seal and it is next to impossible to inject water. Even if you do manage to inject water, it doesn't spread through the cake. Having this reservoir filled with damp vermiculite gives the mycelium network access to a lot of moisture.
The easiest way we have found to implement this adaptation is to cut the bottom off of a 10 cc syringe and press the bottom of the syringe into the wet vermiculite several times. This will load the syringe with wet vermiculite.
Then place the syringe in the culture jar and pack the substrate around it. Use the syringe's plunger to hold the wet vermiculite stationary while you remove the syringe. Tamp an additional 1/4 inch of substrate material over the entire surface of the jar.
This adaptation will dramatically extend the longevity of the cake. The cake's yield are normally limited by the amount of moisture in the cake. This procedure allows you to replace moisture as it is consumed by mushroom growth. In general, you will double the total output of the cake compared to not implementing this adaptation.
It is a little bit of extra work to prepare the jars this way. Also, there is a need to be careful to use sterile water when injecting moisture during the growing phase. There is no way to check for contamination introduced inside the cake by injecting water.
The ultra sonic humidifier can be placed on a timer to control the amount of suspended water droplets. Because the humidifier is turned on and off the humidity in the growing chamber will rise and fall. This might stimulate fruiting.
Get a timer with short on/off cycles, if possible. With most timers, you can have the power switch on or off in 15-20 minute cycles. Timers with shorter cycles than 15-20 minutes make it easier to ensure the cakes do not get water droplets forming on them.
In general, the condensation filter chambers should be set up identically to the normal humidified chamber setup. You just may not need as many filter stages since the humidifier will not be running steady.
The other parameter you need to set is how tight to seal the chamber. You need to make sure the chamber's humidity does not drop too far during the 'Off' cycle of the timer. Typically, the 'Off' cycle is at least 60 minutes.
Ideally, you want the humidity to fall to 85% by the end of the cycle. If your chamber seals tightly, you may be able to let the ultra sonic humidifier stay off longer.
There are several advantages to using a timer.
--- Less drying stages are needed for the humidifier. The output can be piped more directly into the terrarium.
--- The humidity in the chamber will be moving up and down which seems to stimulate fruiting.
--- Water consumption by the humidifier is automatically reduced making unattended operation more possible.
Cost and availability are the major disadvantages.
Rather than use brown rice flour available at a health food store, you can grind your own from long grain brown rice. Simply put the dried rice into a coffee grinder or a blender and let it chew the rice into a chunky flour.
You will need to increase the water from 1/4 cup per 1/2 pint jar by 1 and 1/2 tablespoons. The chunky home ground flour absorbs a little more water than the normal flour.
Cost is one benefit, but that is not the reason this adaptation is useful. Using home ground flour will speed the colonization of the substrate. It has been reported that a 1/2 pint jar can be 100% colonized in 11 days if fresh spores are used and the jar is kept at 85 degrees F. during colonization. Note that this is the current record, and most jars will take a bit longer, but overall, the colonization time period is reduced.
Also, the home made brown rice flour seems to yield much more consistently and produce slightly more mushrooms per cake than store bought flour.
The raw ingredients of the substrate can be sterilized separately to eliminate nearly all of the contaminants. Spread the vermiculite and rice flour evenly into separate cake pans and bake in a preheated oven at 300 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
While these are baking, boil a large bowl of water in for 10 or 15 minutes. Use these materials to mix the substrate. It is still necessary to sterilize the jars filled with substrate.
Nearly all of the possible contaminants in the raw materials will be eliminated. The sterilization of the substrate after you mix and prepare the substrate will only need to address any new contamination that you added during that process.
The sterilization of the mixed substrate will be much more guaranteed. You should experience a lower contamination rate. This adaptation is particularly useful if you are not using a pressure cooker to sterilize the culture jars.
Boiling the culture jars only gets them up to a temperature of 212 degrees F. This adaptation provides an opportunity to eliminate contaminants that require a higher temperature to kill them.
Extra time and effort.
Using these water jugs provide a few advantages.
--- Because of their size, they don't need to be emptied as often.
--- Simple to operate valve that can be used to ease draining.
--- Their shape makes it easier to stack neatly along a shelf.
--- Because of their large volume, less filtering stages are needed.
The worst disadvantage is the fact that these containers are typically not transparent and if used for all the stages it is difficult to see how much fog is in the system.
If you are going to use a cake to generate spores, you can insure that the caps stay free of contaminants. When you birth the cake from the culture jar, set it on a clean wash cloth in the terrarium.
Place a large glass jar over it and seal it to the wash cloth. A large peanut butter jar is usually perfect. You need to have enough room inside the jar for the mushroom to grow to maturity.
Humidity will be able to leach through the wash cloth and surround the cake, but air currents will not be present and the cap should be relatively free of contaminants. This setup assumes the floor of the terrarium has a wire mesh to support the cakes.
A much cleaner cap will be available for making prints. This will lower the chances that contamination is introduced into the process.
Extra effort. Extra space in the terrarium.
Setup everything the way you would normally to generate a spore print. Keep an eye on where in the process the cap is. After a cap has been dropping its spores for three or four hours, you can change the plate on which the spores are being deposited.
Simply discard the initial plate. The new plate will be contain a much cleaner spore print than would have been possible with only one plate.
A much cleaner print will be generated. If contaminants get on the gills of the mushrooms, as the cap starts to drop spores, the first spores contain most of the contaminants. By discarding the initial spores, you will end up with a cleaner spore print.
You need to catch it at the right time.
Grow Magic Mushrooms Index
--- Growing Cycle
--- Drying, Preserving
--- Dosage And Ingesting
--- Getting A Spore Syringe
--- Getting Stuff
--- Growing In Bulk
--- List Of Adaptations