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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:42 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By rodger rabbit (Skyypilot) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 04:11 pm: Edit

Skyypilotís Straw Log Tek

The inspiration for this Tek came from reading Paul Stametsí book, ďGrowing Gourmet and Medicinal MushroomsĒ. He describes a similar process for growing Oyster mushrooms on straw in vertical columns, where the fruits only form at holes you have previously punched. This works great if youíre working with a strain of edible which will cooperate that way, but many mushroom strains simply want to fruit wherever they choose. It is for those strains of edibles that this Tek is intended. Although all edible and dung loving mushrooms love fruiting on pasteurized straw, the author wishes to make clear that this Tek is intended for the cultivation of legal, edible mushrooms only.

The Tek assumes the grower is familiar with grain spawn production, because building a 36Ē log, which we will be doing in this Tek, requires from 4 to 6 quarts of colonized rye or corn. If youíre using smaller than quart (.9 liter) jars of colonized spawn, youíll have to do the math to figure how many to use. More spawn is better, as fast colonization of straw is essential. The pasteurization process doesnít kill all the contaminants; it only renders them harmless for approximately two weeks. If the mycelium hasnít colonized the substrate by then, contamination naturally will occur. The pasteurization process also spares the Ďgood bacteriaí which help the mycelium to naturally fruit better, as well as to help fight off contaminants. If one were to put straw into a pressure cooker and sterilize it, harvests would be much lower as a result of killing these beneficial bacteria, and it would be considerably more susceptible to contamination. Iíve worked hard to put together what I think is the most concise and easy to follow directions for pasteurizing small amounts of straw on the net today. Pictures accompany every step. Donít cut corners, and youíll be guaranteed success. Iíve tried to shrink the pictures as much as possible without sacrificing detail, to make downloads faster. I would recommend the reader print a copy of the Tek for future use.

1) Ok, the first step is to get a bale of straw from the local co-op or feed store. If you can find organic straw, it is preferable, because any contaminant or pesticide that is in the straw is likely to end up in the fruit bodies. The feed stores in my area carry organic barley straw and it works great. I know that wheat straw would also work.

2) Using whatever tools are at your disposal, chop the straw into 1-3 inch lengths. This is VERY important. The mycelium simply doesnít like to colonize straw if it canít get inside the hollow interior of the stems. Consider any length of straw longer than your pinky finger as too long. Itís a pain in the neck, but donít cut corners here. Your project will fail.


3) Once the straw is cut, put it in a Sterlite or Rubbermaid container (or anything else similar, like a clean trash can) and cover it completely with hot tap water. I use the sink sprayer, to wet the straw evenly as the container fills. When you have enough water in the tub, place a screen and weight over the straw to push it down under the water. It needs to Ďpre-soakí like this for at least an hour, but not longer than 2 hours. This is to hydrate the straw.


4) During the time the straw is hydrating, you need to get the pasteurization bath ready. You will need a container large enough to hold 14-16 gallons of water, plus the straw. Place one Sterlite or Rubbermaid container inside another for the insulation properties the dead air space between them provides. A very large insulated ice chest would also work well for this. The idea is that you want to hold the temperature of the pasteurization bath for an hour and a half. Without insulation of some sort, the bath will cool off before the time is up and not be effective.


Donít start this process until the straw is soaking, or else the pasteurization bath will be ready before the straw is hydrated, and either you put the straw in too soon, while itís still dry, or the water cools off too much waiting on the straw. What you want is to have a temperature of 140F-160F, after you put the wet straw into the hot water bath. Iíve found the best way to do this is to heat up six gallons of water on the stove until it boils. The two pots you see in the picture add up to six gallons between them.


When you have six gallons of water on the stove boiling, place two gallons of plain hot tap water into the clean tub, before pouring the six gallons of boiling water into it. Immediately place the two lids on the container to hold the heat in. Refill the pots with another six gallons of water and set them on the stove to boil. When this water boils, it will make 14 gallons total so far. Just before pouring in the second batch of boiling water, itís a good time to add the lime. Use ½ cup of hydrated lime for this recipe which uses 14-16 gallons of water. Be sure to stir the lime into the water very well. If youíre making a larger or smaller batch, adjust the lime accordingly. This will give the water a ph of 12-13 before the straw is added. This radical swing in ph, along with the heat will render the contaminants inactive for a couple of weeks.


5) Once youíve added the second batch of water, itís time to put the wet straw into the pasteurization bath. At this time, the temperature of the bath will be around 180F, but as soon as you add the wet straw, it will cool it down to the proper range of 140F-160F. Simply use your hands to lift the straw out of the bath, let it drain briefly, then place it in the pasteurization tub.


Once all the straw is in the bath, stir it around gently to lift any lime that has settled on the bottom of the tub. Place a screen (hardware cloth works great) over the straw, and put whatever object you have handy on top to keep the straw submerged. Donít worry about a few floaters that escape the screen. They will pasteurize just fine floating on the surface. You donít want to mash it all the way to the bottom or pack the straw tight while in the bath, because you want the hot water to be able to circulate throughout the straw during pasteurization.



Now, put the double lid on the tub to hold the heat in, and leave it alone while you go clean up all the mess you just made. Make a note of the time. Check on it after 45 minutes, and if the temp is approaching 140F, go ahead and add a couple more gallons of boiling water to bring the temp back up. Donít worry about adding more lime. After an hour and a half, itís done. Donít go more than an hour and a half either, or youíll kill too much of the Ďgood bacteriaí.

6) Ok, itís been an hour and a half and itís time to take the straw out of the pasteurization bath. Place the screen that was holding the straw submerged into the bottom of a clean tub, and transfer the straw to this new tub to drain/cool.


Cooling will take an hour or more. Donít waste all your hard work, by spawning hot straw. It will kill the mycelium. Leave the lid off the tub so air can get to it, and if itís cool outside, take it there. Donít worry about contaminants landing on your straw; Millions of them will, but with the high ph of the straw, they wonít be able to grow for at least two weeks, and your log will be pinning by then anyway. By that time the mycelium will be strong enough to fight off all invaders.

7) Now that your straw has cooled to room temperature, itís time to move it from the screen itís been draining on, to a clean tub for spawning. (You DID wash the pasteurization tubs while the straw cooled didnít you?) Donít squeeze it out or anything. The water that drains naturally while the straw cools will leave it at the right moisture content for spawning. At this time, cut your tubing to the appropriate length. Weíre making a 36Ē log, so cut it 18Ē longer than that.


Tie a knot in one end of the tube, and using a sharp kitchen knife, poke a few small holes in the plastic near the knot. These holes are to let the air escape as you pack the log. Take the 4-5 quarts of colonized grain or corn you have so carefully incubated, and beat them against a car tire to loosen up the kernels so they can be poured out into the tub of straw. I like to start with 2 quarts right on top of the straw.


Mix it into the top two to four inches only, before loading this top layer of spawned straw into your tube. Add another quart of spawn and mix it in, and continue the process until you reach the bottom of the tub, and your log is built. It seems to work better to thoroughly mix the spawn into the straw, as opposed to making a layer of straw, followed by a layer of spawn. This next part is VERY IMPORTANT. As you fill your log with straw, hold the straw in your hand, and gently sprinkle it down into the tubing, making sure it spreads evenly. You donít want big clumps of straw, with air cavities between them. After each handful or two of straw, stop and pack it down really tight with your hand.


Hold the tubing in one hand and pull up, while you stick the other hand down the tube and push down on the straw with all your might. I weigh close to 200 lbs., and I push down on the straw as hard as I can. Itís very important that the straw is packed tightly into the tube. The mycelium canít colonize across large air gaps, so spread the straw out evenly, and push it down really good. Donít stand on it or use mechanical means to get it tighter. Just push as hard as you can with your hands, and that will be perfect.

8) Now that youíve filled up your tubing to within 9 inches of the top, itís time to tie the second knot, sealing the log. Push the straw down really tight, and squeeze the neck of the tubing against the straw. Holding the tubing with one hand, spin the log around with the other to wrap up the plastic tubing so you can tie a knot in it. Just make sure you tie the knot right against the straw, so the tubing keeps the straw tight. Now lay the finished (almost) log on the floor, and with both hands, roll it gently back and forth, to even up the surface. Roll it like a piece of dough, to get it very smooth on the outside surface.


) This is an important step to help achieve full colonization. Now, carefully take your log, and place it on the shelf you are going to incubate it on. Leave it alone for 3-5 hours, but not longer than 8 hours before doing this next step.

9) Almost done. Your log has been sitting for 3-5 hours now, so the moisture content has had a chance to equalize. All that packing during filling had pushed your moisture to the bottom of the bag. Some excess water may have run out the small slits you cut in the bottom of the tubing while you packed. That is good. Now, for the mycelium to colonize the straw, it needs a small amount of air exchange. It doesnít need a lot of air, just some. Also, you want to keep as much of the CO2 inside the log as you can during colonization. I use a hunting arrowhead to punch holes into the tubing. You can just as easily use a sharp knife, or box cutter. Cut slits in a + shape about every 2 to 3 inches all along and around the log. The slits only need to be half an inch or so long. Just make sure no place on the log is more than 3Ē from a vent. The idea is to have a small amount of air exchange, while maintaining moisture content. Now, put your log into its final fruiting location, and donít touch it again until you see pins forming invitro. This will be in two to three weeks. The growing mycelium HATES to be handled, so resist the temptation to pick up your log, or otherwise disturb it. Let it be exposed to normal room lighting during colonization, and donít let the temps get too high. Room temperature is fine. With a marking pen, record the date and strain on the end of the log.

10) Itís day fifteen, and you have pins! Youíve noticed for a few days already, that you had full colonization. Itís time to birth your log. Try to do this without moving or disturbing the log in any way. Use sharp clean scissors to carefully cut the knots off both ends of the log. Youíll have to cut a circle around the knot to get it off. You canít cut the whole knot off in one snip, because itís up against your log, and youíd bruise the mycelium. Once the knots are cut off, carefully cut the tubing lengthwise along the top edge of the log, trying not to touch the mycelium with the scissors. Peel the plastic down and away from the log, exposing the entire surface to air, then gently and loosely fold it back into place. There should be lots of air gaps around the log now. Once each day, fold the plastic back, then immediately replace it. This will stimulate a massive pinning. You can cut another length of tubing to go over the top of the log where the seam is, to keep it from drying out. Be sure to cut lots and lots of holes in this plastic. All you want to do is slow down the rate of evaporation, so you donít have to mist. You do want lots of constant air exchange. If you see a great deal of condensation forming on the plastic sheeting, make the holes a bit bigger. As your log fruits, the mushrooms will push the plastic away from the log as they grow. Donít worry about the fruits being in contact with the plastic. It wonít hurt or bruise them. Theyíll love the humidity, and youíll love not having to constantly mist.

Happy shrooming!
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:50 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By Blycat (Blycat) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:11 pm: Edit

Thanks Rodger,

Truly great work, I can't wait to get started.


By Techno-hippie (Technohippie) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:17 pm: Edit

Thanks a bunch man!! 2 cool!

peace -- light -- unity


By Blycat (Blycat) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:26 pm: Edit

Hey Skyy,

I was wondering if the recipe that you gave was for a certain amount of straw? If so, what is that amount?
Does the amount of lime change if you do more or less straw.
And also if there is a certain amount of the straw that goes along with the above recipe, what size tube does that make?


By chimpo mcdoodle (Tac) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:43 pm: Edit


By Max Power (Babooscha) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:50 pm: Edit

Skyy can I replace grain spawn with broken up pf cakes?

By Microfile (Microfile) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 05:56 pm: Edit

Max: Yes you can

Rodger: Props to you! An excellent way of doing things -- I'll print this one out to try someday....

Just one question: Why the "d" in Roger Rabbit?


By new_shroomin_guynyc (Jay) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 06:19 pm: Edit

man this tek looks good

By matt (Flourish) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 08:07 pm: Edit

Awsome! You should maybe throw in a picture of a fruiting log at the bottom of the TEK... and maybe one of the log set under plastic after pinning has started. And maybe you could include a picture of a log with the + shaped cuts in the plastic. If they don't show, maybe you could use a marker to make them clear.

Can you break down the (rough) ammount of ingredients used per foot? About how much straw will it take per foot? About how much spawn or, alternativly, cakes will it take per foot?

Is there a reason you went with 36" for the tek? Does 36" produce better than other lengths?

Is anyone willing to sell out small lengths of that tubing? I definitly don't want to buy a big roll, but I'd be interested in buying ten feet or so to try my hand at the tek and see if I like it. I'm sure there are probably some others thinking the same thing.

By Smerd (Smerd) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 08:25 pm: Edit

Wow. This is terrific. I edit copy and write lots of instructions so I'm compelled to say that you've done a great job expressing this tek. Writing instructions is an art; most ppl can't do it well. You've done a great job putting this together... and the tek sounds pretty cool too! ;-)

By Spaghettio Martini (Shrizoomer) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 10:49 pm: Edit

How much does a straw log like that yield? Dry and Wet...
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 06:57 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By myco domesticus (Mycophil) on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 - 11:32 pm: Edit

Very informative Rodger ,it reminds me of a site i've seen a little while ago
with "sausages from ceiling to the floor
here two pics from that site
first one is on piercing the bags
the other one is about harvesting

By MyCurious (Mycurious) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 03:28 am: Edit

This is great! I've innoced some popcorn so it's a matter of time. So excited!!

By rodger rabbit (Skyypilot) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 03:28 am: Edit

I gotta build me one of tired of cutting my fingers.
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 07:06 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By Imok Urok2 (Imok) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 04:35 am: Edit

Well Sky, gotta say it.....
archive material

By jhon plemel (Mm_Maker) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 06:05 am: Edit

ok my question is. if you used those 6 quarts of popcorn to spawn the straw how many grams would you averagely get. and if you just cased 6 quarts of popcorn ho many grames would you averagly get?

also how many pints is 6 quarts

By Spaghettio Martini (Shrizoomer) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 06:28 am: Edit

Hey Mm Maker,

Thanks for asking that question, cuz I'm curious as to how much the straw log will yield (grams), but it seems nobody wants to answer my question...
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 07:09 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By rodger rabbit (Skyypilot) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 10:54 am: Edit

The logs will produce more than casings, and much faster than casings, hands down. Yeild is hard to pinpoint, because so many other factors come into play, such as the age of your spawn (senescence), vitality of strain, temps and humidity, your ability to LEAVE THE LOGS ALONE to colonize, etc. Here's the catch 22; larger logs yeild much better, but they are more likely to get bruised by handling if you move them in any way. I found by experience that smaller logs don't bruise as easily, but they tend to dry out sooner, and the fruits are smaller. Here's an example of how fast this works. This picture is the 36" log built 24 hours ago to demonstrate this tek. As you can see, the corn is already growing out.


The picture below is a log spawned 7 days ago. Almost full colonization!


Somebody asked about the amount of spawn to use. I'm a fan of using lots of spawn, to speed the process up. After all, with grain to grain transfers, spawn is nearly free, and easy to make in large amounts. May as well use it! Below is a pic of the pasteurized straw and the 5 quarts of spawn used to build the 36" log for the tek. That is a 115 quart Sterlite container, half full of straw. 5 quarts of colonized corn worked out just right.


The main thing is, get to experimenting folks!
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 07:13 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By Matt Smith (Funguslove) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 05:08 pm: Edit

Does anyone think the addition of manure/compost will add any benefit?

By Soliver (Soliver) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 06:36 pm: Edit

Beautiful Rog-

Assuming my G 2 G works out tomorrow, I'll be trying your tek VERY soon.

As a side note, a great, easy way to cut up straw has been used for years by builders of cob (mud & straw) houses:

Put your straw in a round plastic garbage can, fire up the weed eater, and go to town on it. I tried it yesterday & it works great for our 1-3 inch peices - (assuming you're using plastic string, not one of those blade attachments).

Awesome tek!


By jhon plemel (Mm_Maker) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 07:16 pm: Edit

ok so after the log is compleatl colinized could you if you wanted stick in in your fruting chamber?

By stevie ray (Gldfsh) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 08:16 pm: Edit

no Mm from what i understand that would not be enough air exchange for the log and would increase your chance of contams. that is what is so great about this tek you don't have to worry about contams as much or misting and fanning.

By jhon plemel (Mm_Maker) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 08:50 pm: Edit

cool thanks i think i get it. ok so all you do is when its colinized you cut the plastic off and then lay the log on a shelf and then lay the plastic over it like a tent? wont the log dry up pritty fast? and hat about the side thats laying on the shelf will that get contaminated because there is no air circulation?
andcould you maby set up an ultrisonic humidifyer so you have the log o a shelf with no plastic on them and the humidifyer blowing mist unto them? i think the whole plasic thing would b easyer but i jst dont understand how they dont dry up?

By stevie ray (Gldfsh) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 08:56 pm: Edit

leave the plastic underneath it. you can put more plastic over it if you want otherwise just cut it open it and lay the plastic back on it. they are so large it helps retain the water but rodger is gonna build one with an inner res. should help with drying. you only use the log for one flush so it only has to stay wet for a week once you have birthed it.

By wongbater (Wongbater) on Wednesday, April 16, 2003 - 09:07 pm: Edit

Nice pants. This is a must try. One question. Would Visions method of pastuerization be ok, b/c, well, your method looks like a pain in the ass rodger. I mean, do you think your method is better, and therefore necessary to prevent contam? Thank you so much for experimenting, analyzing, and SHARING. You are an inspiration.


By rodger rabbit (Skyypilot) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 12:05 am: Edit

Of course, there's simply not any such thing as "the only way to do it". There's lots of ways to do things. The pasteurization tek I wrote is based on experience, from having to throw away more hard work due to contams than I wish to even remember. It works. Of course other ways work too.

By Sidney (Peltier) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 01:54 am: Edit

Just a thought for plastic tubing sources: try out any clothing manufacturers in your area.

Fabric comes on 45 and 60 inch wide rolls, which are almost invariably delivered covered in tubing similar to that described above. The diameter might be anything from 8 to 18 inches, give or take, and the plastic (polypropylene?) is *very* strong.

The plastic is usually chucked away after it's taken off the roll, so I'm sure you'd find a kind factory manager who'd give it away for nothing rather than throw it in the bin. Hell, a really nice one might even take a few off gently for you so there's no damage. The stuff would be pretty clean, too, I imagine.

There, first post and I didn't even ask a question!


By Dantaglo (Dantaglo) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 01:05 pm: Edit

Awesome Tek.. it rules. the first thing that I will try when my popcorn gets ready..

By Mushroom Zen (Sno) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 02:30 pm: Edit

It's so awesome... I wrote a poem...

eh hem...

I often wonder how life would be
without the log and just plain me
think about this I must implore
no more worlds to see and explore
there is one question that I must ask
my true intent I must unmask
how would it be without the shroom?
just a cold, cold, quiet, very dark room...

By Techno-hippie (Technohippie) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 03:40 pm: Edit



By Jorneyer (Jorneyer) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 04:38 pm: Edit

poetry of course a part of zen.

hey, doesn't carpet come wrapped in plastic like this?

By Mushroom Zen (Sno) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 05:17 pm: Edit

True, true...

By hershmire (Hershmire) on Thursday, April 17, 2003 - 09:22 pm: Edit

Posted this in the other related thread, but I'm sure it'll help people out here, too.

I found cheap plastic tubing designed for growing mushrooms with Froogle at Fungi Perfect. Just a little easier for the person who wants to experiment and not drop $80 on plastic tubing.
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hippie3 (Admin)
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 09:50 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

looking good, i'll move it to fungi.
we can append the other subtopics later as you finish them.
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Jesse James (Spacecowboy)
Posted on Friday, May 16, 2003 - 02:44 am:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

By Dung LOver Mush (Poopey666) on Monday, April 28, 2003 - 03:27 pm: Edit

Would you be able to perform this tec with peat moss in place of straw. Or peat moss pasturised with worrm crap would work?

By rodger rabbit (Skyypilot) on Tuesday, April 29, 2003 - 11:00 am: Edit

Peat moss had its nutrients used up thousands of years ago.

By Imok Urok2 (Imok) on Thursday, May 01, 2003 - 02:28 am: Edit

Since this thread hasn't been updated for a while I am
putting it under the active thread on this subject.
Hope this helps

By yea ok (Unkyherb) on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 12:09 am: Edit

So what about straw+dung logs.. bigger fruits? more contams?
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Admin (Admin)
Posted on Thursday, August 28, 2003 - 07:23 pm:Edit Post Quote Text Delete Post Print Post Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

the addition of 1 cup bleach to 10 gallons of water used to pasturize [along with the hot water and lime] will improve your rate of success.
both the lime and bleach methods of pasturization are described in stamets' book, the mmgg.
combining them with the hot water bath is essentially a triple pasturization and has proven remarkable effective in field tests.

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