Post Number: 17266
|Posted on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 07:41 pm:||
This is a bulk method I have developed over the years to grow Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms. I have borrowed from many methods/ideas and this is what I have found to work the best for me. The goal of this method is to colonize a large amount of worm castings, then use them to spawn pasteurized straw. The end result is big flushes of mushrooms.
We will begin with the assumption that the reader already has the ability to make and successfully colonize grain spawn. Six quart jars will be required for this method. Fewer can be used, but the reduction will result in slower spawn run, consequently extending the time it will take the substrate to completely colonize, leaving it vulnerable to contamination.
Preparing the Worm Castings
The first step, after the successful production of the six jars of grain spawn, is to prepare the worm castings to receive the spawn. I have found slowly wetting the castings and then microwaving them best do this.
Five pounds of worm castings are dumped into a big mixing bowl with lid. Slowly wet the castings with a hand mister, mist just a bit and stir. This step will take a bit of time don't hurry. You want to add enough water so that when you squeeze a handful of castings as hard as you can, a few drops of water will be yielded. It is very important that the castings not be too wet. This is a common mistake that is made by most cultivators on their initial attempts at this method. Castings that are too wet will generally contam quite easily.
After the suitable moisture level has been reached it is time to pasteurize. Put the lid on the mixing bowl, leaving it loose so as to allow the steam that is produced during pasteurization to escape slowly. Microwave the castings on high for 5 minutes. Let them stand in the microwave 1 hour, and again, cook on high for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes are up, clean your hands with a sanitizer, and open the microwave and close the bowl lid tight. Allow the castings to cool in the microwave.
Next you will need to select a container for your castings to colonize in. I have found that 16 qt Rubbermaid containers work well. I prefer to use one of these rather than say a gallon ice cream bucket, because the castings will be layered more thinly and seem to colonize faster. I have no idea why the castings run faster when they are spread thinner, but it seems to be the case.
When you have found a suitable container in which to colonize your castings, it needs to be cleaned. I recommend soaking a paper towel with isopropyl alcohol and wiping out the container well. This will effectively kill any contamination causing organisms or their spores that might have found their way onto the inside surface of the container.
In a clean environment open the large bowl of castings and dump them into your casting container. Use a sterilized fork to break up any clumps of castings that you might see.
Next shake your 6 jars of spawn and dump them onto the castings, then mix them in, paying attention to get an even distribution of spawn in the castings. Level the surface of the castings/spawn mix and cover.
In 7-14 days you will observe that the castings turn completely white, a sign that the castings have become completely colonized. When this happens, it is time to pasteurize your straw.
Preparing the Pasteurized Straw
For this step you will need a pillow case, a brick, a plate, a candy thermometer, some wheat or oat straw (about half a pillow case full), something to cut the straw, I recommend tin snips, and a large pot (preferably a pressure cooker).
Use the tins snips to cut the straw into 2-3" pieces. This will allow the straw to absorb the pasteurization water more quickly, allows the mycelium to run the straw quickly and easily, and makes for a neater job in general. When you have cut all the straw to length load it into the pillowcase (about half full) and then tie a knot in the pillowcase.
Place your large pot on the stove. Fill your large pot half full of hot water. Put the pillowcase into the water, put the plate over it, and put the brick on the plate. This keeps the straw filled pillowcase from floating up.
Slowly raise the temperature of the water to 155 degrees f. Monitor the temperature with the candy thermometer, and turn down the burner to almost nothing when this temp is reached. You goal now is to keep the temperature of the water between 140 and 155 degrees f for at least one hour, preferably 1-½ hours.
When your straw has been submerged for the above-prescribed amount of time it will be properly pasteurized. It is time to drain your straw. Generally I dump the water into the sink, then put a bowl upside down in my large pot, then put the pillow case on top of the bowl. This allows the straw to drain as it is cooling. Be sure to cover your straw when it cools. If you used a pressure cooker to pasteurize the straw you can loosely cover it with the cooker lid.
Preparing the Fruiting Chamber
Next you will need to find a suitable fruiting chamber. I recommend 20-gallon Rubbermaid clear totes, because they allow a lot of light to reach the surface of the substrate. While this is not essential, however I find that shrooms exposed to a lot of light seem to grow straighter and be prettier. Of course since the whole container is clear, one must duct tape the container starting at the bottom, and extending up four inches. This will keep pins from forming on the sides of the substrate. After you have chosen your container, clean it as you did the container that was used to house the castings. Don't forget to clean the lid as well.
In a clean environment, uncover your straw, untie the pillowcase, and empty the straw into your fruiting container. Take the lid off the container that contains the colonized castings. Use a sterilized butter knife to divide the castings into four equal pieces. Crumble three of these pieces onto the straw and mix well. After the straw/castings are evenly distributed throughout, press the mix down as hard as you can with your fist. Be sure to press the entire surface, leaving no loose spots in the substrate. Loose areas in your substrate could lead to anaerobic areas, as water will collect there as the casing matures.
Use the last ¼ of the castings to 'case' the substrate. I say case, but in actuality it is not a casing layer, but a partial layer of colonized biomass applied to make the top of the substrate colonize quickly. The reason for doing this is that the colonized surface will insulate the colonizing substrate from contams. This method is highly recommended. Don't worry; there will not be enough castings to totally cover the top, that is ok. The mycelium will cover the surface quickly. If there are any loose straws sticking up into the air, you can use a pair of sterilized scissors to snip them off. Put the lid on your tub, put it in a warm dark place, or cover it with a blanket or sleeping bag. Leave it there until it looks something like this. There is no reason to even take the lid off during this stage.
I'd call that 85-90% coverage of the surface. Now it is time to begin fanning. Don't worry about those small uncolonized patches of straw. As soon as the air from fanning hits that mycelium those spots will disappear.
Fanning is very important when using a sealed tub setup. It must be done for two reasons. One, it reduces the level of Co2 in your tub by flushing it with fresh air, and two, it reduces the humidity in the tub by replacing the moist air with dry.
Also, as a side note, you will never have to mist, in fact I discourage it. The straw will provide all the humidification needed for three big flushes as long as you keep it sealed except at fanning. With this method I never see metabolic waste in the bottom of the tub, there is no excess moisture, the % is just right.
You need to fan the tub two, preferably three times a day. I generally clean and use the lid from the container I used to colonize the castings. It is the perfect size. Just open it up and fan it hard for about 3 minutes. Your arm will get tired if you do it right, so go ahead, switch hands.
In 6-10 days you will start to see pins. Just keep fanning daily until they are as big as you want them to get, and then harvest them. It is best to grab the mushroom at the base and twist it so you don't leave any tissue behind.
If you are so inclined, after three flushes indoors, you can take this tub-cake outside, and with minimal work get at least two more big flushes out of it.
Transfer of Tub-Cake to Outdoor Beds
I begin by soaking half of a five gallon bucket of straw and a half a bucket of cow chips overnight in water. After I load the buckets I put a cinder block in it to hold the straw/manure down, then fill the bucket with water.
Next I pick a shady spot in my yard and dig a hole about 12 x 24 ", about 6 " deep.
After the straw and manure have soaked overnight I dump them on the ground near my hole, letting them drain a bit. I crumble the manure in the hole, and then mix it evenly with the straw.
Finally I dump my big cake of colonized straw onto the top of the bed and break it into small pieces. After it is crumbled I mix it into the straw/manure in the bed, being sure to leave no spots uninnoculated. Lastly, I put 12 " of dry straw over the bed and soak it with the hose well. Because I live in a very dry area I find that I have to water my bed almost daily.
Very course vermiculite at a depth of 2-3" may be used in place of the straw, however if it is dry where you live you will probably end up with cracked fungus. The straw prevents this by creating a humid microenvironment in which the fruit body can reach it full potential.
Pretty soon the mycelium will be tearing through the bed you've made. It looks something like this. Feel free to dig around in your bed, its outside after all, you're not going to contaminate it.
Hang out a week or two and water the bed. Pretty soon you'll be getting flushes that put your indoor ones to shame.
Well, there ya go. With the experience you will gain running a few of these tubs start to finish the sky is the limit, P. cubensis wise. You can do this as large or as small as you want. You can use water bath pasteurized manure in lieu of castings. You can load this stuff into bread pans, turkey broilers, bowls, Etc.
The strain pictured in this summary is Treasure Coast, acquired from 3M in syringe form (I won a contest for it) in early 2001. However I haven't found a strain of cubensis, except for PF Classic, that does not respond well to this method.