I am making this post in the hopes of inspiring others to try "exotic" species and not be scared to screw up. It assumes experience growing other mushrooms, including agar work.
The syringe was labeled "P. caerulescens 2017". I found very little and often contradictory information on growing this species. Searching for the synonymous "P. weilii" leads to a little more, data.
Either it requires wood or not, it loves rye grass seed and hates PF style cakes, or viceversa. It requires casing, but the casing must either contain nutrients or be fully inert, it loves coir or coir always gets contaminated. You get the picture.
EARLY NOVEMBER: Syringe to agar.
In November I made some PDA plates. In a still air box I put a drop from the syringe in a clean watch glass (one can use the bottom of an upside-down shot glass or any other concave glass object) and used the tip of a flame sterilized needle to transfer tiny droplets to the center of the plates.
I got a ton of contamination, as can be seen at the top here. My plan was to keep making transfers until I got a few clean plates with healthy growth.
MID NOVEMBER: Achieving clean culture.
I ran out of glass Petri dishes, so I prepared 24 "no pour plates". The tek can be found elsewhere, basically pour pre-sterilized agar into polypropylene deli containers with an air exchange port and pressure cook them. This turned out to work great later.
After 3 transfers I had clean plates. I transferred tiny wedges to 12 new jars in a still air box. 100% success rate.
LATE NOVEMBER: Laziness is next to godliness.
The agar is finally >80% colonized. I was planning to do agar to grain in order to have my mother grain culture. But once I had everything inside the still air box sterilizing the scalpel and cutting wedges seemed like to much work, so I just poured sterilized grain into the agar jars. Worked great.
EARLY DECEMBER: [worm] Shit sandwich.
With enough mother culture it was time to try some 'bulk' substrates.
In my pantry I had wood shavings (cherry and pecan), hay (oats), vermiculite, worm casings, brown rice flour, other grain flours, and coconut coir. In a coffee grinder I shredded, in separate batches, the woods, hay and coir to get a nice texture. I made different mixes, added water until field capacity, and sterilized them all in half pint batches.
There are no recipes, all was done by feeling. The mix had to fill airy enough, but still have some density to it, and they had to look and smell good. I approached this like mixing a cocktail by taste. All in all I ended up with 12 different mixes.
Using the same small polypropylrene containers I layered some substrate, followed by some colonized grain, topped with more substrate. I believe this is called the sandwich tek.
All the mixtures colonized, but the fastest and better looking were the ones with hay, wood and coir. The ones with worm poop were slower, and may still yield some fruits.
My favorites are the ones where the shredded hay or coir provide the structure, and finely ground wood and a little bit of grain flour stick to the hay/coir to provide the food.
MID DECEMBER: Casing.
Again I tried different recipes based on the different information found online. The two main schools seem to be coir/moss and cactus soil. Some people speculate that adding fine sand should work better, some go so fast as to suggest mostly sand with a bit of organics mixed in.
Here you can see a few experiments, including a 95% fine sand casing. Similar to the substrate the ones that looked best were the ones were coir provided most of the structure, with the other additives kind of filling the gaps.
DECEMBER, JANUARY, FEBRUARY: Hurry up and wait.
As soon as I cased them I put the jars in 6 quart shoe boxes with a thin layer of moist perlite on the bottom. In my experience the loose fitting lids and daily misting take care of air exchange.
In this time I got over 6 flushes of cubensis, even went from spore print to spore print once. The derrumbes looked stalled. But finally it happened.
I HAVE A SINGLE DERRUMBE, AND IT IS SO PRETTY.
I think one can even see the waxy looking pellicle in this picture.
Just for comparison here is an out of focus picture of a cubensis and a fingernail for scale.
THE FUTURE: Please halp!
I will try to keep this thread updates as the rest of the jars succeed or fail. I would really appreciate any advice on how to grow this species, and any feedback is appreciated.
Thanks for looking and for being such a good place to hang out and learn.