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A Newbie's FAQ Guide

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#1 Hippie3



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Posted 17 February 2005 - 08:59 PM

i see several new ones posting answers to questions,
which is good
except when they give
the wrong answers.
plz refrain from giving advice
if you do not know the correct answer,
bad advice is worse than useless
because it costs folks time
and can result in the loss of their crop.
incorrect posts may be modified and/or deleted by the Staff here
and members who persist in posting bad advice
may be suspended or disciplined in another way.
so be damn sure
you know what you are talking about
before you post.
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#2 Guest_Peter Cottontail_*

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Posted 04 June 2005 - 05:33 PM


Substrate: That part of a mushroom growing system that contains the nutrients and provides a place for the mycelium to expand and colonize though cell divisions.

Casing: A non-nutritious layer that is applied over the top of a substrate to encourage pinning by creating a loose microenvironment with numerous small air spaces. The casing layer also helps to provide moisture to the substrate below (or above, as in the practice of double end casing pf cakes).

Spawn: Mycelium on some sort of nutritious or non-nutritious carrier medium that is used to inoculate a bulk substrate. If you crumble a pf cake or jar of rye or popcorn, etc., and use it to inoculate manure or compost, you have used the cake or grain as 'spawn'.

A pf cake is a 'substrate'. If you fruit it as after birthing, you are fruiting directly from your substrate. If you apply a bit of vermiculite or peat/vermiculite to the top, you have applied a 'casing layer' to your substrate. Most people who use PF cakes apply a casing layer to them, therefore creating a 'cased substrate'.

If you simply crumble a pf cake or jar of grain and apply a 'casing layer', you force the mycelium to colonize the same substrate twice, thus weakening it by using energy and cell divisions to repair the damage you caused by crumbling it. You are in essence using the cake or jar of grain as spawn to inoculate itself. Many inexperienced growers do this and incorrectly call it a ‘casing’, but then wonder why it doesn’t perform as well as a straight pf cake that has not been ripped apart. Remember, the casing is only the top layer.

I post these short definitions because there is too much misunderstanding in the community regarding the terminology of mushroom culture. If you ask for help with your ‘casing’ please be asking for help with the casing layer. If you’re asking for help with your ‘cased bulk substrate’ please be sure to indicate that. If I see another thread comparing cakes to casings, I’ll scream. There is no comparison. They are not the same thing. A pf cake has nutrition and can support mushroom growth. A bulk substrate has nutrition and can support mushroom growth. A casing does not have nutrition and can’t support mushroom growth.

I had intended to lock this thread upon posting, but now believe it would be better left open to Q and A so we can all be on the same page when posting.
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#3 Hippie3



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Posted 05 June 2005 - 06:27 AM

also see our
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#4 Guest_Peter Cottontail_*

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 07:27 AM

All would do well to read the glossary.

#5 Guest_golly_*

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 03:48 PM

So if i were to tell ya that i had 3 casings that produced 125grams dry.
U would rather me say -i had 3 cased bulk substrate containers that produced 125grams dry....?...iduno...

#6 Hippie3



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Posted 05 June 2005 - 03:55 PM

bulk can be either cased or uncased
so that should be noted, as you did.

#7 Guest_Peter Cottontail_*

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Posted 05 June 2005 - 04:40 PM

Even better would be:
"I had three cased cow manure trays that produced 125 G dry"
"I had three cased compost trays that produced 125 G dry"
"I had three cased popcorn trays that produced 125 G dry"

Bear in mind, under the vernacular that has developed lately, if you sprinkle vermiculite on a pf cake, you have created a 'casing', but nobody seems to call it that, they call it a cake. If they do the same thing in a tray, they do call it a casing. That is an incorrect use of the word 'casing' which is only correctly used to refer to the top layer of non-nutritious substance.

#8 hydrodad



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Posted 06 June 2005 - 08:26 PM

I agree with Roger; Trying to figure out all the jargon and tek's can be maddening at first. Actually I have still been confused up until now about the "casing" thing. So I have pretty much given up on the bulk grow and stuck with cakes until the very present time of which I had (tonight)posted some questions about my new attempt.

#9 Hippie3



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Posted 09 June 2005 - 07:06 AM

one good reason to make a clear distinction
is that fact that bulk substrates can be spawned
with powdered brf 'cakes' but once you crumble a cake
itr's no longer a cake but still folks call it that
when more properly we should just talk about
the substrate composition
and it's shape as two different matters.
a cake can be made of grain
and a casing can be made from brf/verm 'cake' material.
the lines have gotten even fuzzier
since the term "rez-effect" came into use.
a old style pf "cake" is the same as
a brf rez-effect casing.
confusing eh ?

#10 reefer


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Posted 09 June 2005 - 08:56 AM

" If I see another thread comparing cakes to casings, I’ll scream."


I am also guilty of incorrectly using the word "casing." Thanks for clearing that up Rodger.
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#11 Hippie3



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Posted 11 June 2005 - 12:56 PM

i'm seeing a great deal of crappy advice being given
under the guise of creative thinking
or because of not reading/understanding the question
thus giving the wrong answer.
giving advice is very serious,
you can cost someone a great deal of time, energy and resources
take the time to do the job right
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#12 insight



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Posted 07 October 2005 - 06:53 PM

I'm sure there are several people that stop by the boards, read for a while and still can't seem to quickly find what they are looking for so they either post a the question, get discouraged or try something else. So, I figured, why not post the most frequently ask questions that I see asked by people just breaking into the hobby. Between the archives located here and the vaults located here, you should be able to find almost anything you are looking for. Sure there are several more, please feel free to add to post.

So here you have it. Insight’s Newbie’s Guide of FAQ’s.

1. What is the best growing TEK?
This has to be the most common question, but the answer is pretty simple… preference. The easiest, most foolproof TEK for the beginner is the Standard PF TEK located here which is imaged from PF’s Guide. Here is another, more pictorial version. Once you have understanding of the basics, then it may be wise to move on to Bulk Substrate cultivation.

2. What do terms like BRF, PF, FOAF, Spawn, Coir and DEC mean?
You will see many terms referred to every day on the boards. BRF is Brown Rice Flour, PF is Professor Fanaticus, FOAF is friend of a friend. A list of Glossary terms can be found here.

3. Can you recommend a vendor where I could order some spores from?
Everyone has a favorite or two, but if you're not sure who to pick, here is a list of ‘Topia's Vendors. These are the guys that ‘Topia stands behind for good product.

4. What is the best strain to use?
As you will hear frequently and learn for yourself, almost all cubensis strains are alike. Some have different properties than others such as cap color, height, sporulation patterns and stem depth and strength, but generally all the same. With that being said, stick with common strains such as B+, Golden Teacher, Hawaii, Texas and South American to name a few. There are hundreds of different strains, some just renamed. Ones that aren’t as common may need to be worked with more and may not produce and well as the more common ones.

5. How long till I see growth?
Initial signs of visible mycelium growth could range from 3-14 days from time of inoculation using a multi-spore syringe. Average is 5-8 days. This depends on ambient temperature, age of spores, substrate used, etc…

6. Should I incubate?
This is another commonly debated question and again leads to preference. I personally have found the colder temps lead to slower colonization. Some people leave the jars in a dresser drawer or in the closet at room temp, some just put all the jars in the cabinet somewhere in the kitchen and some (like myself) use an incubation chamber. You don’t want the temp around the jars (ambient temp) to fall below 70° or above 84°. Keep in mind that while the mycelium is colonizing, it is metabolically raising the temperature an extra 1-2°. If you decide that you do want to incubate your jars, there a several different styles of chamber ranging from a Tub-in-Tub system to a Rubbermaid with a fish tank heater. Here is a link to get some ideas.

7. What should the temperature be for incubation and fruiting?
This varies per Genus of mushroom, but generally speaking, incubation and fruiting temps should be anywhere from 70°-80°. Different exotic strains such as Ps. Cubensis, Pan cyan and edibles require different temps.

8. How much light do my cakes need?
Mushrooms, unlike plants, use light to induce pinning. As long as they have light a couple hours a day, that would be sufficient. However, up to 14 hours can be given. Most members will either leave their cakes where they get indirect sunlight throughout the day or give fluorescent light fixed on for 8-12 hours.

9. How much air exchange is needed?
Cubensis mushrooms are pretty tolerant. It is recommended that the air be exchanged every hour, but minimum, a few times a day.

10. How to I raise the humidity in my fruiting chamber?
The best way would be to line the bottom of your fruiting chamber with damp perlite. Perlite retains moisture, thus, increasing humidity. Some people use coolmist systems or ultrasonic foggers.

11. Should I birth my cakes or go Invitro?
This is all preference. The question you ask yourself is space and/or stealth a factor? If either/or, you may want to sway toward invitro. It gives you a chance to cultivate while saving space. Everything is contained within the jar. The downfall is a good chance you won’t be able to take spore prints.

12. What is the best Casing/Substrate TEK?
The two most common are probably using straw or poo. Both have their ups and downs. Due to increased risk of contamination, it is better if you have some experience under your belt before you jump into bulk trays. Here is a link to bulk casing TEKs.

13. What is the best type of grain to use?
Preference again. Popcorn and Rye Berries are among the easiest. Wild Bird Seed is good because of its size, it provides several inoculation points but harder to prepare. Here is a link to some Rye grain TEKs. Here is a link to some Popcorn TEKs.

14. How long after my cake has colonized until I could pick ‘em.
This too varies with the strain and the type of fruiting method performed. Once your cake has fully colonized you should be able to harvest within 1-2 weeks. It takes a few days for pins to show up, and a few days for the pins to mature into mature mushrooms.

15. I see wet spots. Is this OK?
Maybe, maybe not. As with any living thing, mycelium needs to excrete its waste. Sometimes, you will look at a jar and see a small amount of a brownish fluid, this my friend, is mycelium piss. Other wet spots may an area that wont colonize or an area that has contaminants.

16. I see green, am I doomed?
Most of the time, it would be better to toss the contaminated cake/tray, bleach-bomb your grow area and start over. If you seen green in your jars while incubating, get rid of them as you have just started the process. If you have already birthed your cakes or bulk and see green, you could bleach dunk your cakes/casings to try and kill the trich, but there is no guarantee that it wont come back to bite you. Keep in mind, that trich starts off as a white colored mold in the initial stages. By the time it turns green, thousands, if not millions of spores have been release in the air. It only take one spore to kill your grow.

17. Will peroxide kill these contaminants?
H202 has only been found to be effective on killing cobweb mold and for use with agar. H202 will not kill Trich or other many other molds seen frequently with mushroom cultivation.

18. Why do my cakes always contaminate?
This could be due to many reasons. Dirty syringe, dirty needle, dirty work environment, Contaminated substrate, moving air, and the list goes on. The first would step is to backtrack your work and see if there was any time anything could have came in contact with open air. When doing a lot of work with mushrooms, keeping a sterile environment is crucial. Working with tools, cultures and spores should be done in a sterile glovebox. Its very important to make sure that nothing gets exposed to open air any more than it has to.

19. Do I need a glovebox.
If you plan on taking spore prints, working agar, working with grains, doing transfers, then yes. Your glovebox is the sterile, still air chamber that all detailed work is done. This box prevents contamination issues later down the road.

20. What is the best print TEK?
There are many, the thing to remember is sterility. It would be best to print in a glovebox where there is no moving air and is a sterile environment. When you notice some spores on the stem of the mushroom, the cap is ready to be printed. You need to try to keep the cap as sterile as possible. Sterilize all of your tools, lance the cap as close to the top as possible, place the cap of foil, tyvek or whatever media you choose, cover with a jar, small bowl or similar, and let sit between 2 hours – overnight, whenever the cap has dropped spores. This is the basic printing idea. There any many variations, here is a link with more info.

21. What is the best way to dose?
This is all about preference. Some powder their shrooms and make chocolates, some chop them up and make tea, some just pop a couple in their mouth and chomp away. It is said that fresh shrooms carry a higher potency that dry. Here are some ideas.

22. Mushrooms have stopped growing for my cakes and they look dry.
It’s time you dunk them. By dunking the cakes, you are rehydrating them and getting them ready to flush a second time. The easier way to dunk your cakes is to clean them off under running water, put them back in clean jars, fill with water, put a soda cap (or similar) on top of cake, put lid and band on and let sit over night. Dunks can be anywhere from 12-24 hours. Here is a link for some other TEKs.

23. Does more blue mean more magic?
There has been no proof that mushrooms that bruise darker are any stronger than those that don’t.

24. Where can I find…
There are many items in mycology that we use, many hard to find. There are too many specifically to list. Here is a link to some commonly asked about items. If there is one you can’t find, just ask.

25. How do I dry my mushrooms?
Some people put them under a fan, some on paper towels by moving air, some right over desiccant. There any many ways. A strong fan will probably yield the best result. Keep in mind, a mushroom is 90% water, so any moisture left in the mushroom after it has been placed away for storage will cause it to rot. You want to have your mushrooms cracker dry.

26. Do I need a Pressure Cooker?
Yes. Many people have gotten away with making BRF Jars and sterilizing them in boiling water with success. Problem being, a pot of boiling water cannot get the jars to the internal temp that is needed to successfully kill the contaminants that would survive boiling. When working with grains, a pressure cooker is essential and grains contaminate much easier than BRF. You will also find a pressure cooker useful to sterilize your scalpel, syringes, jars, lids, water, etc…

27. What is all this talk about casing mean?
You may hear this term used incorrectly, but a Casing is defined as: A non-nutritious layer that is applied over the top of a substrate to encourage pinning by creating a loose microenvironment with numerous small air spaces. Here is a link to a discussion regarding this topic.

There any many more questions that could be asked, and I will try to update this list a time goes on.

You will find a world of knowledge, along with many good people here at Topia looking to help you every step of the way.
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#13 imok



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Posted 24 October 2004 - 10:21 PM

1st Welcome to Mycotopia Posted Image
"mi casa es su casa" Posted Image spanish
"a minha casa é a tua casa" Posted Image portuguese

2nd Here are some other links that will help you with
Link:Liquid Culture: Karo/Honey/Dextrose Q&A,
Link:Cloning and other teks

Link:Archives Has all of the collected wisdom, and information needed to be successful in this hobby(there is alot of info there, check the archives out yourself, updated often).

Link:Glossary If you don't understand a term look it up here.

Link:Search If you can't find it in the Glossary, use the Search function at the top of every page to search the archives and the rest of the board too.

The following teks are from the front page of the Archives:

Link:PFTEK: Cakes The original PF Tek with all the details you need to be successful the first time.

Improving PF Cake Formula: Super Cakes Getting the
best out of your cakes(not for beginners).

Link:Invitro [MycroTeks] Combines the PF jar creation tek with a way to pursue this hobby with minimal labor and maximum stealth. Also known as the Invitro/stealth/neglect tek(has several names but the same basic tek)

Link:Sterilization & Pasturization Methods Keeping it clean and growing only what you want.

Link:Dunking Increase the number of flushes and the size of your shrooms(Important if using the invitro tek as a way to get the shroom its needed moisture; the shroom is 90% moisture)

Link:Bleach Dipping/ Salt Tek How to prevent contams and extend the life of your cakes/casings as well as what to do if your casings do get contamed(dipping follows dunking)

Link:Drug Dosage & Dosing: Recipes & Extracts How to enjoy the fruits of your labor safely (don't overdo it, slow and sure is the best way)

Link:Drying/Storage: Picking/Harvesting What to do with the shrooms when you are successful(you don't have to let the excess rot, you can store it for later instead)

Link:Spores, Prints & Syringes How to make your own syringes from prints and how to get prints from shrooms(become totally self sufficient with this information)

Link:Liquid Culture: Karo/Honey/Dextrose Q&A Ways to increase the amount of inoculate available(grow solution) without buying more syringes or prints(can also be combined with Cloning).

Link:Cloning A way to select the shrooms that do the best with your tek/environment/way of growing(combine with Liquid Culture to massively increase your production)

Link:Gloveboxes & Flowhoods How to eliminate your chances of contams while working with syringes/prints/cloning(A cheap cardboard glovebox is better than the cleanest room)

Link:Casings The next step in to bulk production both indoors and out(get familiar with the previous teks and you will increase your odds of success)

Link:Grain to Grain Transfers (G2G) & SuperSpawning Best ways to create the spawn/substrate for your casings(you can do it with cakes but grain is the best)

Link:Agar, Petri dishes, slants [Strain Isolation] For those who want to take this hobby all the way(scientific method required)

Link:Botanicals Other natural ethnogens(intended to expand your horizons)

Link:Secrecy & Stealth ; Privacy & Security Ideas on how to cover your backside as you participate in this hobby(better to learn from the experiences of others than first hand)

Spore/Supply vendor questions
The "price" is less important than the relationship you
establish with them and your comfort in dealing with them.
We have sponsors/vendors in the USA, Canada and Europe.
You have to determine which one(s) work best in your situation.

Link:Sponsors/Vendors Hippie guaranteed good service and products.
All vendors have been checked out and are monitored. If you
have a problem you can't work out with the vendor directly,
just PM Hippie and he will get it straight for you.
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#14 blackout



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Posted 21 November 2005 - 12:17 PM

The easiest, most foolproof TEK for the beginner is the Standard PF TEK located

I would argue that sclerotia is easier, and more foolproof, also requires less equipment/supplies.
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#15 Guest_Littlejohnnybiggums_*

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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:19 PM

Link: Illustrated TEKs does not work.

Fire fox browser error:

Line : generic, class2.php

Error reported as: [6]: Unable to form a valid connection to mySQL. Please check that your e107_config.php contains the correct information.

#16 Hippie3



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Posted 14 March 2006 - 11:21 PM

needs some editing since moves/upgrades, etc.
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