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A (big handful) of questions [AUS]

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#1 fingers



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Posted 02 July 2006 - 01:12 PM

Hi again guys,
I have a few questions that I have yet to see in the teks and grow threads I’ve read. Some are a bit more specific to Availability limitations attributed to being in Australia, and others to being financially VERY limited in my resources.
As another Australian mycotopia member has found, Ball & Kerr jars are just not available. I have searched far and wide for appropriate jars to no avail. Tried local stores, and ordering from glass product/jar companies with little luck.
Luckily I found a couple of ways around this, such as the Chinese take away (heat resistant) tubs that also happen to be far cheaper then glass.
I found a thread where an Aussie used whiskey glasses with foil only as a lid….this method clearly ‘worked for him, but I’m just a little concerned about ‘foil only’ lids being bait for contams. (This is the thread with the whiskey jars if anyone is interested in seeing it)
I plan on doing approx 20 jars (tubs) using the Chinese take away method.
The PF tek I’m using as my method for this first attempt is this Tek that Python did ( tek guide)
As he hoped it’s very easy and clear for a new guy to follow, but there are a few small variations I’m going to attempt due to the earlier mentioned limitations.
Firstly, I reeeeally don’t have the money ATM for a PC, and have been told by several people and on several threads that (though of course not as good) simply vigorous boiling in a large pot for a longer period of time will be just as effective. I’m planning on a 90 minute boil.
Is it a pointless effort to try to find (or adapt) a large pot with a lockable lid? I don’t mean “airtight” lockable, Just some clips on the sides that I’m hoping might offer greater air protection, and perhaps (this might be totally flawed thinking, excuse me if I’m wrong) that the lid being locked on will offer some minor pressurization.
Secondly, (and this is where I get confused)
In Pythons thread he mentions scrubbing with bleach to clean jars….Should I still do this with brand new Chinese takeaway? Id guess ‘yes’ as these products are Asian factory made and though ‘new and clean’ there would be no guarantee of them being sterile (actually, thinking about it now it seems foolish to think they might be).
Do you scrub pre-boiling your jars (PC’ing them)? Or after?
Also, I really like the ‘foil balls’ method Python used, to keep the jars off the bottom off the pot (P.C in most cases) but am wondering if this ‘might’ be a better method?)
I have found an Asian store which sells small metal racks with feet that u can sit in the bottom of a pot to keep the jars off the bottom. It just appears very stable and as it is stainless steel, obviously easy and fast to sterilize for re-use in future.
Re: a spray to keep things sterile….which is the commonly accepted ‘best option’?
I’ve seen Glen twenty air spray used, (info on Glen twenty, in case its not available outside of Australia, I have no idea if it’s an Aussie brand etc)
I’ve also seen bleach and water mix, isopropyl alcohol spray? Are any accepted as ‘the best’?
I mean I’ll most likely use the beach method, but I can get any of these 3 products easily, is any of them superior to others?
I’m going to get some good quality thick foil, and some medical grade paper type tape, like ankle strapping tape to cover the inoculation point holes in the tubs.
Ummm…what else…
Oh yeah, are the tubs/jars meant to be submerged in the water…they couldn’t be could they? Water would have to enter the holes, am I right?
In which case, how much water should I put in the pot? Cover a certain % of the total height of the jars perhaps? Or am I trying to keep them out of the water and only hit by the steam?
Sorry I’ve read at least a dozen teks, but a few things seem a little hazy still.
I’m working on a design for a transparent plastic sheeting terrarium. Almost like a greenhouse cross terrarium. I think the design I have in mind will work, taking into account all the factors necessary for healthy fruiting. I won’t go into that though. I’ve already asked a lot of questions here.
I hope I haven’t asked too much at once, I just really don’t want to end up with my first grow being a horror story/lesson learnt the hard way etc. If anyone could help me with any of these queries id be very grateful.
I’ve read a fair amount on Mycotopia, but some of these issues…I just haven’t found teks that address them.
Thanks in advance for any info you could share with me. Even without directly answering any questions so many members have taught me A LOT through their teks and grow logs.
Again I thank you guys,
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#2 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 02 July 2006 - 01:20 PM

I edited your post to make it visible. Since black is the background color around here, an all black post is invisible. Writing your post in a word processor with a white background and then pasting it here will result in black text on a black background.

After you write your post and cut/paste it into the browser, press CTRL and HOME at the same time. This will move the cursor to the upper left on the top line of your post. Now press CTRL and SHIFT and END at the same time. This will highlight your entire post.

Now press the "Remove Text Formatting" button (upper left of the post window, right next to the font type and above the captial B for bold). This will remove the black text coloration.

Now to read your post...

#3 eternalfrost



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Posted 02 July 2006 - 02:56 PM

im by no means an expert, but have some experience with pf tek.

-something is either sterile, or not, no shades. so pre bleaching your jars before boiling wont do you any good. obvoiusly, clean any chunks of food or whatever out first, but nothing hardcore is needed as they will be sterilized when boiled.

-just boiling in a pot with a lid (not tied down) works fine when using BRF but not for things like birdseed etc. just put it at a rolling boil for 60-90 min.

-no rack is needed, just toss a hand towel under the jars to keep them off the floor of the pan.

-water should be like an inch to half way up the jars, dosent really matter tho, enough to make steam but not enough to cover jars.

-lysol or oust are they sprays on this side of the world, anything that says something like 'kills 99.9% of germs' is what you want. bleach, iso.alcohol, and flame work for small aplications too.

anyways, most of this stuff is covered in all the standard teks. check out the vaults on this site.



#4 fingers



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Posted 02 July 2006 - 10:38 PM

Sorrrrry Buckaroo :eusa_doh:

I just thought i'd spell check my post to keep it a little tidier. Ive used many forums and never come across this. Sorry to have been a pain in the butt.
Thanks so much for the tips frost. youve definately helped me along the right track. I think sometimes its good to get tips from intermediate level ppl as they seem to explain things from a perspective that a newer person would relate to easily, (thats just my opinion).
Of course our Yoda growers are absolutely invaluable....but I think you may be underestimating just how helpful an intermediate can be to us new guys. (i think that applies in many subjects, Ive come to this way of thinking mostly from hydroponic matters.
Thanks again guys,





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Posted 02 July 2006 - 11:04 PM

I use double layer foil-only lids on my canning jars, held down by the threaded rim. On the drink glasses (I'd use what we call an old-fashioned glass; a whiskey tumbler rather than a shotglass) the trick is going to be getting a tight and secure seal. I'd smooth the foil down reall tight, and then put a couple of mousebelt wire ties around it.

#6 PSyChOViXeNFaIrY616


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Posted 02 July 2006 - 11:42 PM

oiling works fine. i never had contams w/ it.. altho i pretty much friyed my spores haha oh well... ( my 1st attempt...):eusa_doh:

#7 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:09 AM

Not a problem in the slightest, fingers. I do the exact same thing with Word, which is why I recognized the problem instantly. It would make me MUCH happier if more people used spell check! Bad grammar is one of my pet peeves…

#8 fingers



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Posted 03 July 2006 - 12:23 PM

Hi guys,

I was just tonight given a preserving/canning set, and have a few small concerns I’m trying to clear up. Perhaps someone could offer a solution?
I have been studying as much information as I can digest re: mycology, and have until recently used the advice of the grower/spore store owner that I got my prints from as my primary source of ‘problem solving answers’ but no longer trust his information as 100%.
He seems to contradict himself day to day, and suggests methods used by many mycotopia members are laughable.
Personally I’m starting to find him very presumptuous, belittling, and I’ve had about enough of his negative mentality. I’m going to be relying on the friendly advice of all you kind folk :P and would really like to know if any of his negativity about my canning set is valid.

You will see attached images of the two types of jars I was given. The smaller type will hold up to 700ml, and the larger are 1.25 liter. Now I realize these are a little larger then most would use, but am wondering if there is in fact a way to make them work.
As Ball and Kerr Jars are not sold in Australia, and appropriate jars are almost impossible to find, I did resolve to use the Chinese takeaway style tubs as done by some Mycotopia members in past.
According to this gentleman, the suggestion is ridiculous, and the fact that I was able to offer links of successful grows using these T.A tubs did nothing to alter his point of view.
Now I think it’s fair to say, it’s logical to trust a number of ppl whom have used this method, as well as many pics to support their effectiveness, rather then one person who has never even tried it. Would you guys agree?
Also, the jars that came with the canning set have parallel walls/cylindrical/non tapering walls. Will this work for a PF tek? I have been told they will not. Again though, they do appear very much like jars I have seen used by many growers online.
Am I missing something here, or is this guy just full of it?
He has also condemned my canning pot/sterilizer as ineffective and useless for its intended purpose. It is not pressurized (and I do of course realize a PC is far far better) but I have seen many ppl who support the contention that boiling/pasteurizing in such a device should suffice.
I have tested its maximum temp tonight and found it reaches 220-225 F, and am fairly certain that 90 minutes at this temperature will be sufficient. Is this correct?

I have 10 of each sized jar, and am indifferent as which method I use, as long as it’s known to be effective. I was told that any plastic tubs need to have a rating of 6 or higher to be useable, and the tubs I have located have a ‘5’ imprinted on their base. Would these work well?
I have just brought the sterilizer to a vigorous boil (210-220f) and kept 1 empty tub at this temp for approx 10 minutes (for testing purposes only).
The tub of course softened some what whilst hot, but after a few minutes of cooling is in no visually detectable manner affected by the temperature.

Any thoughts on all of this would be much appreciated as I’m becoming growingly displeased with the rudeness of our former tutor. It amazes me how some people derive such pleasure from cutting down another persons every word in such reptilian fashion.
Or as Kamal said… ‘Why are people so unkind’ :P

Thank you kindly for taking the time to read and offer any advice or suggestions,


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#9 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 03 July 2006 - 01:37 PM

The purple looks much better than the black!

But seriously, dude. Opinions are like assholes. Everybody has one and the vast majority of them stink.

Most of the “facts” you will find in this hobby are really opinions; there are very few absolute givens in mycology, even amongst the well learned professionals. Home cultivation is continuously evolving.

I wouldn’t say you should automatically disregard your friend’s advice. But when you hear someone calling ridiculous an idea you have seen pictures of working, you should maybe take that person’s advice a little less seriously.

I tend to automatically pay less attention to people who are dismissive of new ideas instead of being willing to discuss them. I tend to pay a lot less attention to people who insist on railing on about how one Tek (usually their own Tek) is the only way to do it “right.” I tend to out right ignore people who dismiss photographic evidence.

One of my very favorite things about Mycotopia is the fact that EVERYBODY gets to have their say here (as long as they don’t insist on being assholes about it). The audience can realize that all the presentations are just opinions and draw their own conclusions.

That said, realize that some opinions carry more weight than others. A suggestion offered by somebody with a proven track record should be considered more carefully than a suggestion offered by somebody without demonstrable results. That doesn’t mean you should ignore anybody who doesn’t have 10 grow logs published. But it does mean that you should pay particular attention when Hippie3 comments – the man knows his stuff.

YES, a PC is more reliable than steam sterilization. BUT, steam sterilization can be completely effective with BRF substrates. If you do a 3 day fractional process, steam can be used to prepare grains as well.

Those jars are a good shape for cakes (no shoulders), but the tall one is a little bit excessively tall. You might have problems getting it to colonize completely. Are you planning to drill holes in those lids for inoculation and fresh air? The shorter jar looks like it would work fine.

90 minutes of hot steam in that puppy should work fine.

As to why some people draw pleasure from denigrating the ideas of others…I can’t really say. I can tell you what kind of response people like that get around here…

Keep reading, absorbing and asking questions, dude. There are literally hundreds of different ways to skin this “home cultivation” cat. You’ll get there.

#10 max



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Posted 03 July 2006 - 02:10 PM

Bottom line is, you can grow mycelium in practically any kind of container. The mycelium doesn't know if it's enclosed in a proper Kerr tapered jar or a paper cup! Likewise, a boiling pot of water will work perfectly fine most times. But if you really want to have your best shot at success, use the right jars, that taper can make a big difference when trying to birth the cake. And a pressure cooker, besides doing a better job of sterilization jars, also comes in handy when cleaning jars that held contaminates or sterilizing equipment such as used syringes. You can even cook in it! Try your local thrift shop for a used one at a reasonable price.

#11 cheech


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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:15 PM

i think 90 minutes is far too long. i've always steamed brf jars (1/2 pint) for 45 min and let sit until cool with the lid on. never had a contamination out of many many jars.

#12 golly



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Posted 03 July 2006 - 04:46 PM

As for the plastic take out tubs ,,they will hold up fine as long as u dont stack them more than 2 layers as the lids tend to buckle under the weight.
.At least in a PC they do...u may be able to go 3 layers just steaming..
I think i would prefer the tubs over those jars for cakes ,because of their shape...The pp5 code on the bottom is good enough....gluk..

#13 fingers



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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:25 PM

Thanks for the responses/tips and suggestions guys,

Buckaroo, I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts on negative people. In matters such hydroponics, mycology, or any similar type matters/interests I try to keep a very scientific type of thinking in place (within the bounds of my limited scientific knowledge of course).
I make my best attempt to study the evidence, and use logical methods supported by thorough and reputable research. (As well as possible)
To dismiss a theory without even studying the evidence is not consistent with good research (IMO). So I have (you suggested buck) began to take his thoughts far less seriously.

I’ll have to look up the definition of a ‘fractional process’ buck. If I had to guess I would think it’s something to do with sterilization several times perhaps? (Then again that could well be totally wrong). Id is very interested in hearing about it if you could spare the time to explain it a little?

As for your thoughts Max, I couldn’t agree more with your thoughts (based on my limited knowledge of course). I really do want to buy myself a P.C and have done some price shopping. As yet I’ve been unable to find one at a price I can afford this time around.
Ideally I’d like to buy a pressure cooker or even pressure canner, but the finances just don’t allow ATM.
I’m also very tempted to order some Ball jars from overseas, but again the finances are very limited ATM. My plan is to do my best effort with what’s available/affordable at this point in time. And invest additional moneys in a few months after my first attempt has come to completion.
That’s an interesting suggestion Cheese. I’ve never heard anyone suggest using less then 60 minutes with the steaming method. Personally I don’t mind waiting an additional 15-45 minutes if that gives me a higher possibility of successful sterilization.
I’ve read in a professional mushroom cultivation text I was given that some growers will go to extreme lengths to avoid contams, yet still have serious problems. While others will be very casual about the issue and find little to no comtam problems. I’m a big believer in the ‘better safe then sorry’ motto, so I think I’ll stick to a high degree of caution (even bordering on overkill).

Thank you so much for that tip also Golly. As you know I’m a BIG fan of your work :P I probably would have tried stacking them high and learned that lesson the hard way.
Oh BTW, them manure cakes on a grate/mesh have been added to my cultivation images folder and is easily in the top 3 pics (IMO).

Thanks a ton guys!


#14 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 04 July 2006 - 08:38 PM

You pretty much guessed it. Fractional sterilization just means steaming the jar for 60-90 minutes three days in a row. The idea is that steam sterilization can’t kill the really persnickety spores, but it can kill them after they germinate. The first day, the easy stuff is killed and conditions are ripe for the nasties to grow. Then, the second day, those hatched nasties are killed. By the third day, all the nasties should have had time to hatch and, subsequently, be killed by the steaming process.

It is a very old method, but also extensively tested and proven. It is a much larger PITA than one pressure cooker run – but that does not mean it will not work.

I have never steamed jars but I would go a minimum of 60 minutes if I did. The more contamination vectors you are careful to control, the better off you are. It is never a good idea to slack on cleanliness.

#15 fingers



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Posted 05 July 2006 - 09:07 AM

That’s a great thing to know Buck, thanks once again,

I might do the fractional method with my tubs (then again that might be a little overkill, what do you think?
Today I went to pick up my BRF…and found that my order had been misplaced :S
As an alternative I did a window shop for a coffee grinder and managed to find a $13 AUD (approx $9 USD), and it works perfectly! Finding BRF at low cost has been impossible, so the coffee grinder has saved us money already.
The brown rice we’ve bought (and ordered more of) is called ‘Bio Dynamic’ Brown rice, and apparently has been grown in organically nourished soils to a level that increases the goodness of rice substantially whilst remaining all natural (according to the friendly health food store manager).
There are absolutely no added fungicides, pesticides, or other sprays of any form. So I’m confident that this will be the best option available to me.
Below I have inserted photos of the Coffee Grinder and rice (just for interest’s sake).
The grinder does not hold a large amount of rice, but works very fast and very effectively. All in all I managed to grind this one kilo bag in 10-15 minutes. I should have the other 4 kilos within several days. The whole 5 kilo’s cost me under $20 AUD (approx $15 USD).So I’m pretty happy with that.
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I have a 100 liter bag of Vermiculite coming to a local hydroponics store tomorrow at the cost price of just under $35 AUD. I did find a large hardware store/nursery that stocks vermic, but the total cost of a large quantity would be far higher then the hydro store (to my surprise).

As the Vermiculite is measured in Liters I’m a little unsure of jus how much to buy, but I’m thinking a 100 liter bag should be enough for the grow I plan to do.
I’ve decided to use my ten 600ml jars, ten Chinese take away tubs ( 500 ml), and ten thick walled drinking glasses (400 ml) (15 liters total).

If I could I’d like to clear my calculations with you guys, because I really want to do this right.
From the information I have, I need 53% Vermiculite, 20% BRF, and 27% Water.
Meaning, in 15 liters of volume, I would use (rounded off)
8 liters of Vermic
3 liters of BRF
4 liters of Water
Total being 15 liters of course which is the total volume of the jars, plastic tubs, and drinking glasses. The reason why I’ve decided to use ten of each container is simply as a test of which method works best for me. In future I’d like to order some Ball or Kerr jars from somewhere/someone overseas, but for now I’d really like to know which container (of those available) works best for me. This is probably not the wisest choice all factors considered, but I’d really like to know which is the most effective of the three containers. (If for any reason this is a completely foolish idea, please feel free to say so. I’m here to learn from you guys who are so much more knowledgeable of mycology then me), and I’m not an easy person to offend. So let it fly if I’m getting it wrong :P

Oh btw, I have secured a large number of Terumo medical syringes of varying sizes. I have 1, 3, 5 and 10 cc/ml syringes. All new and sealed in their packs. I have 19guage, 23g, 25g, and 27g tips. I’d really like to know if any of these are more effective or better suited to our purposes then others. I have seen mention of 5ml and 10ml syringes across the forums, but I can’t work out why differing sizes are used. Any insights would be much appreciated.

I have an ongoing cheap and legitimate supply of these from a friend who works in the medical field, and as such can secure many varieties of them in small or large quantities. It’s not my intention to post off topic, but I thought I’d just mention, I will be posting a ‘sell, swap/trade’ thread in the market place section. Please keep an eye out for it if you’re in need of syringes or tips. (If even this mention/paragraph is a breach of rules please feel free to delete it and accept my apologies).

Anyway, I’m working on a box to incubate my jars/tubs in. It’s basically a large beer cooler (‘esky’ in Aussie lingo :P). I’ve yet to work out how to heat this but am thinking I could simply keep the room they are stored in at ideal temp. I’m hoping to work out a more energy efficient method as heating an entire house to keep an area of a few feet squared is a little foolish. Perhaps one of my aquarium heaters suspended in one of my 1.25 liter jars could suffice for now until I’ve come across a better method. (Again any suggestions would be fantastic if you could).

Thank you again for all the tips everyone (buckaroo especially, always there with logical and intelligent answers for me, you’re a lifesaver buddy, thank you). (Please don’t get me wrong though guys, of course everyone else who’s shared their thoughts are very appreciated also)

That said,

Bye for now guys n gurls! :teeth:


#16 BuckarooBanzai


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Posted 05 July 2006 - 10:23 AM

Steaming will work with BRF, but you will have to get a PC or do fractional if you want to work with grains (popcorn, rye, etc.). Fractional can be used with BRF, but it is total overkill.

One minor suggestion: FOAF likes a rather rough grind with his rice, so that some kernels are left in pretty large chunks. Powder will work JUST FINE, but rough grind seems to work a tad better. Good score on the coffee grinder. Makes reducing dry fruit to powder for tea/capsules MUCH easier later on…

100 liters of Verm should last you quite a while. Always shop around. Sometimes the specialty stores are actually a good big cheaper on certain items. Sometimes mail order is the cheapest route – you’ll never know if you don’t look.

The standard recipe for BRF cakes is:

2 parts vermiculite
1 part BRF
1 part water

When my FOAF does “standard” cakes, he likes to mix the water and verm first and then sprinkle on the BRF powder slowly. He stirs like crazy and then lets everything sit, covered, for 30 minutes so the water can be fully absorbed. He then stirs again and uses the BRF mix immediately.

But, FOAF hasn't done "standard" cakes in a while. He uses Hippie3's "Mycrotopia Substrate" pretty much exclusively at this point.

Coolers work great as incubators. Heat bombs (fish tank heater in a sealed jar) are a great heat source. Just don’t try to use electric blankts/heat pads (MAJOR fire risk).

The container you put the heater in must be sealed up tight, or your incubator will very quickly rise to 100% humidity and start raining inside (very, very, very bad).

Heatbomb: bomb

You might consider a small computer fan in the incubator to keep the air stirred up and the heat distributed. Heat bombs are quite bad about forming hot spots in a dead air space.

No problemo on the answers, dude. Answering questions is 95% of what we mods are here for!

#17 fingers



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Posted 06 July 2006 - 10:12 AM

Thanks again buckaroony, helpful as always.

Today was fairly productive, we got our 100L vermic., chinese take away tubs (rating 5, very thick and sturdy feeling:)), a cabinet/cupboard and styrene foam boxes to use as insulation and a good basic supply of cleaning products(bleach, paper towel, scourers etc.) so we're pretty damn close to making this happen.

below you will see images (as always:P) of the cupboard and foam we plan to build into an incubator. could you please have a look and give me your thoughts on the best manner in which to build this?

the options i've considered are two compartments within the one cabinet, or knock out the center walls and use it as one large compartment. as you can see one foam beer cooler fits almost perfectly in half the compartment, and the other half can be lined with the foam boxes.
The drawbacks I've considered are reduced air flow/circulation. And needing to heat both compartments seperately. This would require the use of both of my aquarium heaters (meaning i'd need to buy 2 more for my hydro setup).
Your thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

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If the foam boxes were a couple of inches bigger the effort to build this thing would be soooo much easier! doh

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This shot gives you a better sense of depth i think, at this stage i think one compartment is the way I'm gonna go.

Second issue is my vermiculite. I'm fairly certain it is too course straight out of the bag, so I've ground a sample into several consistencies could you give me your thoughts on which level of grinding i should employ.(if any at all)

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This vermiculite is straight out of the bag.
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This is after a slight grind. I was going to take images of several degrees of courseness, but them bloody batteries died.

Final issue is my steriliser. I've located a local store that i can buy a 15L P.C at $150 AUD (approx.$110 USD) but this is still a little out of our price range.
Last night I noticed a new thin powder coat of rust in the steriliser which has concerned me greatly. I was very tempted to just buy a large pot as a makeshift steriliser but came up with a possible solution.
We found a product called 'Hi Temp' (heat resistant paint) it's a 'White Knight' brand paint. It withstands up to 1000F (540C), 100% silicon based and is recommended for use in boilers, ovens and slow combustion stoves.
I'm fairly confident this will work well, but until i've given it a go who knows. I'll keep you guys informed.
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P.S i wanted to do a before and after but the damn camera chews through batteries.

Thanks again, and fare thee well

Fingers :teeth:

#18 nomoreusmc



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Posted 06 July 2006 - 11:14 AM

I like to mix my verm, some coures, some medium, some fine. It seems to make the cakes colinize faster.

#19 fingers



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Posted 06 July 2006 - 11:30 AM

Hmm, interesting nomo,

Thats interesting actually, it sounds logical that a certain degree of irregularity would be sensible. Ive heard it said that BRF with slightly irregularity in the consistency is a wise option.
I dont see why it shouldn't work for vermic. Thanks for the tip.
I still have a couple of days befor I make my mix though (I'm a kilo short of BRF, close but no cigar for a couple of days it seems).
So i'll be very curious to hear what buck and anyone else thinks and if they've had the same results as you nomo. It sounds solid, but I always like to get a second opion on things Ive never heard b4.

Thanks nomo :)

#20 nomoreusmc



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Posted 06 July 2006 - 11:39 AM

Yeah alot of people do that with their brf, BTW I had that same grinder, don't let it get too hot, mine started to smoke!!

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