How to grow mushroom?

Contents

How long does it take to grow mushrooms?

Friday, January 18, 2008

How long does it take to grow mushrooms? This is a frequently asked question from mushroom consumers. The answer is, it depends. Each mushroom farm is different. There are many factors to consider including quality of raw materials, processing equipment, and various methods used in each step.

At our facility, it takes about 80 days from the start of composting to the final day of harvesting the mushrooms. There 5 basic steps in the growing cycle, including:

  1. Phase I – Composting (19-22 days)
  2. Phase II – Pasteurization (8 days)
  3. Spawning (13-14 days)
  4. Casing (17 days)
  5. Harvesting (21 days)

Each step plays an important role in the quality and yield of the mushroom crop. To learn more about these steps, please read Basic Procedures for Agaricus Mushroom Growing, provided by Penn State University.

So, it takes almost 60 days to begin harvesting. Once harvested, mushrooms enjoy a 9-10 day shelf life. Sure seems like a lot of work for such short period of enjoyment. We hope this helps you further understand the growing process of mushrooms, and as always this encourages you to …eat more mushrooms!

Six Steps to Mushroom Farming

The Pennsylvania State University,
College of Agriculture, Extension Service,
University Park, Pennsylvania

Mushroom farming consists of six steps, and although the divisions are somewhat arbitrary, these steps identify what is needed to form a production system.

The six steps of mushroom farming:

Phase I

1. Composting

Phase II

2. Composting
3. Spawning
4. Casing
5. Pinning
6. Cropping

These steps are described in their naturally occurring sequence, emphasizing the salient features within each step. Compost provides nutrients needed for mushrooms to grow. Two types of material are generally used for mushroom compost, the most used and least expensive being wheat straw-bedded horse manure. Synthetic compost is usually made from hay and crushed corncobs, although the term often refers to any mushroom compost where the prime ingredient is not horse manure. Both types of compost require the addition of nitrogen supplements and a conditioning agent, gypsum.

The preparation of compost occurs in two steps referred to as Phase I and Phase II composting. The discussion of compost preparation and mushroom production begins with Phase I composting.

Phase I:

1. Making Mushroom Compost

This phase of compost preparation usually occurs outdoors although an enclosed building or a structure with a roof over it may be used. A concrete slab, referred to as a wharf, is required for composting. In addition, a compost turner to aerate and water the ingredients, and a tractor-loader to move the ingredients to the turner is needed. In earlier days piles were turned by hand using pitchforks, which is still an alternative to mechanized equipment, but it is labor intensive and physically demanding.

Phase I composting is initiated by mixing and wetting the ingredients as they are stacked in a rectangular pile with tight sides and a loose center. Normally, the bulk ingredients are put through a compost turner. Water is sprayed onto the horse manure or synthetic compost as these materials move through the turner. Nitrogen supplements and gypsum are spread over the top of the bulk ingredients and are thoroughly mixed by the turner. Once the pile is wetted and formed, aerobic fermentation (composting) commences as a result of the growth and reproduction of microorganisms, which occur naturally in the bulk ingredients. Heat, ammonia, and carbon dioxide are released as by-products during this process. Compost activators, other than those mentioned, are not needed, although some organic farming books stress the need for an “activator.”

Mushroom compost develops as the chemical nature of the raw ingredients is converted by the activity of microorganisms, heat, and some heat-releasing chemical reactions. These events result in a food source most suited for the growth of the mushroom to the exclusion of other fungi and bacteria. There must be adequate moisture, oxygen, nitrogen, and carbohydrates present throughout the process, or else the process will stop. This is why water and supplements are added periodically, and the compost pile is aerated as it moves through the turner.

Gypsum is added to minimize the greasiness compost normally tends to have. Gypsum increases the flocculation of certain chemicals in the compost, and they adhere to straw or hay rather than filling the pores (holes) between the straws. A side benefit of this phenomenon is that air can permeate the pile more readily, and air is essential to the composting process. The exclusion of air results in an airless (anaerobic) environment in which deleterious chemical compounds are formed which detract from the selectivity of mushroom compost for growing mushrooms. Gypsum is added at the outset of composting at 40 lbs. per ton of dry ingredients.

Nitrogen supplements in general use today include brewer’s grain, seed meals of soybeans, peanuts, or cotton, and chicken manure, among others. The purpose of these supplements is to increase the nitrogen content to 1.5 percent for horse manure or 1.7 percent for synthetic, both computed on a dry weight basis. Synthetic compost requires the addition of ammonium nitrate or urea at the outset of composting to provide the compost microflora with a readily available form of nitrogen for their growth and reproduction.

Corn cobs are sometimes unavailable or available at a price considered to be excessive. Substitutes for or complements to corn cobs include shredded hardwood bark, cottonseed hulls, neutralized grape pomace, and cocoa bean hulls. Management of a compost pile containing any one of these materials is unique in the requirements for watering and the interval between turning.

The initial compost pile should be 5 to 6 feet wide, 5 to 6 feet high, and as long as necessary. A two-sided box can be used to form the pile (rick), although some turners are equipped with a “ricker” so a box isn’t needed. The sides of the pile should be firm and dense, yet the center must remain loose throughout Phase I composting. As the straw or hay softens during composting, the materials become less rigid and compactions can easily occur. If the materials become too compact, air cannot move through the pile and an anaerobic environment will develop.

Turning and watering are done at approximately 2-day intervals, but not unless the pile is hot (145° to 170°F). Turning provides the opportunity to water, aerate, and mix the ingredients, as well as to relocate the straw or hay from a cooler to a warmer area in the pile, outside versus inside. Supplements are also added when the ricks are turned, but they should be added early in the composting process. The number of turnings and the time between turnings depends on the condition of the starting material and the time necessary for the compost to heat to temperatures above 145°F.

Water addition is critical since too much will exclude oxygen by occupying the pore space, and too little can limit the growth of bacteria and fungi. As a general rule, water is added up to the point of leaching when the pile is formed and at the time of first turning, and thereafter either none or only a little is added for the duration of composting. On the last turning before Phase II composting, water can be applied generously so that when the compost is tightly squeezed, water drips from it. There is a link between water, nutritive value, microbial activity, and temperature, and because it is a chain, when one condition is limiting for one factor, the whole chain will cease to function. Biologists see this phenomenon repeatedly and have termed it the Law of Limiting Factors.

Phase I composting lasts from 7 to 14 days, depending on the nature of the material at the start and its characteristics at each turn. There is a strong ammonia odor associated with composting, which is usually complemented by a sweet, moldy smell. When compost temperatures are 155°F and higher, and ammonia is present, chemical changes occur which result in a food rather exclusively used by the mushrooms. As a by-product of the chemical changes, heat is released and the compost temperatures increase. Temperatures in the compost can reach 170° to 180°F during the second and third turnings when a desirable level of biological and chemical activity is occurring. At the end of Phase I the compost should: a) have a chocolate brown color; b) have soft, pliable straws, c) have a moisture content of from 68 to 74 percent; and d) have a strong smell of ammonia. When the moisture, temperature, color, and odor described have been reached, Phase I composting is completed.

Phase II:

2. Finishing the Compost

There are two major purposes to Phase II composting. Pasteurization is necessary to kill any insects, nematodes, pest fungi, or other pests that may be present in the compost. And second, it is necessary to remove the ammonia which formed during Phase I composting. Ammonia at the end of Phase II in a concentration higher than 0.07 percent is often lethal to mushroom spawn growth, thus it must be removed; generally, a person can smell ammonia when the concentration is above 0.10 percent.

Phase II takes place in one of three places, depending on the type of production system used. For the zoned system of growing, compost is packed into wooden trays, the trays are stacked six to eight high, and are moved into an environmentally controlled Phase II room. Thereafter, the trays are moved to special rooms, each designed to provide the optimum environment for each step of the mushroom growing process. With a bed or shelf system, the compost is placed directly in the beds, which are in the room used for all steps of the crop culture. The most recently introduced system, the bulk system, is one in which the compost is placed in a cement-block bin with a perforated floor and no cover on top of the compost; this is a room specifically designed for Phase II composting.

The compost, whether placed in beds, trays, or bulk, should be filled uniformly in depth and density or compression. Compost density should allow for gas exchange, since ammonia and carbon dioxide will be replaced by outside air.

Phase II composting can be viewed as a controlled, temperature-dependent, ecological process using air to maintain the compost in a temperature range best suited for the de-ammonifying organisms to grow and reproduce. The growth of these thermophilic (heat-loving) organisms depends on the availability of usable carbohydrates and nitrogen, some of the nitrogen in the form of ammonia.

Optimum management for Phase II is difficult to define and most commercial growers tend toward one of the two systems in general use today: high temperature or low temperature.

A high temperature Phase II system involves an initial pasteurization period during which the compost and the air temperature are raised to at least 145°F for 6 hours. This can be accomplished by heat generated during the growth of naturally occurring microorganisms or by injecting steam into the room where the compost has been placed, or both. After pasteurization, the compost is re-conditioned by immediately lowering the temperature to 140°F by flushing the room with fresh air. Thereafter, the compost is allowed to cool gradually at a rate of approximately 2° to 3°F each day until all the ammonia is dissipated. This Phase II system requires approximately 10 to 14 days to complete.

In the low temperature Phase II system the compost temperature is initially increased to about 126°F with steam or by the heat released via microbial growth, after which the air temperature is lowered so the compost is in a temperature range of 125° to 130°F range. During the 4 to 5 days after pasteurization, the compost temperature may be lowered by about 2°F a day until the ammonia is dissipated.

It is important to remember the purposes of Phase II when trying to determine the proper procedure and sequence to follow. One purpose is to remove unwanted ammonia. To this end the temperature range from 125° to 130°F is most efficient since de-ammonifying organisms grow well in this temperature range. A second purpose of Phase II is to remove any pests present in the compost by use of a pasteurization sequence.
At the end of Phase II the compost temperature must be lowered to approximately 75° to 80°F before spawning (planting) can begin. The nitrogen content of the compost should be 2.0 to 2.4 percent, and the moisture content between 68 and 72 percent. Also, at the end of Phase II it is desirable to have 5 to 7 lbs. of dry compost per square foot of bed or tray surface to obtain profitable mushroom yields. It is important to have both the compost and the compost temperatures uniform during the Phase II process since it is desirable to have as homogenous a material as possible.

3. Spawning

Mushroom compost must be inoculated with mushroom spawn (Latin expandere = to spread out) if one expects mushrooms to grow. The mushroom itself is the fruit of a plant as tomatoes are of tomato plants. Within the tomato one finds seeds, and these are used to start the next season’s crop. Microscopic spores form within a mushroom cap, but their small size precludes handling them like seeds. As the tomato comes from a plant with roots, stems, and leaves, the mushroom arises from thin, thread-like cells called mycelium. Fungus mycelium is the white, thread-like plant often seen on rotting wood or moldy bread. Mycelium can be propagated vegetatively, like separating daffodil bulbs and getting more daffodil plants. Specialized facilities are required to propagate mycelium, so the mushroom mycelium does not get mixed with the mycelium of other fungi. Mycelium propagated vegetatively is known as spawn, and commercial mushroom farmers purchase spawn from any of about a dozen spawn companies.

Spawn makers start the spawn-making process by sterilizing a mixture of rye grain plus water and chalk; wheat, millet, and other small grain may be substituted for rye. Sterilized horse manure formed into blocks was used as the growth medium for spawn up to about 1940, and this was called block or brick spawn, or manure spawn; such spawn is uncommon now. Once sterilized grain has a bit of mycelium added to it, the grain and mycelium is shaken 3 times at 4-day intervals over a 14-day period of active mycelial growth. Once the grain is colonized by the mycelium, the product is called spawn. Spawn can be refrigerated for a few months, so spawn is made in advance of a farmer’s order for spawn.

In the United States, mushroom growers have a choice of four major mushroom cultivars: a) Smooth white – cap smooth, cap and stalk white; b) Off-white – cap scaly with stalk and cap white; c) Cream – cap smooth to scaly with stalk white and cap white to cream; and d) Brown – cap smooth, cap chocolate brown with a white stalk. Within each of the four major groups, there are various isolates, so a grower may have a choice of up to eight smooth white strains. The isolates vary in flavor, texture, and cultural requirements, but they are all mushrooms. Generally, white and off-white cultivars are used for processed foods like soups and sauces, but all isolates are good eating as fresh mushrooms.

Spawn is distributed on the compost and then thoroughly mixed into the compost. For years this was done by hand, broadcasting the spawn over the surface of the compost and ruffling it in with a small rake-like tool. In recent years, however, for the bed system, spawn is mixed into the compost by a special spawning machine which mixes the compost and spawn with tines or small finger-like devices. In a tray or batch system, spawn is mixed into the compost as it moves along a conveyer belt or while falling from a conveyor into a tray. The spawning rate is expressed as a unit or quart per so many square feet of bed surface; 1 unit per 10 ft is desirable. The rate is sometimes expressed on the basis of spawn weight versus compost weight; a 2 percent spawning rate is desirable.

Once the spawn has been mixed throughout the compost and the compost worked so the surface is level, the compost temperature is maintained at 75°F and the relative humidity is kept high to minimize drying of the compost surface or the spawn. Under these conditions the spawn will grow – producing a thread-like network of mycelium throughout the compost. The mycelium grows in all directions from a spawn grain, and eventually the mycelium from the different spawn grains fuse together, making a spawned bed of compost one biological entity. The spawn appears as a white to blue-white mass throughout the compost after fusion has occurred. As the spawn grows it generates heat, and if the compost temperature increases to above 80° to 85°F, depending on the cultivar, the heat may kill or damage the mycelium and eliminate the possibility of maximum crop productivity and/or mushroom quality. At temperatures below 74°F, spawn growth is slowed and the time interval between spawning and harvesting is extended.

The time needed for spawn to colonize the compost depends on the spawning rate and its distribution, the compost moisture and temperature, and the nature or quality of the compost. A complete spawn run usually requires 14 to 21 days. Once the compost is fully grown with spawn, the next step in production is at hand.

4. Casing

Casing is a top-dressing applied to the spawn-run compost on which the mushrooms eventually form. Clay-loam field soil, a mixture of peat moss with ground limestone, or reclaimed weathered, spent compost can be used as casing. Casing does not need nutrients since casing act as a water reservoir and a place where rhizomorphs form. Rhizomorphs look like thick strings and form when the very fine mycelium fuses together. Mushroom initials, primordia, or pins form on the rhizomorphs, so without rhizomorphs there will be no mushrooms. Casing should be pasteurized to eliminate any insects and pathogens it may be carrying. Also, it is important that the casing be distributed so the depth is uniform over the surface of the compost. Such uniformity allows the spawn to move into and through the casing at the same rate and, ultimately, for mushrooms to develop at the same time. Casing should be able to hold moisture since moisture is essential for the development of a firm mushroom.

Managing the crop after casing requires that the compost temperature be kept at around 75°F for up to 5 days after casing, and the relative humidity should be high. Thereafter, the compost temperature should be lowered about 2°F each day until small mushroom initials (pins) have formed. Throughout the period following casing, water must be applied intermittently to raise the moisture level to field capacity before the mushroom pins form. Knowing when, how, and how much water to apply to casing is an “art form” which readily separates experienced growers from beginners.

5. Pinning

Mushroom initials develop after rhizomorphs have formed in the casing. The initials are extremely small but can be seen as outgrowths on a rhizomorph. Once an initial quadruples in size, the structure is a pin. Pins continue to expand and grow larger through the button stage, and ultimately a button enlarges to a mushroom. Harvestable mushrooms appear 18 to 21 days after casing. Pins develop when the carbon dioxide content of room air is lowered to 0.08 percent or lower, depending on the cultivar, by introducing fresh air into the growing room. Outside air has a carbon dioxide content of about 0.04 percent.

The timing of fresh air introduction is very important and is something learned only through experience. Generally, it is best to ventilate as little as possible until the mycelium has begun to show at the surface of the casing, and to stop watering at the time when pin initials are forming. If the carbon dioxide is lowered too early by airing too soon, the mycelium stops growing through the casing and mushroom initials form below the surface of the casing. As such mushrooms continue to grow, they push through the casing and are dirty at harvest time. Too little moisture can also result in mushrooms forming below the surface of the casing. Pinning affects both the potential yield and quality of a crop and is a significant step in the production cycle.

6. Cropping

The terms flush, break, or bloom are names given to the repeating 3- to 5-day harvest periods during the cropping cycle; these are followed by a few days when no mushrooms are available to harvest. This cycle repeats itself in a rhythmic fashion, and harvesting can go on as long as mushrooms continue to mature. Most mushroom farmers harvest for 35 to 42 days, although some harvest a crop for 60 days, and harvest can go on for as long as 150 days.

Air temperature during cropping should be held between 57° to 62°F for good results. This temperature range not only favors mushroom growth, but cooler temperatures can lengthen the life cycles of both disease pathogens and insects pests. It may seem odd that there are pests which can damage mushrooms, but no crop is grown that does not have to compete with other organisms. Mushroom pests can cause total crop failures, and often the deciding factor on how long to harvest a crop is based on the level of pest infestation. These pathogens and insects can be controlled by cultural practices coupled with the use of pesticides, but it is most desirable to exclude these organisms from the growing rooms.

The relative humidity in the growing rooms should be high enough to minimize the drying of casing but not so high as to cause the cap surfaces of developing mushrooms to be clammy or sticky. Water is applied to the casing so water stress does not hinder the developing mushrooms; in commercial practice this means watering 2 to 3 times each week. Each watering may consist of more or fewer gallons, depending on the dryness of the casing, the cultivar being grown, and the stage of development of the pins, buttons, or mushrooms. Most first-time growers apply too much water and the surface of the casing seals; this is seen as a loss of texture at the surface of the casing. Sealed casing prevents the exchange of gases essential for mushroom pin formation. One can estimate how much water to add after first break has been harvested by realizing that 90 percent of the mushroom is water and a gallon of water weight 8.3 lbs. If 100 lbs. of mushrooms were harvested, 90 lbs. of water (11 gal.) were removed from the casing; and this is what must be replaced before second break mushrooms develop.

Outside air is used to control both the air and compost temperatures during the harvest period. Outside air also displaces the carbon dioxide given off by the growing mycelium. The more mycelial growth, the more carbon dioxide produced, and since more growth occurs early in the crop, more fresh air is needed during the first two breaks. The amount of fresh air also depends on the growing mushrooms, the area of the producing surface, the amount of compost in the growing room, and the condition or composition of the fresh air being introduced. Experience seems to be the best guide regarding the volume of air required, but there is a rule of thumb: 0.3ft/hr when the compost is 8 inches deep, and of this volume 50 to 100 percent must be outside air.

A question frequently arises concerning the need for illumination while the mushrooms grow. Mushrooms do not require light to grow, only green plants require light for photosynthesis. Growing rooms can be illuminated to facilitate harvesting or cropping practices, but it is more common for workers or mushroom farmers to be furnished with miner’s lamps rather than illuminating an entire room.

Ventilation is essential for mushroom growing, and it is also necessary to control humidity and temperature. Moisture can be added to the air by a cold mist or by live steam, or simply by wetting the walls and floors. Moisture can be removed from the growing room by: 1) admitting a greater volume of outside air; 2) introducing drier air; 3) moving the same amount of outside air and heating it to a higher temperature since warmer air holds more moisture and thus lowers the relative humidity. Temperature control in a mushroom growing room is no different from temperature control in your home. Heat can originate from hot water circulated through pipes mounted on the walls. Hot, forced air can be blown through a ventilation duct, which is rather common at more recently built mushroom farms. There are a few mushroom farms located in limestone caves where the rock acts as both a heating and cooling surface depending on the time of year. Caves of any sort are not necessarily suited for mushroom growing, and abandoned coal mines have too many intrinsic problems to be considered as viable sites for a mushroom farm. Even limestone caves require extensive renovation and improvement before they are suitable for mushroom growing, and only the growing occurs in the cave with composting taking place above ground on a wharf.

Mushrooms are harvested in a 7- to 10-day cycle, but this may be longer or shorter depending on the temperature, humidity, cultivar, and the stage when they are picked. When mature mushrooms are picked, an inhibitor to mushroom development is removed and the next flush moves toward maturity. Mushrooms are normally picked at a time when the veil is not too far extended. Consumers in North America want closed, tight, mushrooms while in England and Australia open, flat mushrooms are desired. The maturity of a mushroom is assessed by how far the veil is stretched, and not by how large the mushroom is. Consequently, mature mushrooms are both large and small, although farmers and consumers alike prefer medium- to large-size mushrooms.

Picking and packaging methods often vary from farm to farm. Freshly harvested mushrooms must be kept refrigerated at 35° to 45°F. To prolong the shelf life of mushrooms, it is important that mushrooms “breathe” after harvest, so storage in a nonwaxed paper bag is preferred to a plastic bag.

After the last flush of mushrooms has been picked, the growing room should be closed off and the room pasteurized with steam. This final pasteurization is designed to destroy any pests which may be present in the crop or the woodwork in the growing room, thus minimizing the likelihood of infesting the next crop.

Conclusion

It takes approximately 15 weeks to complete an entire production cycle, from the start of composting to the final steaming off after harvesting has ended. For this work a mushroom grower can expect anywhere from 0 to 4 lbs. per square foot; the national average for 1980 was 3.12 lbs. per square foot. Final yield depends on how well a grower has monitored and controlled the temperature, humidity, pests, and so on. All things considered, the most important factors for good production appear to be experience plus an intuitive feel for the biological rhythms of the commercial mushroom. The production system used to grow a crop can be chosen after the basics of mushroom growing is understood.

How to grow your own psychedelic mushrooms

If you want to be independent from the trove of fungi out in nature and the offerings from some Smart Shops in specific countries, it is recommended to create your own fungi culture at home. For each species there are specific methods of cultivating. The psychedelic mushrooms which are cultivated the most are Psilocybe cubensis, also called the “Mexican”. The reason why they are that known is that they’re quite easy to grow under controlled circumstances. In Europe they can only be cultivated indoors. On the other hand, there are other species which can grow easily outdoors. Psilocybe cyanescens are native fungi which are growing on wood chips just as the Psilocybe azurescens does. However, the methods to cultivate the two last once is quite different to the technique to grow Psilocybe cubensis.
In general, growing your own fungi is a little bit more difficult than growing your own cannabis. Before you start with the fungi culture one must be aware of certain rules and work very precisely. Most of the time the biggest issue is working sterile. If one is starting with the cultivation, you realize pretty fast that fungi cultures are liable for bacteria and mold. Even if you work really properly and sterile your glass with the culture can still get infected. Nevertheless, don’t get discouraged! Always take note of what you’re doing and what went wrong. Try to learn from your mistake.

Instruction to cultivate your own fungi

Source: The following technique was published for the first time in Seattle in September 1991 under the name PF TEK (Psylocybe Fanaticus technique). Around 1998 more than half a million of examples were in circulation. The PF TEK is the most popular ecological fungi grow technique in the world.
This authorized version was adapted to situation in Europe by the Stichting Perfect Fungi.

One needs the following accessories:

Pharmacy
Needles with needle protection
Sterile packed injection needles
Syringes and needles are only necessary when one wants to make its own spores syringes

Construction market or tool shop
Awl (or knitting needle)

Drugstore
Spiritus (70–80% volume alcohol)
Small and curved line cuticle scissors or small scissors with small tip
Antibacterial soap
Absorbent cotton

Gardening shop
Plant sprayer
Perlit
Vermikulit (corn size 0–3mm, grade nr. 2)

Household article (supermarket, store, health shop, and so on)
Tinfoil
Autoclave
Lighter
Glasses with smooth sidewalls
15 watts-bulb
Purple insect lamp or 370-nm-black light (Philips color 5)
Kitchen fork
Cooler
Beaker
Measuring scoop
Translucent plastic bag
Rice flour or brown rice
Soup bowl
Toilette paper

Stationery shop
Rubber bands
Marker
Sellotape
Packing film

Pet shop
Mini-aquarium
Thermometer for the aquarium

Furthermore, one should have a dust free room (for example a big linen closet or a not very much used shower), a scratch disk, a seating accommodation, a blowtorch and a fridge with freezers.

1 — Glasses

Take care of the surface of the glasses when you’re choosing. This way, you’ll have a much more comfortable harvesting process. More smaller glasses are better than a lot of big size glasses. The reason therefore is that there will happen contaminations from time to time.

1.1 One takes:

Suitable glasses which are easy to upset like a cake tin. The glasses must not deform during the process of cooking out.

1.2 Glasses which were already used a few times

Practical glasses made out of white glas are marmalade glasses up to 385 ml or preserving jars.

1.3 Plastic glasses and form

Sterilisable jars made out of heat-resistant plastic such as Polypropylen (PP) are very practical. The name is often found in a small triangular symbol. They’re cheap, light and unbreakable, but not sell practical to close.

1.4 Drinking glasses

Drinking glasses are also okay for cultivating. When you use those as a vat you’ll use the tinfoil as a cover. When using them there’s a bigger possibility of getting infected than when you’re using glasses with a screw-cap. When you fix the foil with a rubber band and take a thicker layer of Vermikulit you can minimize the risk.

2 Preparation of the soil and the process of sterilize

Fungi are more easy organisms than plants. They don’t need any chlorophyll and therefore obtain oxygen as well as azotic from outside.

2.1.1 One takes:

  1. Rice flour or brown rice (self-milled brown rice is better than pre-packed rice flour)
  2. Medium coarse Vermikulit
  3. Glasses with smooth sidewalls
  4. Awl or knitting needle
  5. Soup bowl
  6. Beaker
  7. Sellotape
  8. Kitchen fork

2.1.2 Recipe for the preparation of the soil

A maximum harvest will be achieved when you use a 1/4 glass with brown rice flour, a 1/2 glass with medium coarse Vermikulit and a 1/4 glass with water.

2.2 Procedure for 320 ml glasses

If you use glasses with a plastic cover (or foil covered glasses) start with step 3.

  1. Screw the cover on the glass.
  2. Sting four holes into the cover.
  3. Scoop 160 ml of Vermikulit into the soup bowl.
  4. Scoop 80 ml of rice flour over it.
  5. Dash over carefully 80 ml of water.
  6. Mix everything properly until theres no dry rice flour anymore.
  7. Mix the soil for each cultivation container individually. This way, you avoid the creation of clumps.
  8. Fill the classes loosely.
  9. Hit smoothly the bottom of the glass with your palm. Now, shake the glass a little so that the soil can spread equally.
  10. Clean the edge of the glass.
  11. Now put a little layer of dry Vermikulit over the soil.
  12. If there’s any extra Vermikulit in the glass you can take it carefully out. But do not press in any of it in the soil.
  13. Stick the holes on the cover with the sellotape and make sure that potential bubbles are removed. Close the cover but not too tight.

2.3 Sterilize

In the first phase of the growth, the Myzel is very vulnerable for infections which can be caused by mold and bacteria. In the process of cooking out, the microorganisms are going to get killed and their reproduction stopped.

2.3.1 One takes:

A pot with easy closable cover. At the bottom of the pot we need to have a grid which avoids that the glasses have contact with the bottom.

2.3.2 Procedure

Cook the glasses for one hour at 100 degree celsius. If you have a fast cooking pot you cook it for about 30 minutes at 120 degree celsius. The cover of the pot has to be closed very good. Otherwise, the soil will dry out. Look to it that no water comes in contact with the soil and take care that there’s enough water in the pot.

2.4 Waiting time

Preserve the glasses by room temperature. After one month the glasses need to look exactly the same and smell like short after the sterilizing. Furthermore, they need to be the same weight as before. One can loose the cover a little bit and smell the content if the Vermikulit stays at the ground.

If there’s an infection, it makes it a lot easier to determine the roots of it.

Artwork by Isbelio Godoy

3 Inoculate and growth

The seeding of the spores is called inoculate. Not grow through soil is very likely to get infections. To avoid potential infections use the following method:

3.1 One takes:

  1. Inoculum (an ampulla or syring for 10 galsses — this is for only for PF & PFE spores)
  2. Lighter
  3. Marker
  4. Needle
  5. Thermometer

3.2 Procedure

Close every window and door in your house (bathrooms are very good for this procedure). Clean everything with a mixture of antibacterial soap and Spiritus.

  1. (Glass with plastic cover): Sting with a hot needle four holes into the cover within the swivel. When you’re using drinking glasses this is not necessary. Here use a cover with four holes as a template.
  2. Shake the syringe so that the spores are spreading itself in the water and remove the protection of the needle.
  3. Heat the tip of the syringe in a soot-free flame. For a soot-free flame you use a reversed shot glass with a drop of Spiritus out of a pipette. A drop burns exactly the right amount of time.
  4. Sting a needle through a hole and let it cool.
  5. Take the syringe between your thumbs and middle as well as ring finger — the forefinger at the latchkey. Hold the needle to the glass so that the opening of the needle tip is visible.
  6. During the time the inoculum drops into the glass you have to take the finger from the latchkey and wait for about one second then take the needle back. If the syringe clogs one withdraws it so that you get rid of the congestion. Attention: Don’t breath into the opening!
  7. Repeat level four to six until every opening is inoculated. Afterwards clean the needle again with the help of a soot-free flame and put on the protection so that you can store the syringe airtight.
  8. Seal the holes in the cover with a sellotape and write the date on the glass.
  9. Inoculate the next glass only if the spores in the first glass sprout. Within a month you can harvest for your own consumption this way. More costs unnecessary much time, space and material and can reduce the quality.

3.3 Sprout and growth

Store the glasses within a temperature range of 15–30 degree celsius in a dust free place without any sunlight. A cooler suits excellently for this. If heath is required you can use a bulb to shine of the glasses. Don’t use heath from the bottom as this dries out the soil. Within a week there are small white stains emerging on the Myzel and in the second week Mycelia which is growing through the soil.

Artist unknown

4 Culture surroundings

As soon as there are primordien emerging from the soil you can remove the glass. (Be careful with not destroying the young shrooms!) Cut the parts which are not grown through with a hot knife out of the cake so that you don’t get any infections. Only full grown through soils should be used for fructification as if this is not the case the risk for infections is much higher.

4.1 Procedure

Turn over the glass and take the cake carefully out of it. If pieces are breaking of you can put it back and it will grow on again. The cake will smell quite badly and remembers to the smell of autumn leaves. Be careful if it smell a little bit sour or musty. Remove drops with toilette paper. Normally, damaged cakes do have stains on it, but this is not connected with the process of decompose.

4.2 Culture environment

In a good culture form:

  • the relative humidity stays above 85%
  • ventilation and temperature are easily controlable
  • the cakes can be illuminated
  • everything is easy to clean

4.2.1 One takes:

  1. Small aquarium or a transparent fruit bowl
  2. Transparent bag or Plexiglas table and cover
  3. Cocked out (saturated with water) Perlit
  4. Plant sprayer with high pressure

4.2.2 Construction and positioning

Please see the drawings for the construction. In a bag with only one cake (drawing nr. 4) the humility stays high, you won’t get any infection and you’ll have oxygen scarcity. For the packing of several cakes (see drawing nr. 5 and 6) are advantages and disadvantages the exact opposite. Perlit is capillary and lets water vaporize quicker than Vermikulit. Add the required Perlit while it is cooking. The vapor will take care of the fast humidification of the form. Then put in the small aquarium or the fruit bowl into the bag and then close it. Put or attache the bag into a fridge. Attache a black light over it. Be careful and make sure that you have enough distance between the bag and the black light so that the cake won’t get dried out. Neither the black light nor the cabinet are really necessary — you’d also be able to attache the bag in a tent or at a tree.

4.3 Nebulize process

Nebulize regularly every 24 hours the air with water. The fog will add frish oxygen and will dissolve azotic. Shrooms are protected against direct water drops, so you don’t need to worry about that one. Redundant water can be led away through a whole on the bottom.

4.4 Light, air and temperature

Most primordien will grow in light of 370 nanometer (decoration blacklight). Shrooms will grow to the light. However, a photo period of more than 12 hours can be harmful to the shrooms.
The intensity of the light is not that important. If you still can read with this light that’s fair enough. Daily ventilation is recommended. To much carbon dioxide will inhibit the growth of the hut of several shroom species. With Psilocybe cubensis this won’t be a big issue though. The shrooms are growing with at the fastest pace when you create an environment with about 30 degree celsius. But they won’t be that potent nor solid. From the beginning of building of some shroom pre-states a temperature of 21 degree celsius is preferably.

4.5 Shrooms and malformation

Shroom primordien emerge from white little points which will become yellow little shrooms. The first are deformed and will already stop growing within just a few days.
The tip of a “outbound” baby shroom will get black brown, later black and will deform from round to awkward. The hut will fall premature and will get particularly thick. Other malformations will stay as white nodules. Harvest them with a needle before they get soft — malformations are very potent!
The ordinary shrooms are growing from other pre-states. Harvesting a quarter of the wet soil weight is pretty much normal. In exceptional cases there were 4 crops with up to 60%.

5 Inoculum

Mature spores of breeding shrooms discolor the cake dark. During the preparation of the inoculum there’s the danger of infection. So make sure you’re working properly.

5.1 One takes:

  1. Glass with cover made out of steal
  2. Foil
  3. Pot or oven
  4. Spiritus
  5. Suds
  6. Curved cuticle scissors
  7. Small knife
  8. Lighter
  9. Cotton wool
  10. Shot glass

5.1.1 Procedure

  1. Cover the glass with tinfoil and potentially a rubber band. Then put the cover in a mixture of spiritus and suds.
  2. Put the glasses for about half an hour into the oven at 150 degree celsius or cook them out in a closed pot. In a pot the glass must not have contact with the bottom.
  3. Close the windows and the doors. Clean the walls and use utensils with suds/spiritus.
  4. Put the cooled glass on the right side next to the cake with sporulating shrooms. Furthermore, put the reversed cover on the right side (see drawing nr. 7).
  5. Place a reversed shot glass with a little bit of spiritus (70–80%) on the left side next to the cake. Place the lighter next to it as well.
  6. Loose the foil so that you can remove it with one hand from the glass.
  7. Soak a cotton ball in the spiritus. With this you clean the knife and the scissor.
  8. Light on the spiritus at on the bottom of the shot glass. Sterilize the scissor and the tip of the knife by heating (see drawing nr. 8).
  9. Sting the hut with the knife and clip off the stem with the scissor (see drawing nr. 9).
  10. Don’t hold you hands over the glass — pull away the foil — cut the hut with the scissor from the knife (see drawing nr. 10) and put it then into the glass which you now can open.
  11. Let the glass rest for 4 days by room temperature (see drawing nr. 11).
  12. Remove the hut with a hot knife and let the spore imprint dry. This one should be storable for a year.

5.2 Production of the inoculum

Cook a syringe and a glass of water with a masked whole in the cover for an hour long in a pot filled with water. Sting a opening into the cover of the glass where the spore imprint is stored. Sterilize the needle by heating and inject a little bit of cooled and sterile water over the spores. Stick the opening so that it’s close again and freeze the spore water. Defrost it afterwards in a way so that the glass stands skewed. While doing this, take care of the ice cubes. The water must not touch the cover at any time. Make sure the glass is airtight.

5.3 Filling of the syringes

Take a pot and fill it with water. Then cook a syringe in it as well as a glass filled with water which has a masked opening in the cover. This you time for about an hour. Sterilize the needle by heating and inject a layer of cooled and sterile water into the glass with the spore water. Hold the glass skewed and pull the syringe completely (drawing nr. 12). Sterilize the needle by heating again and pack the syringe airtight.

6 Harvesting and conservation

Young shrooms are better than old ones.

Nota bene: Decide for each shroom whether you sporulate it, eat it or if you want to throw it away. Don’t store the shrooms: the fresher the shrooms are the more potent they will be.

6.1 Harvesting

Effecting substances will concentrate themselves in the huts of the young shrooms. As soon as the sporulating process starts the shrooms will lose little by little of their potency. The moment of harvesting for consuming is then appropriate, when the protection fleece is opening.

6.1.1 Once takes:

  1. Dry hands
  2. Sharp knife
  3. Needle

6.1.2 Procedure

Harvest with dry hands. Push the shroom with a rotating movement away from the cake. Use a needle for the shorter ones. Cut groups of adnate shrooms first and then remove the stumps.

6.2 Conservation

Blue coloring shows oxidation of the Psilocybin. UV light, humidity, warmth and oxygen accelerate this process. Drying and anti-oxidants will slow down this particular process.

6.3 Drying

Drying will reduce stomach and gut discomfort. Dried shrooms are best for storage.

6.3.1 One takes:

  1. 15 watt bulb
  2. Thermometer
  3. T-shirt or sheets
  4. Box
  5. Pin

6.3.2 Procedure

Cut wholes in the sides of the box and place the bulb somewhere in it. Stretch the shirt or sheet as a canopy over it and fix it. Put the shrooms and the thermometer on it (drawing nr. 13). Make sure that the temperature won’t exceed 30 degree celsius. As soon as the shrooms start to get wrinkled remove the Vermikulit. Crispy shrooms then can be stored airtight and without humidity in the freezer.

Propagating Store Bought Mushrooms: How To Grow Mushrooms From Ends

Homegrown mushrooms allow you to enjoy these fungi anytime in your own home. The best variety for home growing is oyster mushrooms, though you can use any type. Store bought mushroom propagation is quite easy, but you should choose fungi from organic sources. Propagating store bought mushrooms from the ends just requires a good fruiting medium, moisture and the proper growing environment. Read on to learn how to grow mushrooms from ends.

Store Bought Mushroom Propagation

Mushrooms in cultivation are grown from spores. Spores can be difficult to locate and growing mushrooms in this manner takes a bit longer than regrowing mushroom ends. When growing mushrooms from store bought stems, the process is quicker because you don’t need to rely on spores and can use the mycelium already on the fungi. Spores become mycelium, so you are essentially cloning when regrowing mushroom ends.

Mushroom “seed” is called spore, spawn or inoculum. These need a moist humid environment and then become cottony structures called mycelium. You have probably seen mycelium in an overly moist compost bed or even just when digging up soil. The mycelium

“fruits” and produces the fungi.

Mycelium bunches up into primordia, which forms mushrooms. The primordia and mycelia are still found in harvested mushrooms at the stem where it once grew in contact with soil. This can be used to produce clones of the mushroom. Simply propagating store bought mushrooms should produce edible copies of the parent fungi.

How to Grow Mushrooms from Ends

Some of the simplest natural processes end up becoming quite complex when humans try their hand at it. Mushroom growing is just such a process. In nature, it is just a combination of luck and timing, but in cultivated scenarios, even getting the proper medium is a chore.

For our purposes, we will use straw as our bedding. Soak the straw for a couple of days and then pull it out of the container. You can use any moistened cellulose material for the bedding, such as hamster bedding or even shredded cardboard.

Now you need a couple of nice, fat, healthy oyster mushrooms. Separate the ends from the tops. The ends are where the fuzzy, white mycelium is located. Cut the ends into small pieces. The best size for growing mushrooms from store bought stems is ¼ inch.

You can use a cardboard box, paper bags or even a plastic bin to layer your medium. Place some of the straw or other moist material at the bottom and add mushroom end pieces. Do another layer until the container is full.

The idea is to keep all the medium and mycelium damp and in the dark where temperatures are 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18-23 C.). To this end, add a layer of plastic with holes poked in it over the box. If you used a plastic container, top with a lid and poke holes in that for air flow.

Mist the medium if it looks like it is getting dry. After about 2 to 4 weeks, the mycelium should be ready to fruit. Tent plastic over the medium to preserve moisture but allow the fungi to form. In about 19 days, you should be harvesting your very own mushrooms.

This post is a continuation of our guide to growing oyster mushrooms here. If you haven’t read it yet, please check it out first, as we go through a lot of vital information, demonstrating how to grow oyster mushrooms using old coffee as a substrate.

You might wonder after reading our guide whether there’s a low cost alternative, one that doesn’t require you to buy spawn on the internet. The answer is: Yes there is. The pay-off may not be guaranteed, but it’s certainly worth a shot.

The next time you go out and buy mushrooms in the supermarket, find a mushroom that seems to have some white mold covering its stem. This white fungus may be some of the mycelium of that particular mushroom. This mycelium can be grown quite easily. I am growing mushrooms myself in coffee, using white button mushrooms I bought in the supermarket.

If you look at the above image (click it for a full size version), you notice white threads expanding from the mushroom stem that I cut in four parts and placed on top of the coffee. These mushroom threads, are mycelium, the foundation of a mushroom growing operation. After enough time, this mycelium should colonize the entire coffee pot.

Temperature

The mycelium in this picture is currently growing at room temperature (22C), which is near the ideal temperature for white button mushroom mycelium to grow. When it’s time for the mycelium to sprout actual mushrooms, the temperature should ideally be a bit lower, around 14-18 degree Celsius. That temperature is easily reached in my house, by moving the bucket to a room that’s not heated.

Downsides to the cheap method

We would have recommended this method right away, if it didn’t have certain disadvantages. The less living mushroom tissue you start out with, the easier it is to end up with a contamination. When your substrate is contaminated, you might see green mold growing, or you might not notice anything odd, as there are different kinds of contamination possible.

If it doesn’t work

If you can’t get it to work, that might take you a few weeks to find out. Hopefully you won’t let this discourage you from enjoying the pleasure and harvest of mushroom cultivation in your own home. Instead, order some oyster mushroom spawn on the internet and you will probably have a higher success rate than you would using the cheap cloning method. As your spawn is growing, you can always try out the cheap method again.

Sterilization of old coffee

If you gather old coffee for quite some time, eventually mold might grow on it. Mold, is a living organism like any other and thus it’s not too fond of intense radiation. Your microwave can easily function like a sterilization chamber. First, scoop out the coffee that has mold residue, as the mold can produce substances that inhibit the growth of other fungi. Then, take a microwave safe container and place your coffee in the container. Place the container in the microwave and irradiate the coffee. Two minutes should be enough. You will get rid of most mold that plagued your coffee.

Cloning oyster mushrooms

We’ve shown you how white button mushrooms look when cloned from the supermarket, so how about oyster mushrooms? To start with, take a look at this up-close image of the stem of an oyster mushroom:

See the very fine white threads at the bottom of the mushroom there? Those are mycelium! You’ll need good eyes or strong glasses to notice it on your mushrooms and not all oyster mushrooms sold in the supermarket will have this mycelium unfortunately. We cut this mushroom stem up into a few pieces and below you can witness the result:

Those are not creepy worms you see there digging in the dirt, those are pieces of the oyster mushroom’s stem that are rapidly expanding and colonizing their new food source. As you can see, not all parts of the stem that I cut off are equally successful. In theory, you should only need one to succeed however.

How to improve the mycelium colonization process

What we want is for the mycelium we see to rapidly take over all of our coffee, the faster the better. What can we do to accomplish this? One great way is to allow carbon dioxide to build up in the container. It’s true that mushrooms consume oxygen, just like animals, but they don’t need a whole lot of it.

Instead, these mushrooms benefit from carbon dioxide, which encourages the mycelium to expand. If we place them in a box that we don’t open, carbon dioxide will slowly build up, as the mushrooms consume their food source and produce carbon dioxide.

Of course we’re curious, so what we tend to do is open the box. The solution to this is to get transparent jars! Here are some great transparent glass jars that you can look through to check up on the mycelium, without allowing your carbon dioxide to escape. When the mycelium has thoroughly colonized your coffee, you might wish to transfer it to another bigger container.

Posted on March 16, 2017 by mark

How to Develop Your Own Mushroom Garden: Outside & Inside Options

A mushroom garden is the perfect addition to any land and it is a great way to have a lot of your own fresh mushrooms at home

A mushroom garden can be created in a number of ways. Today I am sharing some tips for doing your own mushroom gardening, both inside and outside.

If you are already a vegetable, fruit, or herb gardener, then a mushroom garden might be an ideal addition to the land you already have been working. If you have always wanted to garden at home but have a lot of shady areas that stop plants from getting enough light, then mushrooms might be your best option.

What to use in an outdoor mushroom garden

In the northeast, shiitakes, oysters, and wine cap mushrooms grow well. I recommend using logs or totems to grow shiitakes and oysters, and wine caps are great to grow among wood chips.

If you already have a vegetable garden, then you can fill in the walkable pathways with wood chips that you inoculate with wine cap mycelium. If you already have the wood chips in place, then you can use sawdust spawn for the inoculation.

While growing mushrooms outside it’s important to remember that mushrooms like moisture. Trying to grow mushrooms in areas of a lot of sun will lead to failed attempts. However, you may be able to grow mushrooms within your garden if the mushrooms would be shaded by the growing plants. Otherwise, as mentioned above, using the walkable paths is a good way to start.

Building a mushroom garden with inoculated logs

You’re in luck if your yard has a lot of shade because you can still grow a mushroom garden with the help of log cultivation practices. Or, you may have shaded garden areas that utilize logs to edge your garden beds. These logs could also be used for growing mushrooms.

To begin, you will need your logs and sawdust or plug spawn. You can read all about the process of inoculating logs in this article from our website.

As the article mentions, it is important to use fresh relatively-fresh logs for inoculation. Old logs may already have its own fungus growing within it, making it harder for the cultivation of our mycelium.

Once the mushroom logs are inoculated, they will be stored in a shaded area, preferably one that will resemble a natural setting. It is ideal when it is close to a watering source so they can be kept properly moist.

Creating a mushroom garden inside: 2 options for you

You can work on your inside mushroom gardening at any time, even when you’re looking outside and seeing snow covering the ground.

The two methods we recommend here are using our growing kits or using plastic bags full of straw. We discuss both methods below.

Our mushroom growing kits allow you to produce pounds of mushrooms through multiple flushes, all from the comfort of your own home or office.

The process is simple. You start by ordering your mushroom growing kit from us. We have a variety of delicious gourmet mushrooms to try, including:

  • Pink oyster mushroom
  • Blue oyster mushroom
  • Yellow oyster mushroom
  • Shiitake mushroom
  • Chestnut mushroom
  • Lion’s mane mushroom

Once your kit arrives, place it in the area you want your indoor mushroom garden. Cut the bag open with an “X” so the mushrooms have an area to grow from. Mist the grow kit a couple times daily so it does not dry out. Keep doing this until the mushrooms begin to pin. You will be able to harvest once they get big enough.

Be sure to try your skill at mushroom gardening both indoors and out. I’m sure you’ll love it either way.

Creating a mushroom garden with oyster mushrooms in straw

The oyster mushroom is an easy mushroom to grow, and it may go great in your mushroom garden, especially if you have some straw available.

Here’s a look at the materials you will need to add a mushroom garden to your property with the help of straw:

  • Clean straw
  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Water
  • Plastic bag (a plastic trash bag will do)
  • Plastic tubing
  • Oyster mushroom mycelium

You will be creating a fermentation with the straw. This method is sometimes referred to as the “stinky straw” method. It will get a little smelly at first, but rest assured, the smell will be temporary and it will dissipate within 30 minutes of completing this mushroom garden.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Shred the straw. The ideal size range to use is 1” – 4” pieces. You can go about shredding the straw yourself with a machete, or by running it over with a lawn mower. Using a weed whacker with the straw in a 55-gallon barrel is another possibility as well.
  2. Once the straw is ready, you will pack it in the 5-gallon bucket.
  3. Fill the 5-gallon bucket with water so all of the straw is covered. You may need to place a heavy object on the straw to keep it submerged. A cinder block is a good option for doing this.
  4. Keep the straw submerged for 3-6 days.
  5. Remove the straw from the 5-gallon bucket, drain the water and place on a table.
  6. Take the straw and pack it into the plastic tubing. Layer oyster sawdust spawn every 3 to 4 inches. Pack as tightly as possible to eliminate air gaps.
  7. Poke holes into the tubing. If you are using a 3-foot piece of tubing, then you should poke 18 holes along the tube. Try to space the holes out evenly. If you have a longer or shorter piece of tubing, use six holes for every foot of tubing.
    Place the tubing into your plastic bag.
  8. Allow the mycelium to colonize the straw for 3-5 weeks. The bag can be kept in a dark place between 50-80 degrees F.
  9. Now it will be time to fruit the mushrooms. To do this, bring the mushrooms into the ideal environment of 65 degrees F. It should be out of direct sunlight but in a lighted area like a living room, with humidity around 85%. To achieve this, simply mist the exterior of the bag 2-3 times daily. Cut holes in the bag for the mushrooms to fruit from.
  10. The mushrooms will fruit out the holes of the bag within 10 days and as early as seven. Harvest once they reach maturity.
  11. Allow the bag to rest where it is for two weeks and begin misting again. The bag will fruit mushrooms 2-4 times before it is time to be composted.

What kind of mushroom garden have you grown? Share your story with us in the comments, and a pic if you’d like!

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