PF SUBSTRATE FORMULA (for half pint jar)
INOCULATION OF THE PF SUBSTRATE JARS
INCUBATION OF INOCULATED JARS
REMOVING THE FUNGUS CAKE FROM THE JAR
THE DUAL CHAMBERED TERRARIUM
HEATLESS DESICCATION (drying) OF MUSHROOMS
SPORE SYRINGE MAKING
Jars and glasses to be used with this technique are half pint capacity (8 ounces). They must have tapered sides and no shoulders, otherwise the fungus cakes won't easily come out of the jars.
Appropriate jars; (source - super markets and hardware stores)
NOTE: Even though the regular mouth BALL half pint and the regular mouth KERR half pint look similar, the KERR is not tapered.
To make your own brown rice powder, place some regular brown rice in a small canister type coffee bean grinder and grind it to fine flakes. Freshly ground brown rice is recommended over prepackaged type. The freshness sometimes makes a big difference.
Not all vermiculite is the same. The coarseness varies quite considerably among different brands. The coarser type will hold less water than the finer type which will alter the water holding capacity. If your formulation (water content) results in a really wet or sloppy PF substrate, just use less water. Keep notes on your formulas so that you can replicate the PF substrate formula that works the best.
Prepare the canning lid by placing it with the rubber sealing edge upwards on a supporting surface and with a sharpened 3 penny nail (held with pliers), punch 4 holes inside the periphery of the rubber sealing edge.
SUBSTRATE JAR PREPARATION
Step 1. Place 1/2 cup of vermiculite into a mixing bowl. Place the brown rice powder on top of the vermiculite. Slowly add the water directly onto the brown rice powder, wetting it first. Thoroughly mix the ingredients. The mixture should feel damp and cohesive. More water (or less) can be used if experimenting to improve the fruiting. Mix Each jars substrate individually for loading to insure accurate formula rendering.
Step 2. Load the 1/2 pint jar and level the top. With one hand, cover the mouth of the jar and grasp the top. Lightly slam the bottom of the jar on your other palm a couple of times to lower the level of the mixture. Leave a 1/2 to 3/4 inch space at the top. With a tissue or your fingertip, wipe the insides of the jar down to the substrate. Fill the top of the jar with plain dry vermiculite and level it off at the top. This upper layer will protect the wet substrate from air borne contaminants. It acts as a contaminant barrier. This is a Psylocybe Fanaticus original discovery. What this dry vermiculite layer does is protect the wet substrate from airborne contaminants and also absorbs and regulates moisture transpiration and condensation.
Step 3. Place the lid on the jar with the rubberized edge up (jagged edges of the needle holes down). Screw the lid band on. Place pieces of "professional" grade masking tape (holds on during steaming) over the needle holes. This is to protect the needle holes from contaminant entry.
There are two choices with the lids during incubation - tight or loose. With a very high moisture content (good for fruiting), a tight lid can cause water to collect in the bottom of the jar. This is to be avoided. If it happens, the lid should be kept on loose during incubation. If the substrate is on the dry side, a tight lid will preserve the moisture content. It is all a matter of the balance between the water needs of the mycelium, the size of the jar, the available air space in the jar and the type of vermiculite used. Only by simple experimenting and comparison can the right balance be found for a given set of conditions. Take notes and go with what fruits the best.
Steam sterilizing PF substrate jars with regular cookware is possible because there is no grain to cook up and the substrate is airy. Other regular jars (other than canning type) or small drinking glasses (with tin foil covering) can be substituted for these canning jars. To insure similar results, make sure the jars or glasses are tapered sided with no shoulder of any kind, and that they have a 1/2 pint (8 ounce) capacity. It is important to note, that jars somewhat larger than 1/2 pint are unreliable for the PF TEK and fail easily. The low form KERR 1/2 pint canning jar is the most versatile (fits into tight spaces et).
A 3 piece vegetable steamer (pot, basket insert & lid) is perfect for this technique. Also, the stainless steel vegetable steamers that fold out and stand on the bottom of the pot are good. Anything is good as long as it keeps the jar bottoms off the pot bottom where the high temperature will crack the glass.
Step 4. Heat the pot of water to a boil. Put the jars into the pot with the lid bands loose so that the steam can penetrate the jars quickly. Turn the heat down and GENTLY steam the jars at the lowest possible boil for an hour in a TIGHTLY covered pot (gas stoves are the easiest to control). A good tight fitting pot lid is essential for successful steaming. Be careful to not overheat the jars, this dries the substrate. Drying is evidenced by o.k.spore germination and halted growth. The fungus will spread but stop at a certain point depending on how dry the PF substrate has become. Generally, any halted growth (with no contamination) is a sign of dried substrate. This is an important concept that will enable you to diagnose and easily correct any problems you might experience with drying. The remedy is to increase the water content of the PF substrate formula you are using.
The jars can sit in water but just make sure boiling water can't slosh into the jars. After the jars have cooled, tighten the lids and store them in a cool draft free place until ready to inoculate them. Make sure that the jars are COOL to the touch before proceeding. If they are still warm, the spores can easily be killed.
Make sure the lid is tight. Shake the syringe well and remove the tape from the syringe needle guard. This shaking of the syringe is important as to redistribute the spores in the water. Take off the tape covering the needle holes. Remove the needle guard and insert the needle through the lid hole. Tilt the syringe body back towards the center of the lid with the needle tip touching the glass. This distributes the spore water down the side of the jar, giving a good inoculation down the side of the substrate cake. Inoculate a few drops down each needle hole. As you press on the syringe plunger, observe the needle tip against the inside of the glass. As soon as you see water appearing around the needle tip, release your finger pressure. In between each hole inoculation, shake the syringe a little to keep the spores distributed. Use 1 cc per jar. This will allow the syringe to inoculate 10 jars. You can actually use more spore solution per jar (speeds colonization) but then you won't get as many jars per syringe. If the syringe needle plugs up as you insert it into the PF substrate, just draw the needle back a little and it will unplug.
If you touch the needle, flame the needle with a cigarette lighter to resterilize it and let it cool a minute. An alcohol flame is a better flame because it does not leave behind any soot on the needle. If you have spore solution left, just replace the needle guard and store the syringe for later use. Be sure and resterilize the needle immediately before re-use. Store the syringe in a dark, cool place.
You can inoculate the jar without using a lid with holes punched. Before you do this technique, inoculate with the punched lid first. That will show you how it works without any problems (almost fail proof).
The only precaution to observe is to disturb the dry top vermiculite layer as little as possible, especially when removing the needle after the inoculation. The underlying PF substrate must not be exposed to the air. Move any disturbed vermiculite back into place with your fingertip. If using a drinking glass or alternate container, cover the mouth with tin foil. Replace the tin foil cover after inoculation.
If any contaminant invaders appear, their color will be other than white. They are red, blue-green, black, or yellow (most any color). If they appear, the culture is doomed. Bacteria contamination is smellable through the dry vermiculite layer as a sour - foul odor within 2 days of inoculation and no spore germination. It is safe to remove the cap in order to detect odors. If it is contaminated, sterilize the contents of the jar with rubbing alcohol. Bacteria can be dangerous. The aroma should be hardly noticeable, a vague pleasant grainy smell at most. Just make sure that the vermiculite layer remains intact.
After the substrate turns white with the mycelium (2 or 3 weeks after inoculation), The jars are left to sit in indirect light. The mycelium will continue to infiltrate the substrate until it gets enough food to trigger the fruiting cycle. In less than a week to a few weeks after surface colonization of the cake, tiny white "pin" like structures begin to appear. This is called pinning. This is the beginning of the fruiting cycle. Soon after that, within the week, small round fungus growths appear that soon begin to turn yellow.
Lastly, "primordia" start to grow. These are tiny worm like structures with tiny dark reddish heads. These are the first mushrooms.
Remove the lid. With your finger tips or a clean fork, scrape away the majority of the dry top vermiculite layer. There will probably be seen some wispy mycelium here and there in the top layer. Don't worry about this. This is a good sign showing aggressive growth. Place an old jar lid over the jar mouth and turn the jar upside down. Lightly slam the jar down on a table cushioned with a magazine. The fungus cake will slide out onto the old jar cap (BIRTHDAY). The jar cap functions as a base for the cake. When handling the fungus cake, be careful as not to squeeze and bruise it. Bruising results in a bluish mark. This fungus is resilient and can tolerate a certain amount of handling, but handle it as least as possible. The aroma is distinctly mushroomy, very pleasant.
As soon as the fungus cake comes out of the jar, daub the cake with a piece of loose tissue paper to soak up any water droplets that may have deposited on the cake as it comes out of the jar.
Some of the first mushrooms to form are "abhorts" (convoluted caps, gnarly stems and stunted growth), and ironically they are primo in magic alkaloids. They are even more powerful in magic than the stately beauties that will soon dominate the cake. The tiny "baby mushroom" abhorts are likewise good. After witnessing the growth of the fungus, you will be able to instantly recognize and harvest these abhorts. As long as they are healthy and pure, they are primo. Also, another form of mutants will manifest. These are just big blobs of fungus with little or no cap, also good for harvesting. And along with these mutants, appear the perfect specimens, the sporocarps.
All in all the process takes from 4 - 6 weeks from spore inoculation to fruiting.
THE AIRTIGHT AQUARIUM LID (TOP)
(For a standard 10 gallon aquarium)
The wooden lid frames' inner rectangular cutout must be LARGER than the top of the aquarium. Clear polythelene plastic film is tacked to the underside (or upper side) of the frame so that the frame holds it tightly onto the aquarium top. The frame essentially hangs by the plastic film. A simpler alternative is to cover the aquarium top with saran wrap or something similar.
THE SPRAY SHIELD/CHAMBER PARTITION (shaded area)
(for a standard 10 gallon aquarium)
Use 1/8" thick clear acrylic (plexiglass) window insulation available at most hardware stores. Have it cut around 15" x 18" (dimensions may vary - check the aquarium first). A tight fit is good.
The mushrooms get water from 2 sources; the substrate they grow on and the air that surrounds them. The surrounding air must be highly humidified. The fungus needs to bathe in a shroud of floating water molecules. 100% humidity is where there is the maximum number of water molecules floating amongst the air atoms. The dual chambered terrarium easily achieves these conditions.
It all starts with the spray from the hand sprayer. The first rule is to never directly spray the fungus. This initial spray is comprised of water droplets that are giant ponds of water in relation to the fine mycelial networks of the fungal threads. In culture, the droplet of water will drown the micro world of the fungal structures and thereby inhibit or contaminate growth. But the airborne molecularized water floats into the fine structures and gives the fungus humidity as needed. Molecularized water is another way of describing water that has evaborated into the air.
The spray that comes out of the spray bottle must be molecularized for the fungus. The spray shield and the primary chamber accomplish this. The primary chamber receives the initial spraying. As the spray strikes the shield, it is broken down into a finer mist which flows around the sides of the spray shield into the secondary chamber where the fungus is bathed in the fine humidity safely away from water droplets. In a matter of time, this humidity will condense out onto surfaces inside the terrarium and drip down. The spray shield is slanted and therefore acts as a drip shield and roof, so the more condensation the better.
First, before placing the cakes into the terrarium, spray all the inside surfaces of the terrarium, including the spray shield and lid. Insert the fungus cakes and put the spray shield and lid in place. Then, slightly lift up the lid and insert the nozzle of the water spray bottle in between the lid and the top of the aquarium and vigorously spray downwards into the middle of the shield. After about 5 seconds of spraying, immediately withdraw the sprayer nozzle and let down the lid to seal the swirling mist inside the terrarium. You can come back after a few minutes and give it another spraying if desired and a third if you are off to work and won't be back until the evening. To maintain a high humidity try to spray at least 2 times a day, and the more the better. You can compensate for a lack of spraying during the day by spraying several times in the evening. Make sure that all the inside surfaces of the terrarium are foggy or dripping with water. This in itself helps generate humidity.
Expose the terrarium to normal room light (indirect sunlight). A small low wattage flourescent plant light will make the phototropic mushrooms grow upwards. Leave it on all the time if you want.
Dry looking cakes (they should be fuzzy) and withering, discoloring mushrooms and primordia mean low humidity. For the best growth, the humidity has to be very high.
The immature specimens are the best in quality, digestibility and chemical constituency. They are characterized as being very light in color with white stems and light colored caps. The cap will spread out after the veil breaks. Just after the veil breaks is a good time to harvest. The gills on the underside of the cap will be light in color. The mushrooms will be conical shaped and sporulation hasn't really begun yet. These are the mushrooms that are the best for harvesting.
MATERIALS NEEDED - Desiccant - Wire screen - Plastic tub or container - Plastic bag with tie off.
Note: These products might have toxicity warnings - (don't breathe dust or get on skin ect.). Follow those rules, but know that desiccant in an airtight box and under a screen will do nothing to the fungi except dry them. It is completely safe for this use.
What desiccant does, is absorb moisture out of the air. As the fungi transpires moisture, the moisture is immediately absorbed back into the desiccant, drying the fungi. Desiccant can be reused and lasts indefinitely. After use, the desiccant is heated, dried and stored for future use. Store it in an air tight container so that it stays dry and ready for use. Heat the desiccant in an oven as instructed by the manufacturer.
In drying a medium sized mushroom such as Psilocybe Cubensis, use a 1 inch layer of desiccant on the bottom of the container, under the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms on a wire screen and lay them on the desiccant that is in the container. Put the container with the shrooms and desiccant into a plastic bag. A garbage bag type wire tie is sufficient to close the bag. If you can find a clear plastic bag, use that so you can observe the drying process. After 24 hours, you should notice a little shriveling of the shrooms. About 4 or 5 days later, the shrooms will be dried rock hard.
Pre drying the mushrooms in the air on a wire screen works very well if your room humidity is not high. After a couple of days, the shriveling fungus can be quickly and completely dried in the desiccant box.
Mushrooms dried in this way lose hardly any chemical constituents and their truly desiccated state preserves them in their prime for months. When the stems snap when bent, the shrooms are completely desiccated and ready for storage. Store them by sealing them in plastic bags or keep them in canning jars with the rubber edged canning lid on tight.
It has been reported that Psilocybe Cubensis is a "weak" mushroom. PF and others have seen this to be not so. It all depends on how it is grown, on what medium and how it is harvested and preserved. All in all, this mushroom is the best one because it is the easiest to grow. The temperature range is wide and forgiving (60 degrees fahrenheit to sweltering - natural habitat).
SPORE PRINTING AND SPORE SYRINGE PREPARATION
The mature specimens are good for spore production, but are not as good for consumption. They are characterised as becoming darker, with dark bluish colors appearing on the caps and stems. The cap upturns and reveals gills darkening a deep brown color. The mushroom will look like an umbrella that has turned up edges. On the stem can be seen the purple deposits of the dropping spores. Mature adult mushrooms release spores by the millions. In the area around the mushrooms can be seen a deepening color of purple. As the spores fall and collect they will color deep purple. This is the signal that the mushroom has matured and is now in its sporulation cycle. This is the time to take their spores.
SPORE PRINTING EQUIPMENT
KERR 1/2 PINT WIDE MOUTH (LOW FORM) CANNING
JAR. (ANY SUITABLE JAR IS OK)
FINGER NAIL CUTICLE SCISSOR - (cosmetics - drug stores)
Note: What follows is a sterile technique. The first rule that must be allways followed is to wash your hands prior to sterile work. Hands are a prime source for bacteria and microspore contaminants. Sterilize all the work surfaces with rubbing alcohol. Minimize drafts. Try for a still air environment. Don't breathe on your work. You can run a small home appliance style HEPA air cleaner (99.97% rated efficiency - available at drug and deparment stores) for a few hours in a closed room to clean the air before you do the work.
Psilocybe Cubensis spores begin to degrade a few months after they are taken. After approximately 1 1/2 years, spore germination will be greatly reduced or won't occur at all. Germination is massive and quick when the spores are fresh.
MAKING A SPORE SYRINGE
Use a plastic (disposable) syringe with an 18 gauge 1 1/2 inch needle. You can blunt the needle to make it safe by simply sniping the tip of the needle with a wire cutter. You can resterilze the syringe and needle (wraped in tin foil) by boiling it for an hour.
Prepare a small bottle of sterilized water. Place the bottle and cap into the pot with a tight lid and boil for one hour. Then with a forceps or tong, get the cap loosely back on the bottle (while under the surface) and remove it. After cooling, tighten the bottle cap.
When ready, pour a little of this sterile water into the spore print jar and with a sterile knife blade, scrape the spores into the water. The water will become thick with purple specks. Swirl the water and load the syringes. Do the operation quickly and smoothly. Expose the jar opening as little as possible. Don't breathe on it. This syringe is good for several months. The spores fare well in their watery environment.
You can improve the sterile process by using the long needle technique. With a needle hole in the lid, water and spore solution can be loaded and unloaded from the jar with little air contact. Spores can be scraped into solution through the hole in the lid with a sterilized long blunted needle or implement, improving isolation and sterility. Extra long syringe needles (heavy gauge 3 1/2 inch - science supply) have their use here. The needles have to be blunted to work correctly at scraping spores off the bottom of a jar. Blunt them with a large wire cutter and finish the tip with a file. These type of needles can be bought, but finding them is the task. If questioned by the seller on what the use will be, just tell them the truth. Mycology is OK . Try your local veterinarian or science catalog retailer. The needle techniques are very versatile and can be employed in many ways good for spore solution preparation without the usual lab setups.