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How to Grow Psilocybe Cubensis

by The Seeker


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What do we need to grow magic mushrooms? Here is a list of all the necessary items to grow your own:

1) Fertile Psilocybe cubensis spores.
2) About twenty sterile plastic petri plates.
3) Malt-Agar medium.
4) Alcohol lamp containing methyl or grain alcohol.(Alcohol wipes do fine as well.)
5) Inoculating loop. (Wire bent in a loop with a handle is good.)
6) Agar knife.
7) Test tubes. Filled one-third with grain ( birdseed ) and plugged with cotton.
8) Two lbs. of compost. It should be cow manure, preferably leached, although you can also use natural wood-based composts such as Douglas Fir mulch or pine mulch.
9) Casing soil. It should be a bag of peat moss mixed with a cup of lime.
10) A big can of Lysol or other disenfectant.
11) A glass container at least 10 ounces or 300 ml which can be plugged with cotton, capped with aluminum foil and pressure-cooked.
12) Pressure cooker. The smallest size, 10 1/2 liquid quarts, can be used, and it should have a pressure gauge.

Almost all of these items can be ordered by these companies:

Fungi Perfecti
P.O. Box 7634
Olympia, WA 98507
800-780-9126
360-426-9292

Mushroom People
Order phones: (800) 692-6329, (800) 386-4496
Order Phone / Fax: (931) 964-2200
Questions, 3-5 CST only: (931) 964-2200

Homestead Book Company
P.O. Box 31608
Seattle, WA 98103
206-782-4532

MATERIAL PREPARATION AND WORK SPACE

To begin, start with a clean table top, plastic or formica, in an area free from drafts. Wipe the table with Lysol, and when doing transfer work, cover your nose and mouth with either a hankerchief or a surgical mask so you don't breathe germs onto the sterile media.

To insure sterile conditions, you may wish to use a transfer chanber. A transfer chanber can either be purchased or constructed out of simple materials, plywood, glass or plastic for the top, and a cloth entryway. If cardboard is used, line the inside with aluminum foil to protect the chamber from burning when you use the alcohol lamp. The box need not be air tight, the idea is to prevent contamination from drafts and breathing on the media. The inside of the box should be wiped down with Lysol and your hands shown be cleaned with Lysol before putting them into the box. Gloves may be used if your hands are sensitive to strong chemicals.

STERILIZING MALT MEDIUM AND POURING

Next, we prepare the medium, or food substances, on which the mycelium will grow. Place the malt-agar medium into your flask or bottle and add eight ounces, or 250 ml of water. Stir or shake slightly. Then plug the flask or bottle with cotton and cap it with a piece of aluminum foil.

Now put the flask into the pressure cooker on the rack or trivet provided with the cooker. Turn on the heat and bring the cooker up to fifteen pounds. Keep it there for twenty to twenty-five minutes. Monitor the process in order to keep the cooker at the proper pressure and to make sure you don't over-heat. After twenty minutes, turn the heat off and let it cool down to zero pressure naturally. Do not release the pressure.

Wipe down your transfer area, either the table or chamber, and place the petri plates inside your chamber or on your table. Using a mitten, take your flask out of the cooker and place it next to the petri plates. Throw away the aluminum foil. You are now ready to pour the medium into the plates.

Remove the cotton and grasp the flask with your mittened right hand. With your left hand, take a petri plate and hold it slightly open. Pour the medium into the plate, just covering the bottom surface and then close the plate. Repeat the process for nine more plates and set aside to cool. Before you go onto the next step, you may want to let the plates sit for a few days to check for contamination. If, after two days, you notice anything other than tannish-brown medium in the plate, discard that plate. Now you are ready to streak the plates with spores.

SPORE STREAKING

To keep spores fertile they should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. The spores should remain viable for at least six month, perhaps indefinitely.

Wipe your table or transfer chamber with Lysol; also wipe your hands. You should have the petri dishes with cooled medium inside the area. Light the alcohol lamp, and have your inoculating tool bent into a loop and ready to use. Remove the piece of paper containing spores and place it face up on the table.

Open one of the petri plates, holding the top right over the medium to prevent contamination. Flame the inoculating loop, then cool it by placing it in one part of the medium on the plate. Scrape some spores off the paper with your loop and smear them in an 'S' configuration onto the medium in your petri plate. Immediately close the plate and proceed to the next one. I recommend that you streak two to four plates. You want to save the rest for two reasons:

1) The germination might not take.

2) The plates might be contaminated.

If this happens, repeat the entire process.

INCUBATION AND IDENTIFICATION OF CULTURES

Set aside your inoculated plates in a warm area, approximately 70 to 75 degrees F. A heating pad or light is useful for maintaining this temperature.

In ten days to two weeks, you should notice a snow-white, fluffy, cottony growth on your plates. This is the psilocybe mycelia. In a few more days, it should develop long threads, ropey fibres reaching out to the outside of the plate. At the end of two to three weeks, the entire plate should be covered with this pure-white mass.

Chances are you will have some contamination also. Do not be discouraged; it's a common hazard and the reason you work with more than one petri dish. Contamination takes many forms. The two most common are penicillium and neurospora, or bread mold. Pencillium will appear as a dark green spot, the kind you see on stale bread, and it can be dealt with in two ways:

1) If the white mycelia overgrows it, you can flame your knife and cut out the contaminated area.

2) Or, if the penicillium overruns your plate, it is wise to discard the entire petri dish.

Neurospora is a grey-white hairy mass, darker than the psilocybe mycelia, of a type you also see on bread. This is a very strong fungus, if discovered discard the entire dish.

Other contaminants are dealt with in the same way, and if you wish to identify them we suggest you check the photographs in 'Growing Wild Mushrooms' by Bob Harris.

TRANSFER AND ISOLATION OF PURE CULTURE

Again wipe down your transfer area, clean your hands, and light your alcohol lanp. On the table you should have your petri plates grown out with mycelia and the other six plates which contain only media. Flame the knife, cool it in the unused media, and cut out a small section of mycelia. Stab the small piece of mycelia and place it in the middle of a plate containing only growing media and cover the dish quickly.

Transfer these sections into three more dishes, and incubate again as indicated in the previous section. Allow a few weeks to grow out and you are ready to transfer to the spawn. If you have any difficulty or contamination, remember you have twelve dishes left that you haven't streaked yet, so if you have problems repeat the streaking process and begin again.

If you have gotten this far, you isolated a pure culture, one that will be easy to maintain and making it possible to not having to return to spores for several generations. You are now ready to start the spawn.

PREPARATION OF SPAWN

Our spawn medium can be rye or other grains, but I use a combination of milo and millet, commonly used in bird seed.

Make sure your test tube is filled with one third grain. Then add half again an amount of water. Put the cotton back in the test tube, cover it with aluminum foil and place it on a trivet in your pressure cooker. Follow the cooking procedure as indicated in the section sterilizing malt medium.

Take the test tube out of the cooker, shake up the grain inside and put it aside to cool. Transfer the mycelium from the petri plate to the grain in the same manner as indicated in the previous section. Set aside the test tubes at 70 to 75 degrees F. to incubate. After three to four days, shake up the grain in the tube and allow another seven or eight days for the mycelium to spread through the grain. Once the grain is completely run through with fluffy, white mycelium, you are ready to use it to innoculate the compost. If you notice anything that looks like contamination, begin again by inoculating another test tube.

INOCULATION AND INCUBATION OF COMPOST

Break up the grain in the test tube eith by shaking it or using chopsticks, and spread the mixture into the compost. You can inoculate and incubate the compost in a flower pot or plastic container.

An excellent method is to put the compost in a tray and place it in a fish tank with a loose lid. For moisture and humidity control, put wet cat litter in the bottom of the tank. The compost should be slightly wet, so that you can squeeze it in your hands and it will leave a faint mark on your hands. If you squeeze out water it is too wet and if you can't feel or see a mark on your hands it is too dry. In a week to ten days, the compost should be completely run through, full white, with mycelia. Maintain a coolish temperature, perhaps between 65 and 75 degrees F. for this process. We keep it this cool because the mycelia generates a lot of heat when it grows out and heat will kill it. You know it's too warm when you notice a yellowing of the mycelia and a yellow liquid around and through the growing media. That means it's dying and you might have to begin again.

Some misting might be required to maintain moisture. Once the mycelia is run through, spread a one-half to one inch layer of casing soil on top of the compost. This will induce fruiting.

FRUITING AND PICKING

Place the compost/casing mixture in a closet free from drafts but allowing some circulation. Put them under a normal flourescent light and leave on a typical day/night schedule. The lights can be left on continually although I don't recommend it, nor do I recommend incandescent lights.

Maintain a 65 to 75 degree F. temperature and keep the casing soil slightly moist as noted earlier with the compost. In a week to ten days, tiny pinheads will appear on the casing soil and will soon begin to sprout mushrooms. At this point. the mushrooms will grow rapidly, just as it is not unusual to see a fully-sprouted mushroom on your lawn almost overnight.

Wait until the caps break the veil and then pick, scooping them out from the bottom with a chopstick. You can wait until the cap flattens out and the mushroom gets bigger, but at this point the mushrooms will begin throwing spores on the growing surface and this may inhibit later flushes. Mushrooms should sprout for about four or five days in abundance, then over the next week or ten days you will notice two to four more flushes. The mushrooms in these later flushes will be smaller and less abundant. At this point your growing medium is exhausted.

MAINTAINING THE CULTURE

You now have a basket of mushrooms and a pure culture in your petri dishes with which to grow again. Or, if you have lost the culture, you can clone the mushrooms you have by taking flesh from it. This process is described in 'Growing Wild Mushrooms' by Bob Harris.

I hope you all have an electric ride and the walls melt like butter in a microwave with your home-grown mushrooms.

Now I would like to thank the people who made this file possible: HomeStead's Deluxe Shroom Kit, Alex, and of course Mother Nature!

 
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