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Growing mushrooms - basic info Options
#1 Posted : 4/1/2011 7:46:12 AM

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Not sure if this is really helpful but anyways, here goes. If I am wrong about anything - since I wrote most of this from memory, please correct me. I will add some pictures and formatting in due time.

For anyone interested in growing mushrooms, I naturally recommend reading some books on the matter. The Paul Stamets *Mushroom Cultivator* is a great start and great handbook for all kinds of challenges that could arise.
In the mean time I will give some general hand-waving information on growing them, so you can get an overview of what is involved. I won't go into specific teks; there are plenty of those around. But I will give some details on why which steps are required or advisable.

Life cycle of mushrooms:

It starts and ends with the spores. The spores can be understood as seeds; they are a reproductive structure of the fungus and are produced in the gills of the mushroom, from where they drop down, and in nature will germinate form into mycelium which will in turn at some point produce more mushrooms with more spores.

Most of you will either start with a spore print or a spore syringe. The spore print is made by cutting off the cap of the mushroom and placing it, gills facing down on foil or paper. The spores fall down from the gills and produce a beautiful looking pattern which resembles the gills of the mushroom. Ideally the mushroom spores are the only spores that will be present on this spore print, but bacterial and mold spores could contaminate the print. It's impossible to tell from looking at them.

A spore can be understood almost like a seed, with the difference that it has almost no food reservoir in itself. If put in a moist, warm environment it will germinate but the new organism needs nutrition of some sort to grow into a multicellular structure. Generally one spore will produce mycelium that is monokaryotic, meaning it contains one nucleus per cell. This kind of mycelium is not fertile and will not produce fruits. Only when two monkaryotic and compatible mycelia, e.g. from the same spore print, meet does mating occur and dikaryotic mycelium is formed. This, under the right conditions, will produce fruits. When working with spore syringes one is almost guaranteed to have dikaryotic growth since the syrringe will contain a multitude of spores that will mate once germinated.

The mycelium is generally a white, sometimes fuzzy and sometimes branching growth. The branching is often referred to as rhizomorphic growth, while the fluffy is called tomentose. Generally mushroom growers agree that rhizomorphic growth is more likely to produce good yields and grow faster, while tomentose is seen as weaker mycelium. However both will produce fruits.

Once the mycelium is nourished enough and is put under certain conditions, such as reaching a surface, certain temperature difference, moisture and oxygen content, it will produce fruits. These are the mushrooms. If left to mature the mushrooms will produce spores.

The growth of the mushroom starts out with hyphal knotting - little knots appearing in the white mycelium. These develop into slightly discolored roundish primordia that will develop into pins. The pins will have a darker head which will form into the cap. The developing gills of the mushroom are protected by the partial veil - a thin membrane that will tear once the mushroom matures and the cap opens, so that the spores can drop. With some mushrooms this will hang down like a skirt around the stem of the mushroom, once it's torn.
It is said that harvesting the mushrooms right before this veil tears yields the most potent results. Personally I have no data regarding this and most of the times wait a little longer because it's so pretty to see them open up...


There are several considerations to make before getting started. The main issue with mushroom cultivation is this: in your home or your garden or wherever you choose to grow them, there is a multiplicity of micro-organisms that in general live off the same type of nourishment i.e. substrate that the mushrooms you want to grow do. These micro-organisms will compete for the substrate. Many of these grow much faster than the mycelium of your species and so your fungi will lose to them. This is why it is imperative to work as sterilly as possible.

Undesired micro-organisms are often referred to as contaminations or contaminants. Many of them are airborn or transferred via touch, fall from your clothing or skin. When working in mycology it is thus advisable to:

- wear clean clothing or even protective wear e.g. one-time bibs made of PP or these thigns that surgeons wear
- wear a hair-net or shower-cap
- disinfect your hands and arms using anti-bacterial soap and or ethanol/IPA
- wear gloves and disinfect the gloves repeatedly during your work with ethanol/IPA
- work in a sterile environment i.e. a glove box, a flow hood, a clean bench
- if using a flow hood, leave it running for 30-60 minutes before working, to clean the air in the room.
- don't stir up dust while working or prior to working

You will also want to sterilize your tools as best you can. You have several options. I prefer a combination of two or more of these, just to make sure.
- Pressure cook. wrap them in aluminium foil before you put them in the PC; placing them in a jar with aluminium foil top additionally will keep them out of the water
- flame sterilize - this is great for needles and scalpels or knives
- use a UV-C lamp (280 nm–100 nm) - be careful with your skin and eyes when using UV-radiation. It destroys DNA.
- Use IPA/ethanol to wipe your tools down. Endospores and resistant microbes can survive this.

To sterilize your working area you can:
- use bleach. This kills multi-cellular organisms
- use IPA / ethanol. This kills single cellular organisms
- use a UV-C lamp . This kills DNA...

It's best to start off with a growth medium that is devoid of any competing organisms. In order to achieve this the substrate must be sterilized. There are several ways to do this, but IMO the only sure way to do it is to use a pressure cooker (PC) or an autoclave - which basically is the same thing only designed for labs.
Different substrates require different sterilization steps however.

If you are doing liquid culture (LC) PC for
15 min @ 15 PSI (don't do this longer or your sugars in the LC can caramelize)

For Brown-Rice-Flower (BRF) with vermiculite (often referred to as the PF-Tek):
45 min @ 15 PSI (or longer)

Grains... are more complex:
Due to so called endospores a simple sterilization will not suffice. Preparing grains takes several steps also because one wants to add moisture to the grains and simply pouring it over them is not enough.
Endospores are very heat resistant, which is why Pressure Cooking them does not get rid of them. They are usually bacterial spores that are produced by bacteria when encountering a very dry environment. They can survive dormantly for a long time. When they are subjected to moisture however they will germinate and give rise to bacteria. Once they have germinated the Pressure Cooker can and will destroy them.
In order for them to germinate one soaks the grains for 24 hours in water. This should ensure that all endospores have changed state.
To add moisture to the grains one simmers for ~ 45min or less if the grains start opening.
then you can fill the jars.
to make it unfavorable for molds to collonize your grains you can add lime to raise the PH
To make the grains separate more easily instead of sticking, and to add sulphur for nourishment you can add gypsum (CaSO4)
Mix and Pressure Cook for:
60-90 min @ 15 PSI

a good grain tek with some additional info can be found here: http://www.shroomery.org...ringe-to-print-using-rye

Once you have a fully colonized substrate in your jars you may want to spawn this to larger containers with more nutrients. This will increase your mycelium and thus your yield. Given that you already have a good amount of healthy mycelium the treatment of the bulk substrate does not need to be as rigorous as the initial substrates. It is said that it is even beneficial to leave some bacteria to sruvive in the substrate, which is why one pasteurizes bulk, rather than sterilizing it. Additionally given the amounts that one uses for bulk, a pasteurization is often more practical.

Pastuerization can be done many ways. I prefer to steam the substrate after it#s been placed in bags and brought to the desired moisture content. Boiling it in the same kind of bags using a thermometer to monitor the temperature works as well. Pasteurizing tempreatures are around 70-80°C. Make sure you are reading the temperature inside the bags, not outside, since this can vary greatly.

A great contraption for bulk pasteurization can be easily built - instructions / the basic idea can be found here: http://www.shroomery.org...mber/6972036/an/0/page/0

What is the best way to start?

Getting the equipment together - you will need for the very basics: some jars, a spore print, a syringe, a scalpel or somethign to scrape the spores with, a lighter, a pressure cooker or a pot, somewhere warm and dust-free to put the jars for incubation, a growing area (called Fruiting Chamber or FC) which can be a tub or a greenhouse or even a bucket, a mister, some ehtanol or IPA and other sterilization equipment as denoted above. Aluminum foil. Gloves, surgical mask, shower cap...

If you're trying for LC or grains you will also need either silicon or rubber injection ports, polyfill and tyvek. If you're just doing rye you can do without the silicon or port, but I like having it anyway.

Then you will need the substrate material like BRF or rye/grains, wild bird seed, ... and the additives like lime and gypsum for substrates other than PF-Tek.

And finally you need to consider which strain to start with. Try, if you can, to get a print that you know is sterile. If you can't, good luck, pray that it's ok or that your spores will beat the competing organisms. I have not tried many strains but I think with the Cubensis species most are similar in difficulty and resistance. Just pick the one you like best...

And get started...

Considerations for Liquid Culture

For LC you can use various media. My experiences aren't very wide ranged but as I understand it some sugars that can be used caramelize easily. Honey is used as a simple and easily available medium, beingone of these caramelizing sugars. When the sugars caramelize they become unavailable for the mycelium. Growth is stalled or completely inhibited.
I don't know if this is due to partial caramelization but my honey liquid cultures always took at least 10 days to show significant visible growth.

Using Malt + Dextrose with a pinch of yeast extract as was suggested to me by GreatfulDad (thanks man!) however produces visible mycelium after 2-3 days and significant growth can be seen after 4/5.

I did a side by side innoculation of grain jars with liquid cultures from honey and malt, i.e. liquid cultures that had grown slowly and grown fast respectively. Interestingly this was reproduced in the grains. The honey-jars collonized slower than the malt ones. Honey took about 10 days for full colonization and malt about 7. When spawned to bulk the fast growing myc also showed primordia sooner. A more rigorous test should be performed to find out if this was just coincidence or if the LC medium really influenced the health and potential for rapidity of the mycelium.

For containers I use 0.7L jars and fill them with about 400ml of pre-boiled water. I use preboiled because this gets rid of some of the sediments that otherwise will fall out in the Pressure Cooking. The jars have two rubber injection ports, but silicone works too. the only problem with silicone is that it doesn't regenerate as often as possibly needed.

To inoculate the vacuum in the jar has to be released, otherwise it will suck your spore syringe dry. I use an airport made of a syringe filled with IPA-soaked polyfill that was pre-sterilized. No contaminations should beable to make it through the polyfill/IPA barrier and no contaminations should be on it either.
I use the same kidn of airport for when I'm taking the LC out with a syrringe to prevent from causing too much of a vacuum in the jar, which would make pulling the medium out more difficult.

With malt / dextrose you can see bacterial contaminations fairly easily like in the pic below:

the right one, which is opaque is contaminated with bacteria, the clear, left one is healthy.

Possible Timeline for Different Teks (from my experience)

Day 1: spore syrringe. Let the spores soak in the water for 24 hours so they can germinate and start growing immediately once you inject into the medium. In the mean time you are preparing and sterilizing your BRF
Day 2: innoculation -> incubation
Day 3 - Day 21: incubation. This may take alittle less time. It depends on the strain/sub-strain, the temperature, the moisture content of your BRF etc.
~Day 21: Dunk... (dunk the cakes, that is to say completely submerge the cakes, in cold water for 12 - 24 hours)
~Day 22: ... & Roll. (roll the cakes in dry but clean vermiculite) Then put in the fruiting chamber, however this has been designed. Spray the verm to give them moisture.
Day 22 ~ Day 38: Wait... For me it took almost 17 days for the cakes to fruit. With slightly altered conditions such as more moisture perhaps they could fruit quicker, but I got decent flushes from them, so this is still within the range of the possible.
Day 38 ~...: watch the mushrooms grow, harvest when necessary. Dunk the cakes when harvested for another 12 hours to re-hydrate.

Bulk (using coco coir+straw pellets+verm) spawned from grains, spawned from liquid culture:
Day 1: spore syrringe, that can be immediately injected into the prepared liquid medium. This is then incubated.
Day 10: Liquid medium is ready and is injected into prepared rye jars
Day 20: Rye is fully collonized and is spawned to prepared pasteurized bulk substrate. I use a high ratio of spawn to bulk - something like 3 L jars (2.25L) to 4-5 L bulk. Mixing the spawn with the bulk thoroughly significantly speeds things up IME. I like to put my trays in the incubator for a few days, but depending on what kind of growing system you have it's not always possible.
Day 25: Take out of incubator and apply sterilized or pasteurized casing layer. So far I've used only sterilized, premoisturized vermiculite. Put in fruiting conditions.
Day 39 - Day 46: formation of Primordia. After this it's just watch the mushrooms grow and harvest when needed.

Fruiting Conditions

Generally there are a few factors that need to be optimized for fruting:
- Relative Humidity (RH) ~ 95% or higher if you are growing BRF-cakes. Use a humidifier or a mister to get this to the appropriate levels. Too much RH will cause mycelium to grow on the stems and also make it easier for contaminations to take hold - trich likes high humidity and low air circulation apparently.
- Temperature ~ 21-25°C. Lower can also work but will slow down growth. At this point that's not terrible because also contaminations will grow slower, and the mycelium is already pretty strong and will defend itself against other organisms.
- Gas Exchange (GE) aka Fresh Air Exchange (FAE) - the mycelium needs oxygen and produces carbon dioxide. It is important that the air is circulated and that fresh air is introduced into the fruiting chamber. This can be done by fanning or using a pump, or passively by using polyfill-stuffed holes, or a combination of those.
- Light. Yes, these mushrooms need light. Either use daylight i.e. a window, or buy a lamp that immitates daylight. The light is a pinning trigger, so that without it the mycelium most likely will stay vegetative, meaning it won't produce fruits. I had my light on 12h, off 12h.

Buon viso a cattivo gioco!
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#2 Posted : 4/2/2011 11:07:19 PM

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Wow, very nice information Very happy Nice emphasis on sterilization, a very crucial part that too often makes or breaks growing mushrooms. Also like the general timeline for different TEKs....

Very well done!

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#3 Posted : 4/3/2011 12:29:34 AM

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great post and the onfo is important to know because one day there may not be vendors selling all in one grow kits.

But, because My fist grow went FLAWLESSLY (despite a few errors that obviously had little impact) I will share the secret: shroomexpert style monobags.

I say "style" because I really can't see much difference in what he offers.

But... first grow each bag yielded approx 150-200g cracker dry B+

Seriously could have kept going too. I had a few weak flushes (compared to the others) but even when I threw them out there was primordia all over the place and it ws obviously going to pin up again.

I have travel plans and had to get the home cleaned up... but seriously.... more than I know what to do with. (ethanol extracts being tested)

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#4 Posted : 4/5/2011 12:55:05 AM

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So please, whatever you have to add to this would be very appreciated. ultimately it would be nice to have an info-thread for anyone seeking the basic whys and hows of mushroom growing, so people can grow without following teks blindly - so that they know what they are doing.
Buon viso a cattivo gioco!
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#5 Posted : 4/5/2011 1:13:58 AM

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Very cool, thanks for this! Seeing a whole overview is really helpful.
These aren't the droids you're looking for.
#6 Posted : 6/21/2011 3:31:33 PM
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Can you direct me to the link that explains more about the monobags.

Madcap wrote:
great post and the onfo is important to know because one day there may not be vendors selling all in one grow kits.

But, because My fist grow went FLAWLESSLY (despite a few errors that obviously had little impact) I will share the secret: shroomexpert style monobags.

I say "style" because I really can't see much difference in what he offers.

But... first grow each bag yielded approx 150-200g cracker dry B+

Seriously could have kept going too. I had a few weak flushes (compared to the others) but even when I threw them out there was primordia all over the place and it ws obviously going to pin up again.

I have travel plans and had to get the home cleaned up... but seriously.... more than I know what to do with. (ethanol extracts being tested)

"Talent does what it can, Genius does what it must"
#7 Posted : 5/15/2013 10:11:52 AM


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Brilliant informative post Enoon, thank you. I'm going to give shroom growing a shot soon Smile
#8 Posted : 5/15/2013 2:18:43 PM

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Great info , growing mushrooms is a very satisfying
Persuit . It's a fascinating craft that takes some time
To figure out . My advice is to find a good specific
Tek on the method of your choice and follow it
Exactly to the letter. Don't try and innovate on your first
Try's . Sterilization is one of the most important things
To pay attention to . Take no chances with this aspect.
I had many failures but I stuck to it. It will pay off eventually and
change your life in so many great ways . Learning to
Grow mushrooms is a deep journey in itself .
The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
Arthur C. Clarke

#9 Posted : 8/3/2013 11:30:21 PM

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Looks like this is a topic that needs some bumping, 2011? Seriously? lol
Anyhoo, getting my giant shroom kit Monday, from what I'm reading here, looks like that is all I'll need and then adapt my process to the sterile, seems easy enough to maintain a clean area.
That freaking pic had me droooling big time Twisted Evil

Was able to track down the very shroom I started on, The Huautla, awesome awesome Shocked

Wish me luck, I'm having some great combo experiences with Aya then 5 hours later 8.4 gr cubensis. My concern with the buys was always the worry that someone left a nasty one in the batch, you know, missed it. Well, this is going to stop that concern.

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#10 Posted : 8/3/2013 11:52:40 PM


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Growing your own it very rewarding (and provides that piece of mind you speak of). I started about a year and a half ago and it's just been so fascinating that I haven't stopped (plus I love shrooms, so that's a bonus.)

Good luck! There's a plenty of folks here that can help if you find yourself hitting any snags.

Peace & Blessings

Pup Tentacle

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#11 Posted : 8/4/2013 6:34:46 PM

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Now there is some good news Big grin Thank you, I'll try not to be too "needy" in the info dept, been reading up like mad scientist lol
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#12 Posted : 8/4/2013 7:12:04 PM

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Great post!

Imo generally someone new at cultivation should go with the pf tek, just to get the jist. Theres plenty of roadrunner (the poster of the vids, smart guy) videos about this on youtube. Also learning how to make viable spore prints and syringes is a must.

Then MONOTUBS. There great, after learning the theory behind it. Require minimal effort and produce amazing results.

I have yet to try outdoor bulk grows, however they look interesting.

Also, experimenting with agar petri dishes can be fun and potentially very rewarding. One can see all the different "genes" after the inoculated petri dish has grown a bit, and cut an individual gene strand, with individual gene traits, out to place onto another petri dish, eventually isolating these genes for whatever traits they carry.

I LOVE mushroom growing. And psillyness
Big grin
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#13 Posted : 8/4/2013 10:59:37 PM

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UVC doesn't "kill" DNA, because DNA isn't a living entity. It creates thymine dimers, which prematurely terminates a sequence. however, this is only temporary, as replication can occur when exposure to UVC ceases.

nevertheless, UVC is a great tool to implement, and I do (often) when working with various fungi.
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#14 Posted : 9/13/2017 3:33:51 PM

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When it comes to harm reduction, it starts with the process of safe extraction or rather cultivation, when we talk about mushrooms in particular. I've mentioned the danger of the use of alumium foil, aluminium casings are often used by mycophil fellows as container, before and now I want to give an example of the ever-greedy mycelium, in this case p.c.amazonian, which doesn't stop at nothing. Drool Drool Drool

Of course, this casing has already been dumped.

Pls take this into account, when you arrange your next growsetup.

Happy and safe travel, tseuq
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#15 Posted : 9/13/2017 10:16:47 PM


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My last grow yielded over a pound dry using the monotub bulk technique

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