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Easiest way to grow mushrooms: make your own grow kit Options
 
Luuk
#1 Posted : 2/12/2013 10:22:10 PM
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This TEK is a modified version of the PF-TEK, like found on http://www.fungifun.org/English/Pftek . A lot of the information here is the same as in the PF-TEK, but it's convenient to have it all in one place. I don’t take credit for any of the information found here, I’ve found everything on the above website or the Shroomery and put it together here.
There is a reason companies selling 'magic mushroom grow kits' or 'mycelium boxes' have been doing it like they do. It is seriously easy to do, it is hard to screw up, and yields are good.
This method is not for people willing to invest serious time in their growing hobby, creating a sterile environment, nice fruiting chambers etc. This is just the easiest way to grow mushrooms.

This TEK is designed for Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, but I think it will work with every mushroom that can be cultivated on brown rice flour.
When I started using mushrooms a few years ago, they were still legal here so we could buy them in the smart shop. 15 euro's for a trip (30 grams fresh) was way overpriced though, and I soon discovered that I could buy pre-made grow kits. These grow kits are made of filter boxes filled with cubensis spawn, and come with a filter bag to fruit in. They cost about 30/35 euros and yielded 400/500 grams fresh. A very big improvement over just buying the shrooms.

After a while I realized that these grow kits were still overpriced and I wanted to grow my own shrooms from scratch. Also grow kits are illegal in a lot of countries.
I looked around on the internet and, of course, I decided that the PF-TEK would be the best way for a beginner to grow mushrooms. I followed the PF-TEK a few times but kept running into some problems:
- When using small jars the yields were small, and when using big jars they took ages to colonize
- When I put them in my improvised fruiting chamber a lot of cakes got contaminated. (Again, this is no problem when you use proper sterile techniques and have a bad-ass fruiting chamber but in my experience this was quite hard)

So I had moderate succes, but by no means as good as with the grow kits. That's when a friend said to me: 'Why don't you make your own grow kits then?'. Awesome idea, as all the ingredients are available online for a few bucks. So here is my TEK:

Ingredients:

- Pressure cooker (large enough to hold your filter boxes)
- Filter boxes (I have 1200 ml rectangular ones. I recommend rectangular ones because they colonize faster.)

- Filter bags

- Organic brown rice flour
- Vermiculite
- Water
- Spore syringe (easy to make, not described here but just google it)

The ratio of dry vermiculite to BRF should be 3,5 to 1 (in volume).

Start by putting your vermiculite in a big bowl and add water until it's saturated. If you add too much let it drip out. Then add your BRF and mix it up.

Loosely fill up your filter boxes to 1 or 2 cm beneath the edge with the substrate you just made.

Poke 4 holes in the lids of the filter boxes, 1 in each corner. Then ducktape them shut. These holes are for inoculating.

Now it's time to sterilize your filter boxes in a pressure cooker. Put a few cm of water in your pressure cooker. Use a rack to keep the filter boxes from touching the bottom. When you put the filter boxes in, don't shut the lids completely! This will cause the boxes to expand and deform. Keep the lids 1/4 open, and cover the boxes with aluminum foil to keep the water from coming in.
Now pressure cook them. I like to be on the safe side and cook for about 2 hours.

Let them cool, then take them out and close the lids. Discard the aluminum foil. Now take your spore syringe, lift up the ducktape until the hole is exposed and squirt a bit of spore solution in the filter box (along the edge of the box so it spreads to the bottom). Put the ducktape back in place. Do this for every hole in every filter box.

Now the filter boxes are inoculated! All we have to do is play the waiting game. If you keep the boxes at high temperatures they will colonize faster, but they'll colonize fine at lower temperatures too. Just don't get them above 30 degrees Celsius. 26 is generally considered a good temperature for colonizing, 23 for fruiting.
In the beginning I used a double tub setup with an aquarium heater in a layer of water in the bottom tub to keep my temperatures high. This is a pretty good way to regulate temperature.

However my heater fluctuated too much so I stopped using it. Now I colonize and fruit at room temp (19 C). It takes a little bit longer but that's not a problem for me. Colonizing at lower temperatures has the advantage that it doesn't have the risk of drying your cake out too much.

Once the boxes are completely colonized it is time to birth them. The fungus used up most of the available water during it's growth, so rehydrate the cake. This is done by opening the lid of the box and filling it completely with water. Close the lid and let the cake suck up water during 12-24 hours. After that pour the remaining water out and take the lid of. Now put the filter box in the filter bag, fold the edge of the bag and secure it with paperclips.
Before you put the box in the bag, it is very useful to ducktape the sides of the box so no light gets through. If you don't do this you will have shrooms growing from the side of the box that you will have to dig out.

So, now you have the colonized box in the bag. Just put the bag somewhere and shrooms will grow (I forgot the ducktape on the side in these pictures).


After each harvest you have to rehydrate the cake. With the 1200 ml box I get about 4/5 harvests and a total of ~40/50 grams dry.
The filter boxes and bags are both reusable many times, just sterilize them in your pressure cooker.

I hope this is useful for some lazy growers, like me. This is really almost impossible to fuck up, the bags are small and easy to conceal, supplies are legal in every country, and it's very cheap with fine yield.
 

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spinCycle
#2 Posted : 2/12/2013 10:35:32 PM

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Sometimes I think this forum reads my mind. Big grin

One question, are the filter boxes you show commercially available or something you fabricate?
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Luuk
#3 Posted : 2/12/2013 10:48:17 PM
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The filter boxes and bags are available on the internet for 1 or 2 dollars/euros a piece. Just google 'filter box mushrooms' and 'filter bag mushrooms' or something along those lines.
 
spinCycle
#4 Posted : 2/12/2013 11:56:59 PM

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Bless you. Thumbs up
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Kash
#5 Posted : 2/13/2013 1:15:52 AM

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Brilliant! Swim may actually have to try this, good work it sounds so much easier than the standard tedious teks out there. Those are some huge mushies btw why did they get so big? Shocked
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Luuk
#6 Posted : 2/13/2013 3:24:48 AM
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The first flush usually produces a lot of smaller shrooms, later flushes fewer but bigger ones. That pic is of the second flush, the biggest shroom was 55 grams freshSmile
 
twofourtwo
#7 Posted : 2/15/2013 10:57:13 AM

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Luuk wrote:
The filter boxes and bags are available on the internet for 1 or 2 dollars/euros a piece. Just google 'filter box mushrooms' and 'filter bag mushrooms' or something along those lines.



I kept the bag and box from my last growkit, so I'll use that to give this method a try.
I presume there are no alternatives to using a pressure cooker for sterilizing?

dankjewel Luuk/ thanks!
 
Luuk
#8 Posted : 2/15/2013 7:33:15 PM
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twofourtwo wrote:

I presume there are no alternatives to using a pressure cooker for sterilizing?


Yes you can also sterilize in a normal pan, you have to cook for a bit longer (about 3-4 hours). The risk of contamination is apparently a bit higher but it has worked fine for me in the past. Just like in the PC, put a layer of water in the pan and make sure the boxes don't touch the bottom. Also, because steam escapes you might have to put some more water in the pan after a while.

By the way check out this bad boy, my new record holderCool :
Luuk attached the following image(s):
2013-02-15-393.jpg (1,404kb) downloaded 756 time(s).
2013-02-15-397.jpg (1,843kb) downloaded 763 time(s).
 
twofourtwo
#9 Posted : 2/15/2013 10:12:30 PM

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Thanks for the reply, I didn't really feel like investing in a pressure cooker at the moment. I was wondering if maybe a microwave would work - but then, I dislike microwaves and wouldn't use them anyway.


Luuk wrote:
Yes you can also sterilize in a normal pan, you have to cook for a bit longer (about 3-4 hours). The risk of contamination is apparently a bit higher but it has worked fine for me in the past. Just like in the PC, put a layer of water in the pan and make sure the boxes don't touch the bottom. Also, because steam escapes you might have to put some more water in the pan after a while.


Luuk wrote:
By the way check out this bad boy, my new record holderCool :


does that scale really say 76 grams?
I think I understand the concept of 'penis envy mushroom' a little better now Big grin

 
Kash
#10 Posted : 2/15/2013 10:46:49 PM

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Woah. 76 grams what a monster Drool . Thats one bad infected mushroom!
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#11 Posted : 2/22/2013 7:30:26 AM

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Thank you so much for posting this.
I started off this year with my very first mushroom grow. I decided to go for one of these grow kits to witness the life cycle and have some results without too much fear of messing things up. I was originally planning on moving on to PF tek after that grow to steadily get into more serious cultivation, but after reading more about it, PF tek seems like a lot more work for arguably small yields. I was originally looking for a sort of shotgun/mono hybrid, since the shotgun fruiting chamber seems really optimal, but using cakes just seems less efficient than trays, monotubs and what have you.

Then I started thinking about simply making my own substrate to make my own grow kits. Preparing these boxes myself would already be a good leap forward in more personal cultivation for me, while I can still make use of a lot of what I've learned so far. I searched around for a while but couldn't find any real info in this, so I'm very glad to see this thread, thanks again Smile

Luuk wrote:
[quote=twofourtwo]By the way check out this bad boy, my new record holderCool :


Wow, that one is enormous, congrats man. What variety is it, if I may ask?
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Luuk
#12 Posted : 2/26/2013 7:46:24 PM
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Yeah the PF tek is usually promoted as the best way to start growing mushrooms, but I think making growkits is so much easier and more rewarding. Bulk methods like monotubs are awesome, I really want to see a field of mushrooms. Haven't got space and time for it at the moment though.
The strain I use here is cambodian. Strain choice affects shape of the mushrooms, but for the rest differences are minimal between cubensis strains. Cambodian is quite popular though, it's been used for a long time and is quite stable which makes it suitable for making your own spore prints.
 
#13 Posted : 2/27/2013 11:02:25 AM

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How about adding a layer of perlite at the bottom? Isn't that supposed to be more optimal for gradually releasing moisture into the substrate, or is that really not necessary? The kit I have at the moment has a few centimeters at the bottom. Looking at your massive fruits it doesn't seem to be all that crucial though Razz
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Luuk
#14 Posted : 2/28/2013 9:46:21 AM
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The vermiculite provides enough moisture for the shrooms. A small layer of perlite on the bottom is a good idea though, as it would prevent pools of water from forming and thus reduce chances of contamination. A cm would be enough.
 
SKA
#15 Posted : 3/4/2013 9:16:22 PM
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I am about to start growing some P.Cubensis too. Unfortunately I have no
pressure cooker so I'll have to improvise with what I do have.

I was thinking of using a Pyrex baking tray, putting my substrate in it,
moistening it with water & heating it to 200 degrees Celcius
for about 3 hours. Then letting it cool off & putting the baking tray into
a decontaminated(IPA-sprayed) Terrarrium. Then innoculate the substrate
with spores and close off the terrarrium with an airtight lid. I'd start
letting filtered air into the terrarrium once the substrate is colonised.

Would such an oven-sterilisation be sufficient to prevent contamination?

Also I have Vermiculite, Perlite & Rye kernels for substrate material.
I'll try to oven-sterilise a mix of it and put it in a terrarrium.
Wish me luck.
 
corpus callosum
#16 Posted : 3/7/2013 6:35:23 PM

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This is a very good thread and idea. Thumbs up

Do you guys think that one could mimic a filter grow box by using a tupperware tub, removing a rectangular part from the centre of the tubs lid and taping firmly over this aperture a part of a mushroom grow bag containing the filter strip?

I have several 0.9L opaque rectangular tubs made of microwaveable plastic and some mushroom grow bags with the ventilation strips which look like a zipper and was wondering if such a filter grow box could be cobbled together.The tubs also have press-down flaps which when snapped down render the tub waterproof.I wonder if leaving these clips open would serve the purpose of not sealing the tub fully, akin to leaving the tub partially opened as per the OPs advice?

Lastly, would it be wise to put a layer of vermiculite on top of the substrate in the box before pressure-cooking, to occupy the uppermost 1-2cm?
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Luuk
#17 Posted : 3/8/2013 6:15:58 PM
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SKA wrote:
I am about to start growing some P.Cubensis too. Unfortunately I have no
pressure cooker so I'll have to improvise with what I do have.

I was thinking of using a Pyrex baking tray, putting my substrate in it,
moistening it with water & heating it to 200 degrees Celcius
for about 3 hours. Then letting it cool off & putting the baking tray into
a decontaminated(IPA-sprayed) Terrarrium. Then innoculate the substrate
with spores and close off the terrarrium with an airtight lid. I'd start
letting filtered air into the terrarrium once the substrate is colonised.

Would such an oven-sterilisation be sufficient to prevent contamination?

Also I have Vermiculite, Perlite & Rye kernels for substrate material.
I'll try to oven-sterilise a mix of it and put it in a terrarrium.
Wish me luck.



I don't think oven sterilization would be a good idea. An oven is very dry and 3 hours will dry your substrate out. Also at 200 degrees Celsius lots of chemical processes will happen in the rice flour, these might also have an effect.
What people usually do when they don't have access to a pressure cooker is use a double boiler setup. This is done by putting your tray/jars/boxes/bags with substrate in a pan with a layer of water on the bottom, then put this pan in another pan which has boiling water in it. Cook for 3 hours, and be sure to refill the layer of water in the top pan. This way humidity in the pan will stay 100% and your substrate won't dry out.
However, a large baking tray won't fit in a pan. You could sterilize your substrate in smaller containers/bags, then empty these containers in your IPA-sterilized baking tray.

This is a lot more work than the original method though, and if you intend to make a tray and use a terrarium you should look into monotubs.


corpus callosum wrote:
This is a very good thread and idea. Thumbs up

Do you guys think that one could mimic a filter grow box by using a tupperware tub, removing a rectangular part from the centre of the tubs lid and taping firmly over this aperture a part of a mushroom grow bag containing the filter strip?

I have several 0.9L opaque rectangular tubs made of microwaveable plastic and some mushroom grow bags with the ventilation strips which look like a zipper and was wondering if such a filter grow box could be cobbled together.The tubs also have press-down flaps which when snapped down render the tub waterproof.I wonder if leaving these clips open would serve the purpose of not sealing the tub fully, akin to leaving the tub partially opened as per the OPs advice?

Lastly, would it be wise to put a layer of vermiculite on top of the substrate in the box before pressure-cooking, to occupy the uppermost 1-2cm?


Other airtight plastic boxes should work just fine if you put a filter from a mushroom growing bag on them. Use good tape, otherwise it will be pressure-cooked off.
Leaving the boxes partially opened while sterilizing is to let the pressure escape to prevent them from exploding/imploding. I think leaving the clips on your tub open would be fine.
Putting a layer of vermiculite on top of the substrate is often recommended to make it harder for contams to get to the substrate. If you work carefully this is not necessary, but do it if you want to be extra sure.
 
Whatis
#18 Posted : 2/28/2016 12:20:48 PM

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Reviving this thread, because I have some questions. Is anyone able to help me on the following?...

How much solution from a spore syringe should I put in each corner - I have found conflicting amounts on the web. Does it matter?

I think my boxes have failed. If they start to grow mold (white and fluffy) thats bad right? I just went to rehydrate the boxes before putting them in the fridge but there was a clump of mold in one corner.

How can you tell when spores have innoculated the box? I had my boxes in a warm water bath, but nothing seemed to happen over several weeks.

Thanks for all your help guys.

Smile
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anne halonium
#19 Posted : 2/28/2016 10:04:07 PM

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its easy, dump the kits and clean the lab and read this.........

https://www.dmt-nexus.me/forum/default.aspx?g=posts&t=62792

more details can be found in the "violet teks" at rogers place.........

best of luck.
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