Before you start!!! Realize that this method is not the best for a beginner to mushroom cultivation. If you are a beginner and would like to see the newbie way, go to Psylocybe Fanaticus's page. You can check out his tek and get spores from there (unless you only grow legal, edible mushrooms like I do ;) ). Ideally, you should have a couple of harvests with the PF-tek before you go on to whole grains. It lets you learn about the life cycle of the mushrooms and is much more forgiving about sterility matters. Enough BS, here's my way :p.
Step 1: Acquire 1 pint wide mouth canning jars and lids. That is the minimum size I suggest using for this method, bigger is better though if you have the room. The lids should have 1 hole poked through them as in fig. 1. **Note 11-7-00** After having some complications with jars sealing during pressure cooking, and not getting any oxygen, effectively stopping all growth, I've found it's better to use the lids upside down a la PF tek.**End Note** You will also need birdseed (any kind that is comprised mostly of white millet should work fine), a pressure cooker and aluminum foil. The brand of seed I used this time is shown in fig 1a.
Step 2: Measure out 2/3 cup birdseed into every pint jar. Since the birdseed I got this time came with bird-kote on it (fig. 1a), I rinsed it off as well as possible. I've had decent results even with the bird-kote, but I just feel better with it off for some reason :) . To rinse, I just mixed in some water (enough to cover it all) stirred and let it soak for a few minutes then drained the jars. Figure 4 is what was drained off yummy eh? See figs. 2, 3, and 4.
Step 3: Next you need to add the water. I used 1/3 cup water to 2/3 cup birdseed which has been working quite consistently for me. Even with different batches of seed. See fig. 5.
Next is a pic of some jars ready to be capped with foil and put in the pressure cooker.
Step 4: Cover the jar lids with aluminum foil and pressure cook at 15 psi for an hour. Having a pressure cooker is absolutely essential in using this method. Don't even try it if you don't have one. I just left the jars in the cooker overnight after cooking and let them cool slowly, but I've thrown them in the freezer right after cooking before to cool them off quickly with no problems.
Step 5: Wait until the jars are cool to the touch before going on. Taping the holes on the lids while the jar/substrate is still hot will cause a vacuum inside the jar that will suck in surrounding air when the tape is lifted for inoculation. I usually turn the oven on (~250 F)and remove the tray a little (the oven-tek). I use the tray to sit the jars on while I remove the foil and tape the holes in the lids, being as sterile as possible. The hot air coming out of the oven will help keep contaminants away from the area. After the jars are taped, give them a nice shake to break up all the grain. Fig. 8 shows the prepared jars ready for inoculation.
Step 6 Next, all you need to do is inoculate the jars via syringe. You can use the oven tek again for this but it is usually sufficient to do it in a clean room with no air movement. It usually takes around 3 days to see growth in the jars. I don't shake after I inoculate until I see growth, but many do with success, it's a matter of preference. After the mycelium starts growing well, give the jars a good shake. This will distribute colonized kernels throughout the jar, they will recover in 24-48 hours usually and begin growing and spreading to more grain kernels. I usually end up shaking them up 2-4 times while they're colonizing. Average colonization time with 1cc spore solution is 2-3 weeks. If they suddenly stop growing, loosen the lid or pull the tape off (using the oven tek if you want to be really safe), it's most likely due to lack of oxygen, which is the only problem I've had with my method. I haven't had a chance to try polyfill instead of tape yet, but I may give it a shot someday, I'm sure that would eliminate the problem. After colonized, the seed is cased with vermiculite, 50/50+ or other appropriate casing. Happy growing!
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