Part 1 : Unit 1 : Magic Mushroom Cultivation Overview
Before you begin, here’s a quick summary of the cultivation process so that you understand where you’re heading and what you’re preparing for. Read through this Unit carefully (don’t skip it!) and try to get a mental picture of the steps with the help of the animations.
At this stage, you don’t need to understand the details, just the overall process. As part of your preparation, you should be able to describe the outline of magic mushroom cultivation to all your friends. We’re pretty sure they will want to hear all about it 😋.
Your cultivation journey begins by placing mushroom sporesmushroom spores in nutrient agarAgar mixed with nutrients such as honey or light malt extract powder. The nutrients provide food for the mycelium. petri dishesDishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes., allowing them to germinate and grow into mycelium. This process needs to happen under very clean conditions so that no contaminants enter and compete with the freshly growing mycelium. In this part, there’s a definite “mad scientist” vibe going on, with gloves, masks, alcohol, and spray bottles. And it’s ok to wear a lab coat too. Bring it on.
Once enough mycelium has grown in the petri dish and is visually free from contamination, you will cut out a small piece of mycelium and use it to inoculate some liquid culture. This piece will allow the selection of mycelium to grow and multiply inside the sterile liquid, which will provide us with large amounts of Liquid Culture for future grain inoculation.
The next step is preparing your (popcorn) grain spawn. You will soak your grain in water, sieve it, put it in mason jars, and then sterilize the grain in a pressure cooker. Once cooled, you will inject the grain jars with Liquid Culture (which you prepared earlier) and leave them in the dark for about 14 days for the mycelium to completely colonize the grain in the jars.
It’s time to prepare your bulk substrate – the final food source of the mushrooms. Bulk substrate is a mix of coco coir, vermiculite, and a bit of gypsum powder with water. You will pasteurize this mixture in a bucket, mix it with the colonized grain spawn and place it in a plastic tub. You will then cover it and leave it in a dark place to incubate for about ten days. The resulting mycelium cake will then be ready to start its “fruiting” process.
This exciting stage involves taking the tub out of the dark, cracking the lid open, and allowing airflow – known as “Fresh Air Exchange” (FAEFAE – an acronym for Fresh Air Exchange. Allowing fresh air into the monotub. This in turn induces fruiting.). Within about ten days of FAE, small mushroom pins should appear on the surface of the cake. They grow very quickly from the moment they appear – 3 to 4 days later, they are ready to be plucked and harvested.
Your mycelium cake hasn’t said its last word! Depending on the surrounding conditions, your cake could produce several more “waves” of mushroom growth, called “flushes“. In order to help make this happen, you will need to rehydrate your mycelium cakeA description for a colonized layer of bulk substrate which has been overtaken by mycelium and solidified into a consistency of a cake. with water after every flush, as it is made of 90% water. Depending on the health of the mycelium cake, sometimes you can get 3-4 additional flushes of mushrooms! 🥳🍄
Next Unit: Things you will need for mushroom cultivation. You will need to beg, borrow or commandeer various items for your cultivation journey. In the next module we detail that list.
What can you use instead of a pressure cooker
A pressure cooker is fairly important for the process of mushroom cultivation, you need it for the first few steps of the process. Saying this, there *are* methods of growing mushrooms that do not involve a pressure cooker. Check for “Uncle bens TeK” on google – this is a method of using a specific “Uncles Ben” rice pack as grain spawn, which avoids the use of a cooker. This method is tricky and not always successful.