Part 1 : Unit 2 : Required Items for Mushroom Cultivation
Your first task on the road to mushroom cultivation is to purchase, beg, borrow or commandeer each of the items on this list or the closest approximation possible.
You may also need to purchase a heater or AC cooler for your growing environment to keep the temperature between 22°-27°C, or 70°-80°F. For more information, check our blog post “Regulating Grow Room Temperatures“.
For your convenience, we have added Amazon links to all the items and created a summarized “Amazon Cultivation Item List,” found below. If you’re wondering, all the products on that list amount to about $600 USD and will last you for many grow cycles. If you find any broken or expired Amazon links, please update us via the Contact Page, and we will fix the issue.
While our cultivation method isn’t the cheapest, it aims to increase the chances of a successful grow and simplify the steps in the process. If you need a more affordable alternative for growing magic mushrooms? Check out the “Broke Boi TEK mushroom cultivation guide.
The stars of the show – the spores. These usually come as spore syringes which contain spores in a sterile water solution, or as prints on aluminium foil. Spores can be found online through various spore stores such as sporeworks.com, premiumspores.com, in the USA, magic-mushrooms-shop.com in the EU, and r/sporetraders or r/MycoBuySellTrade on Reddit. If you are considering purchasing spores of psychoactive mushroom species, make sure to verify their legal status in your area before purchasing.
If you are wondering which spores to buy, and which species you should choose for your first cultivation, check out our blog post “which shrooms should I grow?”
A still air box will provide the space and protection you need to perform all the steps in that require cleanliness in the first stages of cultivation. You’re looking for a tub that has some height to it, with dimensions similar to the picture on the right. You want to make sure the plastic is clear so you can see through it. You’ll be making two holes in the box for your hands to go through.
A pressure cooker usually stands at the center of a mushroom cultivator’s arsenal. With this tool, we can cook grain, pressure cook and sterilize various items for mushroom cultivation. While a larger 23 quart, 15 PSI pressure cooker is preferred, a smaller 10 PSI pressure cooker can also be used, but requires 75% more time than a 15 PSI model. Our favorite is the Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker as it is big enough to handle larger items, and has readily available replacement parts. If you’ve never used a pressure cooker before, make sure to read the manual before use, and familiarize yourself with its safety procedures on YouTube.
A steaming rack can greatly aid in the process of safe pressure cooking. It helps lift items in the pressure cooker over the waterline and allows you to gauge with more ease the amount of water you’re adding in…which is a really important thing to do. Make sure you purchase the correct circumference size rack for your pressure cooker.
We use aluminium foil to cover items such as jars and petri dishes. For example, when the jars are inside the pressure cooker, the aluminium foil will protect them from any dripping water. If you can’t find “heavy duty” foil, regular will do just fine as well. If you treat the foil gently when taking it off the jars, you will find that the foil can be reused several times.
You will use the mason jars in the pressure cooker for the sterilization of grain and the preparation of Liquid Culture. The wide mouth version of the jars come with a larger lid which make them easier to modify. Mason jars need to be able to withstand high heat and pressure when inside the pressure cooker, so make sure you get jars that are suitable for canning.
We will be replacing the original metal jar lids with plastic ones, in which it is easier to drill holes in order to create a filter and an injection port. The filter allows for Fresh Air Exchange, and the injection port allows you to inoculate your grain with minimum contamination exposure. This modification shortens and simplifies the growing procedure significantly. Special care should be taken to make sure the lid size matches your mason jars, which often come in two possible lid sizes – “Regular” and “Wide Mouth”.
While pretty much any grain will do as a food source for your mycelium, dry popcorn kernels seem to be the cheapest and most available choice. We have tried wheat, rye, sorgham, and wild bird food successfully. Our course will require about 6 lbs, or 3 kilos of dry corn kernels. Do not purchase and use microwave popcorn bags as they contains extra fats and oils which you do not want in your grain.
This is our preferred tool for making holes in our plastic lids. While you can also use a regular drill bit, we have found that this size step drill bit provides consistent, perfectly sized holes every time, allowing you to have a nice tight fit for your injection ports, and clean cut holes for the filters. Both of these properties help keep contamination out of your mason jars, regardless of what you’re growing inside them.
We use these stickers to cover one of the holes we make in the plastic lids – to create an air filter which allows minimal airflow, while keeping larger bacteria and contaminants out. There are cheaper alternatives than these (such as polyfill). However we have found these stickers to be ideal for the job. Although they can survive the pressure cooker, they should be replaced every two or three heat cycles.
We use sterile syringes to inject and withdraw Liquid Culture (An acronym for Liquid Culture – a liquid growth medium for mycelium, usually gown in a jar of sterile nutrient and water.) in and out of sterile jars. It is important to use a sterile syringe to prevent contamination when you inoculate or transfer mycelium from one place to another. While 10cc syringes are perfectly fine, we prefer to use larger capacity 30 cc syringes in order to transfer more liquid culture at a time. We reuse these syringes by re-sterilizing them in a sterilizing pouch.
The self sealing sterilization pouches are useful for sterilizing and reusing needles, syringes, blades and similar items. This will save you money in the long run, as well as help you recycle and reuse your single use plastics and sharps. Larger pouches are also available for larger items that don’t fit in the 3.5″ x 10″ size pouches.
You will need two, 32 quart sized totes, in which you will grow your mushrooms. You will split your grow area into two/three totes in order to give yourself a better chance of success in the event of contamination. The totes should be clear, with a good sealing lid.
We wear a face mask and nitrile gloves to minimise possible vectors of contamination coming from our breath, hands, skin and fingernails. A pack of 20 or 50 of each would do for starters. Make sure you choose the correct hand size (S / M / L / XL) that matches you.
You will need 70% alcohol for cleaning your environment, equipment and yourselves, at various stages of cultivation. Usually spritzed, occasionally wiped, we love our 70% isopropyl Alcohol . Note that 90% alcohol is less effective at sanitation as it evaporates too quickly.
Vermiculite is a water absorbing mineral that is readily available at hardware stores and garden centers everywhere. You will mix the vermiculite with coco coir and other ingredients to make bulk substrates. Vermiculite does not contain nutrients and is mainly used to help store moisture in the bulk substrate. You need about 4 quarts per grow.
Coco coir is made by pulverizing the coconut shell. It can either come packed into bricks, or as loose fibers. In mushroom cultivation, coco coir is also used as a very basic food source in bulk substrate, although it does not actually contain many nutrients. Coco coir also has the property of helping to retain moisture in the bulk substrate. We need 650g, usually in the form of a single brick, per grow.
Gypsum is a white mineral made of calcium sulfates. It is often used as an additive to fertilizers, and in the manufacturing of plaster and dry walls. Gypsum powder is added to vermiculite and coco coir to make a very basic recipe for bulk substrates. The calcium and Sulphur provide additional nutrients to the mushrooms, making them grow bigger and more potent. You need about 1/4 cup per grow.
This fine mist spray bottle is used during the fruiting stage of mushroom cultivation in order to create tiny water droplets on the surface of the A description for a colonized layer of bulk substrate which has been overtaken by mycelium and solidified into a consistency of a cake.. These ultra fine droplets create better conditions for the mycelium to form hyphal knots, which turn to pins and then mushrooms. Although not strictly required, this mister is nice to have as it can significantly assist in fixing surface conditions in your tub.
You will use the marinate injector syringe to inject water into your A description for a colonized layer of bulk substrate which has been overtaken by mycelium and solidified into a consistency of a cake. after the first (and every subsequent) flush has been harvested. This is our preferred method of rehydrating the mycelium cake – as opposed to drowning it in water.
This is a heavy duty borosilicate glass bottle with an autoclavable GL45 cap. It allows for easy pouring of contents and is great for sterilizing and cooking up agar for mushroom cultivation. This 1 liter flask will allow you to pour about 20-30 Dishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes. at a time.
While we are not fans of single use plastics, we find this to be the preferred product for first time cultivators. Once you get more experience with clean work and sterilization techniques, you can look into purchasing multi-use, high temperature glass Dishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes.. These dishes come in sterile plastic sleeves or boxes.
You will need a scalpel and sterile blades to cleanly and accurately cut out colonized agar from Dishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes., or scrape spores into a sterile agar dish. Sometimes you’ll use your scalpel just to cut your parafilm into strips or chop off the caps of your mushrooms for spore prints. Either way, these are great to have.
Light malt extract powder (LME is an acronym for Light Malt Extract – used as a nutrient source in mushroom cultivation.) is the preferred food source for liquid culture and agar concoctions. It absorbs humidity very quickly, so if the bag isn’t sealed properly after use, the whole bag can solidify and harden. For this reason, when measuring out LME from the bag, make sure your hands and all utilities are dry.
Agar is a jelly like substance which is extracted from algae. When mixed with LME, poured into the petri dishes, and allowed to set, it provides a two dimensional growth bed for mushroom spores and mycelium. The 900 g/cm2 value refers to the strength of the resulting jelly – where 900 is considered “strong”.
You will use the Parafilm to wrap your Dishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes. and seal them. This helps keep contaminants out, and also helps secure the lid of the petri dish to its base. The material is partially elastic and it may take a few times to learn how to apply it correctly around a petri dish.
Next Unit: Modifying jar lids for mushroom cultivation. Learn how to make the perfect mason jar lid for grain spawn and liquid culture jars. This is your first step towards mycelial independence!