A NOTE OF WARNING
PF TEK is a few years old now and there have been significant
improvements to the different procedures. Any actual errors in the
original document have been corrected but the actual procedure has been
left intact, even if it is a bit old school.
does not mean that the procedures described here will not work, in fact
they work very well, but along the way people have come up with
complementary methods which improve this TEK even more. That said, this
text teaches you the basics that you will use during the whole of your
mushroom cultivating experience and it is probably the best starting
point into this hobby.
So read this, try and fully understand
it, and then read about the upgrades to the PF TEK in the Basic
Cultivation Guides section.
The PF TEK is basically a brown rice
method with an improved formula by using
vermiculite as a base and adding pulverized
brown rice. The secret is in the vermiculite.
When mycelium is cultured in just grain, the
mycelium turns into a mass with little air
space. But when grown with vermiculite,
the mycelial threads stretch across space.
The important thing about the PF TEK, is
that it copies nature. Instead of the usual
cloning of mushroom tissue and growing
mushrooms from that, a mass spore
inoculation is employed directly to the
fruiting substrate. That way, the genotype
remains complete. Senescence (mutating
and ceased fruiting) is no longer a problem.
The spores ensure a never ending
succession of fungus, with all the power of
the spores reproductive ability intact.
OVERVIEW OF PF TECHNIQUES
1. Brown rice powder, vermiculite and
distilled water are mixed and loaded into a
1/2 pint jar, which is steam sterilized. The
jar is then inoculated by the spore syringe.
2. After the substrate cake in the jar
colonizes and begins to show signs of
fruiting, the cake is released from the jar
and placed into the dual chambered
terrarium (or a different fruiting chamber of your choice) to fruit.
3. A mature mushroom is decapitated and
spore printed in a jar.
4. Spore syringes are prepared with the
spore print jar to begin another life cycle.
BASIC MATERIALS LIST FOR
PF jar preparation and culturing (Stage
(Domestic products - supermarket -
department - drugstore - hardware store)
1. Measuring cups and spoons
2. Large pot for steaming
3. Shoulderless half-pint jars with lids (Kerr
4. Organic brown rice flour (organic food
5. Horticultural vermiculite (medium or fine
grade - not powdery)
6. Distilled or filtered drinking water
7. Heavy duty tin foil
8. Heavy duty (professional grade) masking
9. Ice pick/Hammer and nail (for punching needle holes in the
culture jar lid)
Mushroom growing (Stage two)
Pet shop - Hardware store
1. 10 gallon aquarium
2. Cut piece of transparent plastic
(Plexiglas) - (terrarium chamber partition)
3. Strips of wood with connectors and
screws (terrarium lid)
4. Plastic film and thumb tacks (terrarium
5. Small wall type thermometer
6. "All purpose" water spray bottle with an
adjustable nozzle (hardware and grocery
stores). Procure one that gives a good
strong spray for instant humidification.
Avoid recycled kitchen product sprayers.
This is a critical piece of equipment. Only a
good quality sprayer (a couple of dollars at
a hardware store) can immediately
supercharge the dual chambered terrarium
with high humidity.
7. Wire screen - plastic containers - plastic
bags - (drying mushrooms)
8. DESICCANT (drying mushrooms)
(scientific - chemical - lab supply)
Spore printing and spore syringe
making (Stage three)
1. Micro curved cuticle (finger nail) scissors
(cosmetics - drug store)
2. Denatured alcohol (fuel - hardware
3. Tequila shot glass and eye dropper
(sterilizing and flaming)
4. Glass stirring rod (Scientific supply)
5. Plastic syringes (10cc or bigger) and 18
gauge 1 1/2 inch needles.
Large sized syringes are good (20cc - 65cc)
as well as extra long needles if available.
(Retail medical - health supply - pharmacies
- drug stores - scientific and lab supply)
PF SUBSTRATE FORMULATION
Jars and glasses to be used with this technique are 1/2 pint
capacity (8 ounces) - (250 milliliters). They must have
tapered sides and no shoulders, otherwise the fungus cakes
won't easily come out of the jars.
Appropriate jars; (source - super markets and hardware
1. KERR wide mouth half pint canning jar - preferable
2. BALL wide mouth half pint (similar to the KERR wide mouth half pint) - preferable
3. BALL regular mouth half pint canning jar
4. BALL half pint jelly jar
5. 1/2 pint (250 ml) capacity drinking glasses (tapered
NOTE: Even though the regular mouth BALL half pint
and the regular mouth KERR half pint look similar, the
KERR is not tapered.
1/4 cup of brown rice powder
1/2 cup of vermiculite
45 - 60 ml (cc) water (1/4 cup = 59 ml)
or - by volume - one part brown rice,
one part water, two parts vermiculite.
Not all vermiculite is the same. The coarseness varies
quite considerably among different brands. The coarser
type will hold less water than the finer type which will alter
the water holding capacity. If the formulation (water
content) results in a really wet or sloppy substrate, use less
water. Keep notes on formulas for replicating the
substrate formula that fruits the best. A slightly drier substrate is
better than a slightly wetter one, so if your mix looks sloppy add a
little less water next batch.
The above formula utilizes the finer type of vermiculite. If it is used with the finer
type of vermiculite, the jar lid should be loose during
incubation (see - "The canning jar lid - loose or tight").
The finer type of vermiculite is recommended over the
coarser type because it holds more water. To ascertain the
size of the vermiculite particles, observe them under a
photo magnifier next to a millimeter ruler. The finer type
of vermiculite has particles averaging around 1 millimeter
across (some larger and some smaller). The coarser type
has particles averaging around 4 or 5 millimeters across
and up to 8 millimeters. Stores usually carry one type.
Plus, there will be regional differences in the different
brands of vermiculite. Shop around and try to get both
types to compare.
To make homemade brown rice powder, place some
regular brown rice in a small canister type coffee bean
grinder and grind it to fine powder. Freshly ground brown
rice is recommended over prepackaged type. The
freshness sometimes makes a big difference.
If the measuring cup specs aren't true, the formulas will be
off, setting up certain failure or diminished growth. Check
the cup measurers this way: 1 cup is 237 milliliters which
is 1/2 pint or 8 liquid ounces (English measurement).
There are 2 cups in a pint, 2 pints in a quart and 4 cups in
Prepare the canning lid by placing it with the rubber
sealing edge upwards on a supporting surface and with a
sharpened 3 penny nail (held with vise grip pliers), punch 4
holes inside the periphery of the rubber sealing edge.
When using two piece canning jar lids, the inner lid (with
the rubber edges up) rests on the top of the jar and when
the lid band is screwed off, the lid remains resting on the
jar top. To make the lid and band act as one lid, place
pieces of masking tape on the lid attaching the band to the
lid. Then, the lid can be adjusted for air ventilation and
looseness like an ordinary one piece jar lid.
PF SUBSTRATE JAR PREPARATION
Steam sterilizing PF substrate jars with regular cookware
is possible because there is no grain to cook up and the
substrate is airy. Other regular jars (other than canning
type) or small drinking glasses (with tin foil covering) can
be substituted for these canning jars. To insure similar
results, make sure the jars or glasses are tapered sided
with no shoulder of any kind, and that they have a 1/2 pint
(8 ounce - 250 ml) capacity. It is important to note, that
jars somewhat larger than 1/2 pint are unreliable for the PF
TEK and fail easily. The low form KERR 1/2 pint canning
jar is the most versatile (fits into tight spaces et).
A 3 piece vegetable steamer (pot, basket insert & lid) is
used for the steam sterilizing stage. Also, the stainless
steel vegetable steamers that fold out and stand on the
bottom of the pot are good. Anything is good as long as it
keeps the jar bottoms off the pot bottom where the high
temperature will crack the glass.
Step 1. Place 1/2 cup of vermiculite into a mixing bowl. Then slowly
add the water mixing as you go. If water starts pooling at the bottom
of the bowl when you only have a little water left, and the vermiculite
won't suck any more of it up, stop there. Then add the brown rice flour
and mix it well so it is distributed evenly. Mix Each jars substrate
individually for loading to ensure
accurate formula rendering.This way, if you made your first mix too
wet, you can correct it in the next batch.
A note on water: A recent update is worth mentioning. Water quality is
indeed important. I have found out that "natural" water is the water to
use. It makes for better cultivation of this mushroom on this simple
substrate. Distilled water is good for making spore solutions and
syringes and storing spore solution. But for growing, they seem to like
the "natural" water such as: swamp, lake, stream, pond,river, ground or
any water that is rich in organics. I have heard that "mineral" type
drinking water is good and makes a difference. I suppose that water
seeping from an organic compost pile would be about the best.
Step 2. Fill the jar very loosely. Leave a 1/2 to 3/4 inch
space at the top. Level the substrate. With a tissue or a
fingertip, wipe the insides of the jar down to the substrate. Fill the
top of the jar with plain dry vermiculite and level it
off at the top. This upper layer will protect the wet substrate from
air borne contaminants. It acts as a contaminant barrier. This is a
Psylocybe Fanaticus original discovery. What this dry vermiculite layer
does is protect
the wet substrate from airborne contaminants and also
absorbs and regulates moisture transpiration and
In the photo, the black tape is the depth for the dry
vermiculite. The masking tape shows where the pf substrate goes. The
top layer of dry vermiculite must be between 1/2" to 2/3" deep to
provide protection from contaminants entering from above.
Tamping down tek
Getting the substrate level correct is very important. A
slight tamping down is required. To get an accurate
leveling of the substrate, loosely load the 1/2 pint jar and
level the top of the mixture with the top of the jar. Screw
a cap on the top to hold the mixture in. With one hand,
hold the jar and lightly slam the bottom of the jar on the
other palm a couple of times to lower the mixture level to
around 1/2"-2/3" from the top rim. Further level and
adjust the substrate with a fork down to the proper height.
Clean the inside of the jar down to the substrate level with
your fiinger tip or a paper towel and fill the jar back to the
top with dry vermiculite.
Step 3. Place the lid on the jar with the rubberized edge
up (jagged edges of the needle holes down). Screw the lid
band on. Place pieces of "professional" grade masking
tape (holds on during steaming) over the needle holes.
This is to protect the needle holes from contaminant entry.
Step 4. Heat the pot of water to a boil. Put the jars into
the pot with the lid bands loose so that the steam can
penetrate the jars quickly. The jars can sit in water but
make sure boiling water can't slosh into the jars. Turn the
heat down and GENTLY steam the jars at the lowest
possible boil for an hour in a TIGHTLY covered pot (gas
stoves are the easiest to control). A good tight fitting pot
lid is essential for successful steaming.
When steaming or pressure canning is performed, the jars
must be protected from water dripping down from the
underside of the pot lid caused by heavy condensation and
drip off during boiling. This water can get into the jars by
entering under the jar lids that aren’t tight and soaking the
substrate - throwing off the formula and setting up failure.
To prevent this, wrap some tin foil around the cap to ward
off the water. The tin foil can be removed after steaming
(with the tape guarding the needle holes - or the tin foil
can be left on until it is inoculation time.)
Be careful to not
overheat the jars, this dries the substrate. Drying is
evidenced by o.k. spore germination and halted growth.
The fungus will spread but stop at a certain point
depending on how dry the substrate has become.
Generally, any halted growth (with no contamination) is a
sign of dried substrate. This is an important concept that
will enable diagnosis and correction of problems
experienced with drying. The remedy is to increase the
water content of the substrate formula in use. After the
jars have cooled, tighten the lids and store them in a cool
draft free place until ready to inoculate them.
PRESSURE CANNER USE
PF jars and water bottles can be quickly sterilized with a
pressure canner. For proper and safe use of the pressure
canner, always refer to the manual that comes with it. If
the canner is used and has no manual , try to get one from
the manufacturer before using it. Pressure canners can be
dangerous if used incorrectly.
1. 1/2 pint PF substrate jars - 12 p.s.i. for 20 minutes(better: 45-60 minutes)
2. Water bottles - 12 p.s.i. for 55 minutes
3. Syringes and needles - 12 p.s.i. for 10 minutes
INOCULATION OF THE PF SUBSTRATE JARS
Any jar to be inoculated must be cool to the touch before
proceeding. Make sure the lid is tight. Shake the syringe
well and remove the tape from the syringe needle guard.
This shaking of the syringe is important as to redistribute
the spores in the water. Take off the tape covering the
needle holes. Remove the needle guard and insert the
needle through the lid hole. Tilt the syringe body back
towards the center of the lid with the needle tip touching
the glass. This distributes the spore water down the side
of the jar, giving a good inoculation down the side of the
substrate cake. Inoculate a few drops down each needle
hole. As the syringe plunger is pressed, observe the needle
tip against the inside of the glass. As soon as water
appears around the needle tip, release the syringe plunger
pressure. In between each hole inoculation, shake the
syringe a little to keep the spores distributed. Use 1 cc per
jar. This will allow the syringe to inoculate 10 jars. More
spore solution per jar can be used (speeds colonization),
but fewer jars can be inoculated . If the syringe needle
plugs up as it is inserted into the substrate, draw the
needle back a little and it will unplug.
In this photo, the needle tip can be seen resting against the inside
surface of the jar. Then, when the solution is injected, it will run
down the side of glass, giving an even inoculation. It is also
important to add, that the vermiculite in this jar photo is very
course. This makes the needle more visible for the demo. This type of
vermiculite is best avoided.
ALCOHOL FLAMING TECHNIQUE
Before innoculating with your spore solution, flame the needle to
sterilize it. An alcohol flame is a clean flame whereas a
butain cigarette lighter leaves behind an undesirable soot
residue (but using a lighter is better than no flaming at all). To
produce a short burning alcohol flame, place a
tequila shotglass upside down. Using an eyedropper, put a
few drops of denatured alcohol fuel (hardware store) on
the hollow bottom of the glass and touch it with a match
or lighter. The blue flame will cleanly and safely sterilize
small stainless steel tools. Heat the needle in the flame for
a few seconds (until it glows red) to sterilize it. There might be a
"pops" of boiling water spurt out of the needle, but the
spores within the syringe are safe. You should flame sterilize you
needle before innoculating each jar (but not for every hole in the same
jar). That way, if one of your jars contains any kind of contaminant
you won't spread it to any of the other jars. If there is some left
over spore solution, replace the needle guard and store the
syringe for later use. Resterilize the needle immediately
before re-use. Store the syringe in a dark, cool place.
INOCULATION OF PF JARS WITHOUT
technique can also be used if canning jars are not available (1/2 pint
wide mouth canning jars are perfect and should be used at all cost). If
regular drinking glasses are to be used - use regular tapered sided
drinking glasses (8 ounce - 250ml)
Jars can be inoculated without using a lid with holes
punched. Before trying this technique, inoculate with the
punched lid first. That will show how it works without
any problems (almost fail proof).
The only precaution to observe is to disturb the dry top
vermiculite layer as little as possible, especially when
removing the needle after the inoculation. The underlying
substrate must not be exposed to the air. Carefully move
any disturbed vermiculite back into place. If using a
drinking glass or alternate container, cover the mouth with
tin foil. Replace the tin foil cover after inoculation.
INCUBATION OF INOCULATED JARS
After inoculation of the jars, tighten the lid bands and
retape the needle holes. Place the jars in a safe place out
of direct sunlight. Indirect light is all that is required. If
the temperature is kept around 70 degrees, germination
will begin within 3 to 5 days. Germinating spores appear
as small white fuzzy spots, quickly growing and spreading
with cottony white growth and strandy "rhizomorphs".
Any room temperature is O.K. If it gets cold indoors,
over head light shinning down on the tops of the jars is a
perfect heating technique for this culturing stage. A
clamping type light with a reflector works well for this. If
this is done, keep the temperature around 70 degrees
(don't overheat the jars - monitor the temperature with a
thermometer). A warm overall house temperature is fine.
But in the overall view, cool temperatures are never a
problem. The rule is to not overheat.
A note on incubation:
is NOT compulsory. As long as your temperatures are in the 70ºF range
the whole process will work fine and you need not bother with the extra
work and expense of an incubator. While incubation at a temperature of
around 80ºF will speed up the process slightly it also tends to
increase the rate of contamination. This is because the higher
temperatures also speed up the growth of contaminants. In fact it
speeds it up more than that of the mushroom, and those contaminants
have a better chance of overrunning the substrate.
no case whatsoever should the temperature be higher than 80ºF as higher
temperatures can actually slow growth or, if they get really hot, kill
THE CANNING JAR LID
(loose or tight)
There are two choices with the lids during incubation -
tight or loose. With a very high moisture content (good
for fruiting), a tight lid can cause water to collect in the
bottom of the jar. This is to be avoided. If it happens, the
lid should be kept on loose during incubation. Tape the canning jar lid
to the band to make the lid act as a one piece lid for raising and
lowering. If the
substrate is on the dry side, a tight lid will preserve the
moisture content. It is all a matter of the balance between
the water needs of the mycelium, the size of the jar, the
available air space in the jar and the type of vermiculite
used. Only by simple experimenting and comparison can
the right balance be found for a given set of conditions. Take notes
and go with what fruits the best.
After the substrate turns white with the mycelium (2 or 3
weeks after inoculation), the jars are left to sit in indirect
light. The mycelium will continue to infiltrate the
substrate until it gets enough food to trigger the fruiting
cycle. In less than a week to a few weeks after surface
colonization of the cake, tiny white "pin" like structures
begin to appear. This is called pinning. This is the
beginning of the fruiting cycle. Soon after that, within the
week, small round fungus growths appear that soon begin
to turn yellow.
Lastly, "primordia" start to grow. These are tiny worm
like structures with tiny reddish heads. These are the first
THE BIRTHDAY CAKE
This photo is of a 1/2 pint PF substrate jar about 23 days after
inoculation. The primordia have appeared and it is now time to birth
the cake. Wait until you see this, and the fruiting will be maximized.
The fruiting is fairly relative to the primordia that appear.
The best time to remove the fungus cake from the jar is
when the primordia (tiny worm like structures with reddish
heads) appear on the cake while still in the jar. Be careful
not to damage them in handling. The rule is to handle
Remove the lid. With a clean fork, scrape away the
majority of the dry top vermiculite layer. There will
probably be seen some wispy mycelium here and there in
the top layer. Place an old jar lid over the jar mouth and
turn the jar upside down. Lightly slam the jar down on a
table cushioned with a magazine. The fungus cake will
slide out onto the old jar cap (BIRTHDAY). The jar cap
functions as a base for the cake. When handling the
fungus cake, be careful as not to squeeze and bruise it.
Bruising results in a bluish mark. This fungus is resilient
and can tolerate a certain amount of handling, but handle it
as least as possible. The aroma is distinctly mushroomy,
As soon as the fungus cake comes out of the jar, daub the
cake with a piece of loose tissue paper to soak up any
water droplets that may have deposited on the cake as it
comes out of the jar. Immediately after the birthday, place
the cakes into the dual chambered terrarium for the
This is the cake a few days after the birthday. This is a healthy
fruiting start. Some of these primordia will abort, but most will go on
to full developement.
Some of the first mushrooms to form are "aborts"
(convoluted caps, gnarly stems and stunted growth), and
ironically they are primo in magic alkaloids. They are even
more powerful in magic than the stately beauties that will
soon dominate the cake. The tiny "baby mushroom"
aborts are likewise good. After witnessing the growth of
the fungus, recognition of these aborts is easy. As long
as the aborts are healthy and pure, they are primo. Also,
another form of mutants will manifest, blobs of fungus
with little or no cap, also good for harvesting. And along
with these mutants, appear the perfect specimens, the
It has been reported that Psilocybe cubensis is a "weak"
mushroom. PF and others have seen this to be not
necessarily so. It all depends on how it is grown, on what
medium and how it is harvested and preserved.
The secret to potent mushrooms is in their age when
picked. It has been scientifically proven that the small
immature specimens are significantly more potent than the
larger mature specimens. Over half of the small primordia
that first form will abort (cease growing, convolute and
deform). Pick these before their heads turn black. A
pointed knife blade works well for removing these high
potency primodia. These are among the most potent. The
abortive mushrooms are also high potency. Harvest them
when they are young and before their heads turn black.
When the fruitbodies are normal, harvest them before the
veil under the cap breaks. The mushrooms will be smaller
and their heads will be roundish. It is important to note
that the mushroom cakes pictured in this book are all
mostly well matured. While these mature specimens are
beautiful and perfect, they are not as potent as the
diminutive specimens. The mature specimens are good for
spore collecting and showcasing but are weak in
Grow them on brown rice, harvest them when they are
young and cool dry them with desiccant. When this is
done, they are an entheogen of the highest order.
TIME SCALE OF THE MUSHROOMS
1. Spore inoculation to spore germination - within a
week, at 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Spore germination to complete colonization of the cake
- about 2 to 3 weeks.
3. Colonization to fruiting cycle start - within 2 weeks.
The fruiting cycle lasts about 2 weeks. After the initial
flush, the mycelium cake begins to turn blue and no more
mushrooms form. This is because the water inside the cake has run out.
Using different methods you can replace the lost water in the cakes and
you can get several additional fruiting cylces (A.K.A flushes) out of
your cakes.An example of one of these methodsis the PF double ended
cake casing tek found in this manual.
All in all, the process takes from 4 - 6 weeks from spore
inoculation to fruiting.
CONTAMINANT SOURCE IDENTIFICATION
Contaminant invaders appear in various colors from pastels to black. If they appear,
the culture is doomed. Bacteria contamination is detectable through the top dry
vermiculite layer as a sour foul odor within two days after inoculation (and no
spore germination). If the jar is bacteria contaminated, be careful in cleaning
it. Keep a safe distance from the contaminated substrate. Don't inhale the bacteria
and wash after touching it. Bacteria can be dangerous.
Control jar technique
After the jars are steam sterilized, let them cool, tighten the lids and let them
sit uninoculated for several days. Watch for any colored growths or changes in
the appearance of the substrate. The tell tale rancid odor of bacteria can be
easily detected by loosening the jar lid and checking for the odor. If there is
contamination at this stage, the sterilization technique needs to be checked.
Most likely it will be a to short sterilization time. If there is a problem at
this stage, lengthen the sterilization time. If the jars remain clean and unchanged,
they are ready for spore syringe inoculation. If contamination occurs after inoculation,
the syringe was contaminated or the dry vermiculite layer was breached during
NON-GERMINATION OF SPORES
1. The spore solution was not inoculated deep enough down into the jar. Instead
of running down the side of the jar and inoculating the substrate cake, the solution
was absorbed by the non-nutritive top vermiculite layer. To avoid this from happening,
make sure that the spore solution flows down along the sides of the substrate
cake by inserting the syringe needle so that the tip is below the non-nutritive
upper vermiculite layer.
2. The substrate jars were not allowed to cool down after
sterilization, killing the spores. Inoculate only when the
jar feels cool to the touch.
3. There is evidence now that syringe boxes can be
exposed to killing heat during transit (a very rare
occurrence). The possibilities are such as over heated
airplane cargo holds during intense heat waves or a
superheated mail truck parked all day in the sun. Another
possibility is that on arriving at the mail box, the syringe
package was allowed to sit inside a broiling sun heated
mail box, killing the spores.
4. Spore syringes can survive freezing, but extreme low
temperatures are probably destructive to the spores.
THE DUAL CHAMBERED TERRARIUM
THE AIRTIGHT AQUARIUM LID (TOP)
(For a standard 10 gallon aquarium)
24" X 14 1/2" outside dimensions
21 1/4" x 12" inside dimensions (dimensions variable).
The frame can be made of flat (unwarped) 1/4" thick board or 4 wood strips connected
The wooden lid frames' inner rectangular cutout must be
LARGER than the top of the aquarium. Clear
polyethylene plastic film is tacked to the underside (or
upper side) of the frame so that the frame holds it tightly
onto the aquarium top. The frame essentially hangs by the
plastic film. A simpler alternative is to cover the aquarium
top with saran wrap or something similar. The most
important point to be stressed is that the aquarium must be
sealable with no air leaks, for humidity retention.
THE SPRAY SHIELD/CHAMBER PARTITION
(for a standard 10 gallon aquarium)
Use 1/8" thick clear acrylic (Plexiglas) window insulation available at most hardware
stores. Have it cut around 15" x 18" (dimensions may vary - check the aquarium
first). A loose fit is good as long as the cakes are protected from the direct
DUAL CHAMBERED TERRARIUM TECHNIQUES
The mushrooms get water from 2 sources; the substrate they grow on and the air
that surrounds them. The surrounding air must be highly humidified. The fungus
needs to bathe in a shroud of floating water molecules. 100% humidity is where
there is the maximum number of water molecules floating amongst the air atoms.
The dual chambered terrarium easily achieves these conditions.
It all starts with the spray from the hand sprayer. The first
rule is to never directly spray the fungus. This initial spray
is comprised of water droplets that are giant ponds of
water in relation to the fine mycelial networks of the
fungal threads. In culture, the droplet of water will drown
the micro world of the fungal structures and thereby inhibit
or contaminate growth. But the airborne molecularized
water floats into the fine structures and gives the fungus
humidity as needed. Molecularized water is another way
of describing water that has evaporated into the air.
The spray that comes out of the spray bottle must be
molecularized for the fungus. The spray shield and the
primary chamber accomplish this. The primary chamber
receives the initial spraying. As the spray strikes the
shield, it is broken down into a finer mist which flows
around the sides of the spray shield into the secondary
chamber where the fungus is bathed in the fine humidity
safely away from water droplets. In a matter of time, this
humidity will condense out onto surfaces inside the
terrarium and drip down. The spray shield is slanted and
therefore acts as a drip shield and roof, so the more
condensation the better.
First, before placing the cakes into the terrarium, spray all
the inside surfaces of the terrarium, including the spray
shield and lid. Insert the fungus cakes and put the spray
shield and lid in place. Then, slightly lift up the lid and
insert the nozzle of the water spray bottle in between the
lid and the top of the aquarium and vigorously spray
downwards into the middle of the shield. After about 5
seconds of spraying, immediately withdraw the sprayer
nozzle and let down the lid to seal the swirling mist inside
the terrarium. Come back after a few minutes and give it
another spraying if desired and a third if the terrarium is to
be left untended until the evening. To maintain a high
humidity try to spray 2 times a day, and the more
the better. Compensate for a lack of spraying during the
day by spraying several times in the evening. Make sure
that all the inside surfaces of the terrarium are foggy or
dripping with water. This in itself helps generate humidity.
It has been seen that mushrooms will grow in a
properly set up dual chambered terrarium, with only
one good spraying a day - and even less than that!
Each time the terrarium is sprayed, the fungus should be
ventilated. To ventilate, take off the lid, and while holding
the spray shield vertically, fan the chamber with a piece of
cardboard, and then spray as above. Also, the water that
collects in the bottom of the terrarium must be siphoned
out (prevents bacteria buildup). This can be easily done
using a rubber bulb battery filler (auto parts store) or a
rubber bulb type enema bottle.
Expose the terrarium to normal room light (indirect
sunlight). A small low wattage fluorescent plant light will
make the phototropic mushrooms grow upwards. Leave it
on all the time if desired.
The main rule is to not heat the dual chambered terrarium. Any direct heating
works against the humidification and adds a drying influence. Do not use heating
cables, heat pads or blankets. Don't shine light directly down into the terrarium.
Keep any plant grow light (low wattage only) a safe distance from the terrarium.
These fungi grow well at 60 degrees Fahrenheit. PF has even seen them growing
perfectly at temperatures cooler than 60 degrees. They grow slowly when they are
cool. When warm or at heated room temperature, they grow very fast. Strive for
a growing temperature between 65 and the upper 70's. A too hot terrarium will
result in lots of spreading mycelium, but no fruiting.
SYMPTOMS OF LOW HUMIDITY
When the humidity is a bit low, but not low enough to
stop fruiting, the mushrooms can have fuzzy white
mycelium growing on the tops of the caps. When this
occurs, the cap looks like it has a crown of white hair.
This is not contamination. This white fuzzy mycelium is
perfectly good and does not detract from the mushrooms
Deformed, convoluted, and withering mushrooms and
primordia are signs of low humidity. For the best growth,
the humidity has to be very high.
This is the terrarium that was used in the
perlite and terrarium tests. I found it
at a new and used resteraunt supply store
in Seattle for $25. This is a covered food display
It works great with perlite (and without) and holds
9 half pint cakes. The one above has
7 cakes. The cakes are post initial
flush and the fruitings are secondary
fruitings. The fruitbodies that
appear late are always superb in form.
If you can't find one of these in your
local town, you can order one
for around $75 (hence - the
"richmans'"). Call the manufacturer (Cal-Mil)
in California at 1 800 321 9069.
They will tell you where you can order
it (from one of their distributers near
Unfortunately, sometimes a distributer
will require a minimum of an order for two. But
fortunately, the terrarium they will send you for the
above price is bigger than the one pictured. It has
room for several more cakes, making for a goodly
capacity. All the shrooms pictured at this site
were grown in one of these.
The catalog numbers are:
314-15 -- the "connoisseur cover"
316-15 -- "Deep Tray" bottom half
The unit is 15 inches in diameter and about that
To use this terrarium, first spray the
insides. Place the cakes in. Hold the
cover above the tray and spray a fine
mist into the air about 2 feet above the
cakes in the tray and immediately lower
the cover down onto the tray - trapping
mist. Air and mist once a day. But
what is so cool about this, is that
neglect goes a long way! (set it
up and leave it).
Yeah, I know it costs, but it works
so nicely, and it makes a nice
coffee table display. If your landlord
comes by to inspect, he will see
it, look down and say, "hey, nice
shrooms, what kind are they"? Then
you say, "I got it from a science catalog company and it is a new miniature
fungi growing kit and the shrooms
are not edible - just wild". (or something
absurd like that). Then your landlord
will look approvingly around, notice the
neatness and tiddyness of your domecile,
and leave, little knowing that he just
observed the food of the gods.
The Ultra Richmans Terrarium
This terrarium was made by a plastics fabrication expert.
It isn't cheap (like a poor mans Whalmart plastic storage box) but if
you can find the right person - the cost is a bit more than the
richmans dome above. It is made out of acrylic clear plastic. It is one
piece, with a removable spray shield. At the top, is a spray hole with
a rubber stopper. It is designed to hold one fruiting cake to maturity,
but it can hold 4 cakes tightly. The cake inside is a first flush PF
spore race cake - typical of a first flush obtained with the pf tek.
The terrarium is open bottomed so it fits over the cakes that
sit on a tray. This is the most fool proof terrarium one can have. And
it can be made bigger - as big as a ten gallon aquarium or larger. The
plastics expert can make one just by looking at the photo and you
giving him the dimensions that you want or by giving him the tray that
you have to fit the terrarium to it. Very tricky - but it isn't hard to
find someone (a professional) who can do it if you live in any kind of
COOL DESICCATION (drying) OF MUSHROOMS
The immature specimens are the best in quality,
digestibility and potency. They are characterized as being
very light in color with white stems and light colored caps.
The cap will spread out after the veil breaks. Just before
or right after the veil breaks is a good time to harvest.
The gills on the underside of the cap will be light in color.
The mushrooms will be conical shaped and sporulation
hasn't really begun yet. These are the mushrooms that are
the best for harvesting.
1. The easiest way to dry the fungi is to place them on a
wire screen with air available to all sides. Never dry them
in an oven or use hot air dryers. The heat leaches the
chemical constituents and reduces their quality.
2. Using a frost free (dehumidifying) refrigerator works
but it is time consuming and then everyone doesn't have a
frost free fridge.
3. Using desiccant to cool dry mushrooms is overall, the
best drying technique.
MATERIALS NEEDED - Desiccant - Wire screen -
Plastic tub or container - Plastic bag with tie off.
1. "DRIERITE" desiccant. (chemical and science
supply retailers). It is the universal lab desiccant.
2. Silica Gel granules - desiccant. (Chemical and
3. "DAMP GONE" - (looks like kitty litter - for drying
closets and damp places in the home) - available at well
stocked hardware stores. This is inexpensive desiccant but
works as well as any.
Note: These products might have toxicity warnings -
(don't breathe the dust and try not to touch it directly - it
dries skin.). Follow those rules, but know that desiccant
in an airtight box and under a screen will do nothing to the
fungi except dry them. It is completely safe for this use.
What desiccant does, is absorb moisture out of the air. As
the fungus transpires moisture, the moisture is immediately
absorbed back into the desiccant, drying the fungi.
Desiccant can be reused and lasts indefinitely. After use,
the desiccant is heated, dried and stored for future use.
Store it in an air tight container so that it stays dry and
ready for use. Heat the desiccant in an oven as instructed
by the manufacturer. This preheating should be done
before the desiccant is used because when it is purchased -
it is usually somewhat damp which will thwart its function
for drying air.
In drying a medium sized mushroom such as Psilocybe
cubensis, use a 1 inch layer of desiccant on the bottom of
the container, under the mushrooms. Place the
mushrooms on a wire screen and lay them on the desiccant
that is in the container. Put the container with the
shrooms and desiccant into a plastic bag. A garbage bag
type wire tie is sufficient to close the bag. If a clear plastic
bag can be found, use that to observe the drying process.
After 24 hours, a little shriveling of the shrooms can be
seen. About 4 or 5 days later, the shrooms will be dried
rock hard. To check the drying - the stem should snap
cleanly when bent.
For the best alkaloid preservation technique, the desiccant
box can be put into the refrigerator and the mushrooms
dried at near freezing temperatures.
Pre drying the mushrooms in the air on a wire screen
works very well if the the room humidity is not high.
After a couple of days, the shriveling fungus can be
quickly and completely dried in the desiccant box.
||Mushrooms dried in this way lose hardly any chemical constituents and
their truly desiccated state preserves them in their prime for months. Store
them by sealing them in plastic bags or keep them in canning jars with the
rubber edged canning lid on tight (as in the photo - dried shrooms in little
bags stored on top of desiccant). The freezer is a good place for preservation,
but make sure the fungi are tightly sealed in their containers to protect
them against the moisture in the freezer.
SPORE PRINTING AND SPORE SYRINGE
The mature specimens are good for spore production, but
are not as good for consumption (weaker potency). They
are characterized as becoming darker, with dark bluish
colors appearing on the caps and stems. The cap upturns
and reveals gills darkening a deep brown color. The
mushroom will look like an umbrella that has turned up
edges. On the stem can be seen the purple deposits of the
dropping spores. Mature adult mushrooms release spores
by the millions. In the area around the mushrooms can be
seen a deepening color of purple. As the spores fall and
collect they will color deep purple. This is the signal that
the mushroom has matured and is now in its sporulation
cycle. This is the time to take their spores.
SPORE PRINTING EQUIPMENT
KERR 1/2 PINT WIDE MOUTH (LOW FORM)
CANNING JAR. (ANY SUITABLE JAR IS OK)
FINGER NAIL CUTICLE SCISSORS - (cosmetics - drug
ALCOHOL, TEQUILA SHOT GLASS AND EYE
1. Presterilize the jar and regular metal lid (rubber edge
up) in a small toaster oven at around 300 degrees
Fahrenheit for around a half hour. Keep the lid loose
during the sterilization cycle. When the jar has cooled
down, tighten the lid until it is time to use the jar for a
spore print. The rubberized edge will be a bit melted, but
that won't be any problem in this technique.
Note: What follows is a sterile technique. The first rule
that must be always followed is to wash hands prior to
sterile work. Hands are a prime source for bacteria and
microspore contaminants. Sterilize all the work surfaces
with rubbing alcohol. Minimize drafts. Try for a still air
environment. Don't breathe on the work. Run a small
home appliance style HEPA air cleaner (99.97% rated
efficiency - available at drug and department stores) for a
few hours in a closed room to clean the air before doing
2. Flame sterilize the scissors with an alcohol flame and
snip off the mushroom cap. Cut the top of the stem as far
up into the cap as possible so that the gills of the
mushroom will sit flat on the surface of the jar bottom.
With quick and sure movements, place the cap into the jar
and place the lid on loosely. Pierce the top of the cap with
a straight pin to pick it up and handle it.
3. Leave the jar with a loose cap for a couple of days in a
draft free area away from direct sunlight. After the print is
taken, quickly and with as little air disturbance as possible,
remove the jar cap and extract the mushroom cap from the
jar. With a loose jar cap, let the jar sit in a draft free place
to dehumidify for a few days before sealing it up (with
tape) because there will be some residual moisture left
behind on the spores and glass. Store the spore print jar at
room temperatures in a dark place away from sunlight.
Don't store it in a refrigerator.
Psilocybe cubensis spores begin to degrade a few months
after they are taken. After approximately 1 1/2 years,
spore germination will be greatly reduced or won't occur
at all. Germination is massive and quick when the spores
MAKING A SPORE SYRINGE
1. Spore print in jar.
2. Sterile syringe with water for injecting water into the
spore print jar.
3. Sterile syringe for loading spore solution out of the jar.
4. A small Pyrex glass stirring rod (science - lab supply).
5. Alcohol, tequila shot glass and eye dropper.
6. Lid with two holes. Prepare this lid by drilling a hole in
the center of the lid to fit the Pyrex glass stirring rod.
Punch the second hole near the edge of the lid (rubberized
edge up) to fit a syringe needle.
Boil a pot of water. Draw boiling water into a syringe and
squirt it out several times. Refill the syringe with boiling
water, replace the needle quard and wrap the syringe in tin
foil. Prepare several syringes like this. Drop the syringes
into the boiling water and boil them for one hour. Let
them cool before using.
The main point of this technique would be to expose the
interior of the jar to as little room air as possible. Always
protect the holes in the lid by placing tin foil or sterile
surgical tape over the holes before and after this
1. Inject sterile water into the spore print jar through the
2. Flame sterilize the glass stirring rod and let it cool a
minute. Insert it through the center lid hole and with the
rod end, scrape spores into the water.
3. Insert the sterile syringe needle through the small hole
at the edge of the lid. Tilt the jar until the water comes up
to the needle tip and draw the spore water into the sterile
Store the syringe at cool temperatures in the dark. A
properly prepared spore syringe will be good for several
months and even up to a year or more.
PF DOUBLE ENDED CAKE CASING TEK
The photo on the left is a second flush off of a PF spore
race cake. The first flush was an automatic flush - sans
casing - initiated by invitro primordiation. The cake on the
right is a third flush.
First: In Vitro Primordiation
There are many ways to extend
the life of a cake and get more shrooms.
The essential pf tek is to always allow primordia to
appear on the cake in vitro.
But not only that, wait
for more. So when you
spot the first primordia, wait
around 3 to 4 more days before birthing.
This stimulates more of them, and
then your first flush will be fat. This invitro
primodiation works well with only the PF spore
race. All of the others that I have seen, need to
be birthed after about a month invitro, and then given
the casing treatment.
Second: The Casing
After the first flush is
done, clean the cake of all aborted
primordia and fungi nubs (a sharp knife
blade will work).
fill a jar cap with vermiculite,
soak it and drain it. Place the
now cleaned post first flush cake
upside down on top of the wet
vermiculite (top left photo).
Carefully wet the now top vermiculite
layer (a thin layer that adheres to
the cake) that used to be on the bottom.
When the cake is first birthed, most of
this top layer is scraped away, but there
will be a thin layer that adheres to the
fungi. This becomes the top casing layer.
Another thing you can try is to soak and
drain some vermiculite and with a spoon,
smear it on the top over the thinner top
vermiculite layer to get a thicker top
layer which can add even more water to
the cake. That is what this is, a rehydration
of the cake. It is the new water that stimulates
Also, from the bottom they will reappear
growing from the wet vermiculite (as in the
top right photo - 3rd flush).
It is sort of a double casing technique
(cased on top and bottom).
You can get decent bumper crops this way.
Spraying and maintenance
Once you set the cake upside down, spray the
now top casing layer a few times. You can soak it,
but be careful to not overdo it. Do this once or
twice a day, when you air the cakes and mist them.
This will feed the cakes water - gradually. The
cakes will turn white again. As soon as you spot
primordia appearing in the casing layer, cease
spraying the casing directly and let the primordia
go for it. This is why it is probably important
to not use a thick upper casing layer. As soon
as the primordia start appearing, spraying them can
rot them. When you spot the new primordia - employ
the neglect tek.
The cake whitening phenomenon
One of the most interesting effects of this tek, is
the revitalization of the cake. After the initial
fruiting, if it is really fat, the cake will be a bit
blued. One of the signs of old age in PF cakes is the
blueing that will occur. Most likely, the cause of
this overall blueing of the cake is moisture loss and
thirst of the cake. When the PF double ended cake casing
tek is employed, the cake will gradually turn white again.
After about a week under the casing tek, the cake will be
completely white again and on its way to a good second
CASING AND RECASING
This casing tek seems to work better if you completely
clean the cake after the first casing flush and recase with fresh
vermiculite. After the flush occurs, the top and bottom
vermiculite layers should be scraped off and replaced. A good
way to do it is like peeling an apple. Hold the cake
in your hand without squeezing, and with a knife,
scrap the old vermiculite off the cake. Try to clean down
to the surface of the cake. The scraping doesn't hurt the cake
at all because these older cakes become "tougher".
The mycelium tends to be "tighter"
and less fluffy and the cake becomes contamination resistant.
This "toughening up" and recasing
of the mycelial cake is also reported in
the old OSS and OERIC (McKenna brothers)
mushroom cultivation book published in 1976.
After the cake is carefully cleaned (rather a painstaking
procedure but not difficult), the cake is placed
on a freshly soaked and drained bottom layer of vermiculite
(on a plate or
in a jar cap). Then, fresh dry vermiculite is poured over
the top of the cake and smoothed down to a
layer of 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch. A thin layer is
the best way to go because the shrooms can easily fruit out
of it without making their way through a thick layer.
The spray bottle offers a good way to drip water onto the casing.
By slowly squeezing
the spray lever, the water will drip out in single drops.
You can also use an eye dropper. Slowly wet the top layer.
If you apply to much water and it over soaks the vermiculite,
the cake can be tilted and excess water drained
from the top vermiculite layer.
After every flush - reclean the cake and apply fresh vermiculite.
What this does is prevent contaminants from building up. The
cakes stay uncontaminated and fruitable for a good two to three
months. You can get several flushes out of a properly cared for