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The PF tek (updated 2017)

The ins and out!

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 insure a never ending succession of fungus, with all the power of the spores reproductive ability intact.

To do the PF TEK you will need spores

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This is the video series you should watch and follow to achieve success with the PF tek.

Alright, now you're informed from watching Let's grow mushrooms. You can find this for free in other places. But give a few dollars to the guy that made them if you can spare.

The PF tek in text.

Get some jars.
You can use anything that's about 1/2 pint and is as wide as it is tall. There's 3 different Ball/Kerr jars that are 1/2 pint size. The wide-mouth is the ones you want to get. Regular mouth is tall and skinny and can lead to the mycellium stalling out. You can have success using these jars, so if you have them try them, but buy the right kind if you haven't already pulled the trigger. If you can find a recycling code 5 AKA PP plastic Tupperware you can rig that into a PF jar too.  Glad "mini rounds" are a cheap and readily available option. 

Ziran's Updated PF TEK guide
an amazing text version of the PF TEK

Evilmushroom666's take on PF cakes.
very good supplemental instruction.


This stuff is not perlite*
Found at most garden stores and some hardware stores, this mineral is a backbone of the PF mix supplying water and giving a texture that is easy for the mycelium to grow through

Vermiculite is food for fungi, it's not just a source of trace minerals.

"Every noob who has ever grown brf cakes through a few flushes has watched them shrink by 50% or more.  Since they're 2/3 vermiculite, exactly what do you think is being consumed if it's not the minerals?

If as you(wrongly) assume that fungi isn't digesting rock, exactly why do growers report increased benefits such as vigor and harvest weight from using vermiculite, calcium carbonate, and gypsum?

Anything but distilled for cakes. Distilled is great for making spore syringes, filling up humidifiers, and lead acid batteries only.

you can grind your own brown rice or find it at a organic food store most likely. Brown rice still has the bran layer which is what we want. You can also use rice bran but it's usually expensive and hard to find as it does not have a long shelf life.

PF tek can be done without a pressure cooker(PC) in a steam bath for 90 minutes. Make sure the lid of your pot fits nicely, and the jars are protected from the bottom of the pan using a trivet of some sorts.
*sterilization is not sanitation more info located under respective sections*
A pressure cooker can be set for 60m at 15PSI when doing PF tek.

place foil over your jar lids and after the sterilization cycle is over and the jars have cooled down inside the pot take them out and remove the foil, it's best to do this in a still air box or in front of a FH

Don't speed up the cooling down process,
Take the foil off of the jars after they cool(preferably in a SAB or in front of FH)

Flame sterilize the needle and don't wipe it with alcohol, if you wish you may wipe the needle BEFORE flame sterilizing

Alcohol sanitizes flame sterilizes. Don't move backwards

Use 0.25CC(aka mL) per hole or less
Make sure to get the needle against the glass and below the verm barrier.

First sign of growth can take up to two weeks!

Dunk and Roll
Don't skip this.

after your cakes get to 100% colonization let them sit another week, this is the consolidation period. Cakes are highly nutritious and this is the only time you will want to have a consolidation period. After a week or until you see pins forming in the jar then birth your jar. wipe off the dry verm barrier under running water. Dunk your cakes underwater for 12-24 hours then place them on a small piece of foil in your SGFC.

Let the verm stick to your cakes for a few hours before the initial misting or you will spray the verm off.

Fruiting Chamber
A SGFC(shot gun fruiting chamber) has 1/4" holes spaces 2 inches apart in a grid pattern on all six sides. 4-6 inches of moist perlite. No attachments made to it with any extra things like humidifiers. Optimally the SGFC should be in the middle of a room. No fans should be run in the room with the SGFC, but a cracked window is OK. A humidifier in your house can help to raise the ambient RH but don't put it near your SGFC put it in the other corner of the room if you do decide to run a humidifier at all. The SGFC IMO should have at least 6-12 inches of room from any wall on all 6 sides. This includes finding some sort of raisers to elevate the SGFC off of the surface it's on.

Misting and Fanning
In general you'll mist your cakes until they glisten(yes they can even with the verm on them) and then fan right after the mist. You can mist your cakes directly and you should. Also get some mist on the perlite to keep it hydrated. When you notice the cake is no longer glistening you can mist it again and then fan. This occurs on average of 1-3 times a day. Don't worry about sleeping or being gone 12 hours. Just do it when you're around and don't forget about it is all. If you can brush your teeth and shit at home you have time for the ultra low maintenance SGFC.

Fanning is not FAE it's only purpose is to relive the high RH air so that the cakes can get a kickstart on evaporation.
Fanning is not necessary

Basic principals of the SGFC

This is a phenomenon (Fresh air exchange) in a properly built SGFC this is constantly happening constantly due to passive design. The perlite is naturally cooler than the surrounding air this moves molecules closer to each other as the lose kinetic energy. This creates low pressure which pulls air up through the bottom holes. As the air moves through the perlite it picks up humidity and keeps the chamber at or above 50-80%RH. This occurs naturally without the fanning and is why we like to have no fans in the room and is also why fanning after misting is not a replacement for FAE. FAE is having your PPM of CO2 below ~600-1000

Fanning is not a replacement for constant FAE.
You would need to fan several times per hour

"The physics of the shotgun terrarium are that evaporation causes a temperature drop, thus the air molecules are closer together.  This results in higher pressure within the air spaces around the perlite.

The substrates and/or lights provide slight heating within the body of the terrarium.  This results in relatively lower pressure.  This low pressure area above the perlite(high pressure) results in airflow to balance the pressure.  This in turn leads to more evaporation from the perlite, continuing the process.  This is why a shotgun terrarium handles FAE automatically.

The CO2 does not settle to the bottom.  In addition, the CO2 from mushrooms is mixed thoroughly into the O2, thus it travels out through the holes in the sides and top as part of the natural circulation.  It doesn't enter the denser air within the perlite and spill out the bottom.

RogerRabbit said:
someone said:
fewer, you dont want alot of humidity to escape. only enough on the BOTTOM to get rid of CO2

Bad advice.  Fresh air exchange causes a loss of moisture from the cakes or other substrate, and this loss of moisture is the number ONE pinning trigger.  Noobs worry too much about humidity, which is easily corrected with misting.  You MUST mist to make up for the lost moisture.  In the old days, people would toss cakes in a sealed up chamber and hope for a couple of mushrooms before green mold set in.  Today, you can easily get three or four times the harvest the early growers did by using a proper terrarium that provides both fresh air and high humidity.

Furthermore, why you guys think CO2 is heavy like water and will drain out holes in the bottom baffles the mind.  If all the CO2 settled to the bottom, we'd all be dead due to the power plants and cars, cows, etc., that are puking out tons of CO2 by the minute.  The CO2 MIXES with the air and thus must be exchanged WITH the air.  It isn't a sweet little layer on the bottom of your fruiting chambers.

As for only reading 80% humidity in a shotgun terrarium with a humidifier running in the closet, it proves your hygrometer is screwed.  I can put a shotgun terrarium in an open room with the lid totally off and get higher humidity than that.

I seriously doubt anyone has lower humidity than I do.  It's below zero outside and I use a large cast iron wood stove to heat my cabin.  My properly made shotgun terrariums all read 95% or greater.  I keep a cool mist humidifier running near the wood stove, and it's nice and cozy in here, even though there's nearly five feet of snow on the ground outside.

Co2's concentration in "air" is higher at sea level but it's still mixed evenly with the air. Yes gravity does work but it doesn't pull co2 out of the air to make it it's own distinct layer.

You can't see RH, a SGFC should have no condensation on the walls, Condensation is caused by temperature differentials, if you have condensation you need to fix something.

Don't get too worried and caught up trying to measure the RH in your SGFC anyway. You do not need a gauge or to measure humidity at all. It's often counter productive for the new grower.

"When I put a RH gauge in my SGFC it doesn't read more than 90% all the time, and that's good A-OK just fine, don't worry about it don't measure it, your cakes are going to have a perfect micro-climate if you did the dunk and roll you'll have 99% surface humidity and that's all that matters, FAE is way more important and the RH inside the chamber is just fine for the fruit bodies themselves, if you have low humidity in your home just mist the perlite a bit more often to keep it hydrated it will work just fine and properly if you build it right and follow the damn directions to the T and not try to make your own uneducated guesses as to what improvements you can make. If you must then use the humidifier on the other side of the room or as far away from the SGFC as you can manage."

No1 triggers are. full colonization of the substrate and then slow evaporation of moisture off of the substrate. This happens with the interplay between high RH and FAE.

Light doesn't cause side pins in containers. You don't need black tape or black liners. You can use a clear liner as long as it will shrink with your substrate eliminating the space between the substrate and the tub where side pins love to form because of the high humidity microclimate.


As for pinning, full colonization of the substrate is the most important pinning trigger. If there are contaminants present in a substrate, the mushroom mycelium generally stops growing when it contacts them. This represents full colonization because the mycelium has hit a natural barrier, and often pins begin to develop, whether light is present or not.

The second most important pinning trigger is an increase in air exchange, with the corresponding drop in CO2 levels that occurs simultaneously. When you uncover a tray to look at it, you allow the CO2 to escape and be replaced by fresh air. THIS is a pinning trigger, even if you do it in the dark.

Third, which goes along with second, is a steady rate of evaporation of moisture from the substrate or casing layer. In the artifical environment of a small tray, we must mist to keep the substrate or casing from drying out, but we also must allow that moisture to evaporate off between mistings.

Fourth, when the above three triggers are active, light becomes a pinning/growth initiation factor.

Plugging up the holes on your SGFC will LOWER the humidity and give you LESS FAE which means more stale air more bacterial buildup and uglier shrooms.

You can dunk your cakes with pins on them

FAE is not a specific number of FAEs per hour. FAE is keeping your CO2 levels below ~600-1000PPM. Obviously in a huge room with only one small cake you would not need even 1 FAE an hour, In a two liter soda bottle with one cake you would need several FAE per hour to keep your CO2 levels in check.

PocketRevolution said
There are two great terrarium designs that the majority of users on this site use.  Monotubs and Shotgun terrariums.  Both these designs have the advantages of having no moving parts, having no need for electricity ( water=danger), and working really well.

I spent a few hundred dollars building a Poor Man's Pod to spec. (PMP is a design similar to what you're describing but using LECA as an evaporative medium).  It did work.  It was also really heavy, and sometimes the water turned a bit skunky, and the bubble wands clogged with red sand.  Eventually it sprung a leak and leaked all over my floor.  Luckily I had kept my power bar off the ground.  Since my tub already had one hole in it I figured drilling more was the way to go, and I converted it into a shotgun terrarium , and I never looked back.

cakes can be fruited in a monotub, just pack it full of cakes

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