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Using poo 101

A document describing the task of obtaining and processing dung.

1. Sourcing the poo:

poo comes from animals´ bottoms. recommended poo types for mush cultivation are cowpoop and horsepoop, though a few other types get mentioned, like deer, rabbit and elephant. it´s gotta be an animal with just the right kind of digestive system, to tickle spores awake but not too much death-inducing acids in it´s stomach. basically, a vegetarian animal. veggie human poop is no good though, so please don´t try for your self-respect´s sake!

so where do you get it? well, if you´re in the countryside, this should be no problem - the great outdoors is an enormous toilet! riding stables, farmyards, use your imagination. get dried out poo in the warmer months and stock up for the wet season. old half-dried turds are best (see below).

in town, there´s always parks (sometimes your local cops might have horses...ask them for some for your flowers) or you have to try some shop-bought stuff in a nursery or garden center. test a small amount out to see if it will work for you...and make sure it doesn´t have fungicide listed on the bag. remember, it´s horse and cow manure you want, and some brands will work better than others.

feeling courageous? you could try shirley knott´s policehorse-poo tek 1. follow police horses around the public park. have plastic bags in a pocket - several small and flexible bags (like those for veggies at the supermarket, or even better the plastic gloves free at petrol pumps) and one opaque and heavy duty bag; 2. when horses shit, hang around five minutes (to avoid appearing odd) then use a small bag to pick up poo and place in the big bag; 3. repeat until big bag heavy; 4. poo is great for growing roses and vegetables

You want the poo free of ammonia, and ideally completely dried out. aged is easier, as nothing needs doing to it - leaching out ammonia is unnecessary, and it´s easy to pick up! don´t stress too much about it - if you just take off across the pasture picking up whatever you come upon until your bag is full, you´re okay. mushrooms can grow on some fresh poo magnificently! but if you can get the older stuff, it has another advantage - the older stuff is also often full of a friendly white bacteria: you know how aged dung starts to turn white? that is not just the dung you are seeing: very fresh dung dries brown/green. the white is the bacteria you´re wanting, and where the poo is white, it is strongly established. it´s called firefang (actinomyces).
2. leaching and drying the poo (if fresh)

if it´s fresh poo, it needs to be leached and can also be dried. pick off any rocks and foreign matter whether fresh or dry: leaching is just soaking out the ammonia from animal urine - some farm animals have worse manners than rugby fans, and will piss and shit down their legs with gay abandon. You don´t need to bother with old poo, as it´ll have probably been leached by the rain. Soak the poo in water for about 24 hours and then drain it good.

some dry it out on a tarp in the sun/air, and some even use a box with a fan. don´t use an oven - think of the people who share the oven! it´s a good idea to break the poo up as it dries. To speed up the drying, you could break it up into small pieces at least the size of a golf ball, and break a few open every now and then to check to see what the moisture level inside the poo is like.

when the poo is dry, whether it was born a day or a year ago, you can store it, or use it rightaway! wanna skip the drying stage? okay, that´ll work

3. preparing the poo for spawning

mix the leached poo (dry or wet!) into your desired recipe, and pasteurize it. you could add some vermiculite to cow shit, if it´s too runny! there´s plenty in the faq already about pasteurizing, which is basically heating it to hot (but not boiling) for 90 minutes or so. this is where straw comes in!

cow poo probably needs to be mixed with straw, a great additive to a horse/cow manure mix, to bulk it up & give the substrate more aeration & paths for myc to colonize along. you don´t have to add any straw to the horse poo, but most growers do use a straw: poo mixture, anywhere along the spectrum 99% straw to 99% poo. shirley recommends 90% straw. you can pasteurize the poo together with the straw if you like

after pasteurising, drain it, squeeze and drain it some more, fluff it up, and mix it with your spawn. some compression might be a good idea for this stage. let it all colonise, just as if you just mixed spore solution into the substrate in your jars. when it´s all white, you´re almost there

by shirley knott

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