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Eric's Guide To Cultivating Psilocybe Azurescens/Cyanescens

An MMGG-type document with instructions for growing psilocybe azurescens and/or cyanescens.This guide is here mainly for historical reasons. Many have tried it, but I didn´t hear of one person that succeeded using that guide.



Version 1.1a

Psilocybe cubensis are the most commonly cultivated "magic" mushroom. They're very easy to grow, tolerant of faults, and the spores are readily available. However, many people express frustration that there aren't instructions out there for growing other kinds of magic mushrooms. They point out that cubensis mushrooms are not nearly as potent as some mushrooms out there, and they taste terrible. They notice that due to the chemical composition of psilocybe cubensis mushrooms, the character of cubensis trips is often different (and inferior) to the experience you get with other kinds of mushrooms. So here's a guide written to help those folks out. It contains instructions for cultivating Psilocybe azurescens and Psilocybe Cyanescens mushrooms, two of the most potent mushrooms which are often favored by "veteran" trippers who've tried several different kinds. I hope you find this guide helpful!

Does this document look familiar? It should. I took several of the sections straight from the Magic Mushroom Growers Guide. I am not trying to take credit for anyone else's hard work. The reason I did this is that the MMGG already eloquently and concisely explains several procedures common to both cubensis and azurescens/Cyanescens cultivation. Writing new explanations for these procedures would be a waste of time, plus paraphrasing something which is already well-written gives me flashbacks of writing reports from the encyclopedia in grade school. So please understand that some of this writing is mine, but much of it I am only borrowing.

I would like to thank, in no particular order:

EricFor the idea.
MagicFor bringing the potentially dangerous Lysol/open flame combination to my attention.
The MMGG AuthorFor saving me oodles of time.

This document may be freely copied and distributed so long as the following conditions are met:

  • Any copies of this document must include this notice.
  • This document must only be distributed in an unaltered and complete form.
  • This document can not be distributed for profit.
In order to grow mushrooms, a suitable substrate must be inoculated and colonized by the fungus. This step requires sterility because the substrate contains no preservatives and can be overrun by any mold or bacteria that is present. This first step takes place in canning jars prepared in your home's kitchen. It uses hardwood sawdust and rice or wheat bran which are both readily available. A substrate is prepared, placed in the canning jars and sterilized with heat. After the jars cool, they are inoculated with a spore syringe. This phase of the cycle can be completed for less than $40.

After the substrate is inoculated, you wait until it is colonized completely by the fungus. Once the substrate is colonized completely by the fungus, you grind it into small pieces in a food processor and use these pieces to start mycelium growth on a pieces of wet corrugated cardboard. While waiting for this colonization to occur, no effort is required.

After the cardboard is colonized completely it is covered with maple or alder woodchips and the mycelium are allowed to colonize these as well. Once the wood chips are fully colonized, the temperature is dropped to induce fruiting.Materials needed:

  • 1/2 pint canning jars
  • Hardwood Sawdust
  • Organic Rice or Wheat Bran (from a health food store - No Preservatives!)
  • Vermiculite
  • Large pot with lid or pressure cooker
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing bowl
  • Hammer and small nail
  • Deep plastic tray such as one you'd find in a photography store for developing prints
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Maple or Alder Woodchips
  • Lysol
  • Spore Syringe (Where to get a spore syringe)

The canning jars need to be tapered. This means that the opening of the jar is wider than the body of the jar. This is important because the fully colonized rice cake needs to be removed intact from the jar. You simply want the cake to slide out when the time is right. If you use a jar that is not in the following list, check to make sure the box says it is a tapered jar. The following jars are acceptable:

  • Ball 1/2 pint jelly jars.
  • Kerr wide mouth 1/2 pint canning jars.
  • Ball regular mouth 1/2 pint canning jars.


Step 1:
Prepare the tops of the culture jars so that they can be in place, on the jars when inoculating the jars with the spore syringe. Part of the reason this system works so well in the non-sterile kitchen environment is the fact that the sterilized substrate is never exposed to air born contaminates. Get a small nail and use the hammer to poke 4 holes in the lid of each canning jar. See the following figure:

Picture of Culture Jar


Step 2:
Decide in how many jars you are going to initiate cultures. Unlike with psilocybe cubensis cultivation, the number of jars you prepare does not dictate how many mushrooms you end up with; only how long it takes to get them. Never the less, the procedure is cheap and easy enough that you might as well prepare as many jars as you have (up to 12) just in case you need extras due to contamination or other unforeseen circumstances.

For each 1/2 pint jar you will need 3/4 cups hardwood sawdust. Put the sawdust in a large mixing bowl and fill the bowl with water. Let it sit for 24 hours so the sawdust absorbs as much water as it can. Then drain out the water and mix in the bran; 1/4 cup for each jar. Mix all of this stuff up well. You'll know you've got it right if you squeeze a handful of the substrate and you get a few drops of water between your fingers. This mixture is the substrate which you will use to grow mycelium.


Step 3:
The next step is to fill each jar with substrate material. Fill each jar to within 1/2 inch of the top with substrate material. Do not pack the material; simply allow it to fall into the jars. If you run out of substrate material, either mix up enough for one more 1/2 pint jar or cannibalize a jar to fill up the rest of the jars. This is important because you need to make sure the substrate is high enough in the jars for the spore syringe to inject spores into it.


Step 4:
The top 1/2 inch of the glass on each culture jar needs to be cleaned. No substrate material can be left on the glass above the compressed cake. First wipe it with your finger to get the bulk of the material off of it and then do a thorough job with a moistened paper towel. The glass needs to be spotless. The reason this is necessary is that bacteria and mold can use any material left there as a wick to infect the main substrate body.


Step 5:
Next, fill the top 1/2 inch of the each culture jar with vermiculite. This layer is pure, simple, dry vermiculite. Nothing else. Fill the jar level with the glass edge. What this layer does is insulate the sterilized substrate from any air borne contamination. This layer gets sterilized with the substrate later and air borne molds and bacteria can not (usually) get through it to contaminate the substrate. At the same time, it allows some gas exchange to occur. The fungus needs oxygen and gasses can filter through the vermiculite.


Step 6:
Now, place the jar lids in place. Normally, the jar lids have a rubber seal that is placed in contact with the glass of the jar. Do not place the rubber seal in contact with the glass; instead place it on the upper side of the lid. The allows more gas exchange to occur. Screw the lid down tight. Note that you need to have the four holes poked in the lid in Step 1. Otherwise you can have real problems when you heat these jars up!


Step 7:
Next, place a piece of tin foil over the top of each jar and crumple it around the sides of the jar. This is to keep water drops from going in the four holes in the lid while the jar is being sterilized. If you poked your holes in the lid such that the sharp edges are pointing up, be careful not to rip or puncture the tin foil. If you need to, you can add a second or even a third piece of tin foil to make sure water will not drip into the holes in the lid.


Step 8:
Now the culture jars need to be sterilized. You can do this either in a large kitchen pot filled with water or in a pressure cooker. If you're planning on using a pressure cooker, put the jars in for 1 1/2 hours at 15psi. If you're using a kitchen pot, follow these instructions:

Place the jars in a large kitchen pot and add water so that water comes half way up the side of the jars. Bring the water to a slow boil and place the lid on the pot. From the time the water starts to boil, the jars need 3 hours to be sterilized. Water should not be bubbling and splashing all over the place. The jars should not be floating around in the water. The substrate in the culture jars has the right amount of water in it already. You do not want water leaking into the jars and changing the ratio. The jars should not sit flat on the bottom of the pan. Too much heat can transfer directly to the jars and cause a loss of moisture. You can place a wash cloth inside the pan and set the jars directly on the wash cloth to help prevent too much heat from transferring to the jars.


Step 9:
Let the jars cool slowly. Leave them covered in the pan that was used to sterilize them. Let them cool completely. The jars need to be at or close to room temperature in order to inoculate. The spores will be killed if the jars are not cool enough when they are inoculated. It will take several hours to cool sufficiently; it's best to leave them overnight. You may hear sounds as the jars cool. This is normal.


Step 10:
Now comes the good part. Inoculation of the culture jars. Assuming you have a viable, sterile spore syringe, you are now in a position to inoculate the cultures and start the first phase of the growing cycle. The needle of the spore syringe must be sterile. If your fingers or anything other than the lid or contents of the culture jars comes in contact with it, assume it is no longer sterile. If there is any doubt about its condition, use a cigarette lighter to heat the entire needle. Heat it until it glows red. Let it cool for a few minutes and squirt some of the solution out of the syringe.

Shake the syringe. Make sure the spores are mixed well within the syringe. This can be accomplished more easily if you pull the plunger back on the syringe to get a little air into the syringe.

Remove the tin foil from each culture jar as you prepare to inoculate it. Insert the needle of the syringe as far as it will go into a hole in the lid of the culture jar and get the needle to press against the glass. Examine the next figure for a simple diagram of how things should look. The amount of solution you'll want to inject depends on the number of jars you have to inoculate. If you have 5 jars then you'll want to use 1/2 cc solution for each hole (1/2 cc x 4 holes x 5 jars = 10 cc), etc.

Inoculation


Step 11:
This is the easy part. Put the culture jars in a dark place and wait. The fungus will first appear as little splotches of white fuzzy stuff at the inoculation sites.


Picture of Culture Jar 5 days after inoculation Picture of Culture Jar 10 days after inoculation Picture of Culture Jar 20 days after inoculation

As the time goes by, the fungus will spread throughout the jar. Eventually, the entire surface of the glass will be covered with fungus. Typically, the bottom of the jar is the last area to be colonized. Be on the look out for any contamination.

Any odd colors that might appear are contamination and the jar must be thrown out. Do not take any chances. If you think the jar might be contaminated, throw it out!. Some molds and bacteria produce toxins that can kill you. Just because a mushroom is growing on the opposite side of the cake from the contamination does not mean you are safe. The mycelium network carries nutrients and moisture to the mushrooms from far away and can easily pick up the toxins and bring them to the mushroom. The fact that you are using this guide means you are not an experienced mycologist. You do not know which molds and bacteria are deadly. Do not take a chance.

The one exception to the previous statements is the mycelium will some times change from a bright white to a very pale yellow if it has water droplets touching it on the side of the glass. It is very unusual for any area that is colonized by the mushroom fungus to become infected while in the jar. The uncolonized areas of the substrate are usually significantly more prone to infection.

The above pictures show a typical germination and colonization cycle. If your spores are old, or the temperature is not optimum, or you did not mix the substrate very accurately you can easily add a week to the above time frames.

The cake must stay in the jar until at least 2 weeks after the entire surface area is covered with mycelium. This is because you want to make sure the mycelium have penetrated fairly deeply into the substrate. As the substrate gets more colonized, the growth slows down. This is a result of CO2 building up and less oxygen being available for the fungus to consume.


Step 12:
2 weeks after your substrate cake(s) are fully colonized, you must start to prepare the spawning bed. This consists of a piece of wet corrugated cardboard which will be fully colonized by the fungus. You will need a fairly deep plastic tray, such as the ones you find at a photography store for developing prints. Cut the cardboard so that there is about 1" of space on each side when you put it in the tray. Place the cardboard in the tray and fill the tray with water. You need to let this sit overnight so that the cardboard will absorb as much water as it can.


Step 13:
After the cardboard is sufficiently soaked, you can remove the cakes from the canning jars. Unscrew and remove the lid from the canning jars. Scrape all the loose vermiculite on the top of the substrate into the garbage. Turn the jar up side down and bang it onto a table top. The substrate cake should slide out of the jar. The cakes will typically shrink a little during the colonization phase of the process and will come out of the jars easily with a little tapping on a table top.


Step 14:
Now you have to chop the substrate cakes up into small pieces about the size of marbles. You can do this by hand with a knife but it's easier to do it with a food processor. Either way you decide to do it, try to keep contamination to a minimum. Flame-sterilize the knife or the blade of the food processor, and use a work space relatively free of drafts. Spray Lysol liberally. Remember, Lysol is flammable! Keep it away from open flames.


Step 15:
After you've got the substrate cake chopped up into small chunks, take the cardboard out of the tray and dump out any excess water. Spread the chunks evenly over the bottom of the tray, and place the cardboard on top. Cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap so that most of the moisture stays in but gas exchange can occur.

Over the next week or so you'll notice the mycelium colonizing the cardboard. Once the cardboard is completely covered with white fluffy mycelium, go on to the next step.


Step 16:
After the cardboard is completely colonized, lay maple or alder wood-chips down over the cardboard to a depth of about 2 inches. Soon you will notice the mycelium colonizing the wood chips as well. Once they appear to be completely colonized by the mycelium, it is time to induce fruiting.Psilocybe azurescens and Cyanescens require a temperature of about 50

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