What follows is an interim report on my experiences with the
cultivation of Psilocybe azurescens
, or flying saucers. The
spores used came from
whom I've found to be a fast, efficient and courteous supplier. My
experiments took place during the summer in a part of the world where
daytime temperatures varied between 20 and 35 degrees celsius
throughout the cultivation period, so take heart: if in these
conditions I can get these guys to fruit, anyone can!
My principal aim was to push the simplicity envelope, so rather
than using the Eric hardwood sawdust and bran formula for the
substrate (which is in fact a Paul Stamets formula from The
Mushroom Cultivator), I used the straight PFTek rice flour and
vermiculite formula in ten half-pint jars, prepared in accordance
with the PFTek and The Magic Mushroom Growers Guide v.3.2.
Each jar was inoculated with 1 milliliter of spore solution across
four sites. The jars were then stored at room temperature in a
plastic storage box at an average temperature of about 23 degrees
The first sign of mycelial growth took place within four days
(four jars), with all jars showing mycelium at at least one
inoculation site within six days. Within 21 days two of the jars
were fully colonized. Another five jars were fully colonized at
around the thirty day mark, with the remaining three being ready at
around day 42.
Straight and twisted PF-type cakes
Once the first two jars were fully colonized, I waited about four
days before birthing them both into a tupperware container containing
wet perlite. Thus far the standard method for cubensis. One of
the cakes I left as it came. I draped the second cake in very thin
strips of corrugated cardboard that I had earlier soaked overnight
and pressure-cooked for twenty minutes. The sterilization bit may
have been a little over cautious, since as Stamets points out (and my
own subsequent experience has demonstrated), cardboard is actually
quite selective and does not seem to become readily infected with
much other than mycelium. This second cake ended up looking like
Cousin It from the Addams Family, and led to my wife making some
hurtful quips about the state of my mental health.
Having read that flying saucers required a drop in temperature to
between 10-15 degrees celsius to fruit, I initiated a series of
Byzantine techniques to lower the temperature. These included the
liberal use of plastic cooling blocks and placing the tupperware
container in a fridge set at maximum temperature. Because of
developments in the other experiments, I discontinued these tedious
activities after about 21 days.
The straight cake grew fluffy within a few days, but to date (30
days after incarceration in tupperware) nothing has happened.
Cousin It has provided much more entertainment. His or her
mycelium soon took over the cardboard "hair" and at about day 21
started to form primordia. At around day 30 from birthing I am now
faced with a very tumorous looking object bearing about six
developing fruiting bodies and countless pinheads and advanced
Crumbled Cakes and Cardboard
I next took 2 fully colonized jars (having left them about five
days to enable the mycelium to colonize right into the center of the
jar) and crumbled them into "marble sized pieces" a la Eric's guide.
These went into a small tupperware container and were covered with
pre-soaked, unsterilized corrugated cardboard. These were left in a
cupboard at around 20 degrees celsius. There was no humidifying agent
present other than the cardboard and the cakes themselves.
The cardboard betrayed signs of mycelial growth within a few days,
and to my great surprise showed massive pinning and primordial growth
by day 20 after birthing. Whilst I have not measured the humidity in
the tupperware container, the sides show liberal condensation. At
around day 25 there are a number of infant fruiting bodies rising up
from the corners of the cardboard.
Sliced Cakes and Cardboard
At around the same time I took another three fully colonized cakes
and cut them into slices of about three-quarters of a centimeter.
These were laid flat on the bottom of a clear plastic storage box
(about 18 inches by 2 feet, and about 18 inches deep) with soaked
corrugated cardboard over the top.
Very strong mycelium growth throughout the cardboard in a few
days, with hundreds of pinheads and sizable knots of primordia
within 20 days after slicing. By day 25 there are about four huge
mushrooms (caps not yet open) and some ten or fifteen smaller ones.
These worked better than the crumbled marbles because of greater
surface-area contact with the cardboard.
Sliced Cakes and Woodchips
I have cut up the remaining three cakes and sown them through a
specially constructed woodchip pile about four feet by four feet
under shady shrubs in the back yard. I gave them a thorough watering
and then placed a tarp over the top to keep humidity up. They've only
been there a week, but gentle probing of the woodchips has revealed
strong rhizomorphic growth over the woodchips in the vicinity of the
chunks of cake.
Conclusions thus far...
It seems to me that the standard PFTek methods for growing cubes
can be applied to azurescens, provided you drape the cakes in thin,
pre-soaked strips of cardboard before placing them on the perlite. If
you don't drape, the cakes seem to sit lost in silent and
unproductive contemplation of their tupperware...oh, never mind.
For a richer yield, slice the cakes into thin circles and cover
them with soaked corrugated cardboard inside a reasonably airtight
plastic storage box. My experience is that the cardboard provides
sufficient humidity to lead to strong flushes prior even to full
colonization of the cardboard. When the flushes slow, I plan to place
soaked woodchips over the cardboard, again a la Eric, although I'm
sure a fresh layer of soaked cardboard would work equally well;
perhaps unto all eternity. Who knows.