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Growing Mushrooms In Soil

A very interesting new method for cultivating cubensis mushrooms using soil. (experimental)

  1. 9" diameter round Tupperware (tm) plastic food-saver pot-like thingy, which comes with lid. Should be 4.5" deep.

  2. Rich potting soil, preferably containing sterilized cow-manure.

  3. Vermiculite -- $2.79 (2-gallon bag) at K-Mart. If you go to their garden department, they won't have any and they'll tell you they don't sell it. They do -- they LIE -- but NOT in the garden section.

  4. PF spore syringe -- $10.00.

  5. Coffee beans. I have a coffee tree growing in my house, so it was EASY to acquire them. Unfortunately, grocery-store beans are NOT good because they have junk in them and have been roasted BLACK and have NO shells on them. The fungus seems to like the shells MORE than the nut inside, which is whitish. I tried other types of beans, berries and seeds - and NONE worked. They needed too much moisture, and of also needed to be soft and sterilized for the fungus to have a shot at infecting it -- the very same conditions that favor bacterial growth. The coffee beans work miraculously well and DO NOT NEED TO BE STERILIZED. The soil is forgiving, as it retards infective outbreaks. Hey, it worked for me. If nobody can find coffee beans, and I manage to MASTER my techniques so that they can be consistently reproducible, then perhaps I'll consider sending people coffee beans. I BUY my coffee -- when I want coffee -- and I don't have a coffee grinder, so the beans are otherwise of no use to me. Unlike Juan Valdez, I have better things to do than to open shells and roast coffee beans for a lousy cup of coffee.

    Coffee beans are good because they don't dessicate quickly and always seem to be moist. In fact, when you place them on the soil dry and cracked, the shells seem to draw moisture from the soil, providing a nice medium for the fungus. You can leave the beans out normally for seeming eons, and no infection appears. Place them on soil that has been sprayed with spores, and they show fuzz in a couple days.

  6. Fresh sheet of copy-paper.
  • Clean room: Nope, don't worry about it.
  • Sterility of environment: Nope, don't worry about it.
  • Sterility of utensils touching soil: Nope, don't worry about it.
  • Sterility of soil: If you purchase sterilized potting soil and sterilized manure, that is ENOUGH. Don't worry about it. If the stuff ISN'T sterilized, place tupperware in microwave and heat that sucker up until its really hot. Then take it out, let it cool, and STIR A LOT!
  1. Fill container with soil mixture and make sure mixture REALLY IS a mixture. If not, OR if you made the soil solution yourself, then STIR THOROUGHLY. Add SOME (you decide, I used 1 cup) vermiculite, and stir.

  2. Cut, drill, or force (4) NAIL-HOLES into the SIDE of the tupperware container .75 (3/4) INCH BELOW the surface of the soil, ON THE SIDE OF THE CONTAINER -- EQUALLY SPACED APART. This is for adding MOISTURE TO THE SOIL WITHOUT WATERING THE SURFACE, with the aid of the USED SPORE SYRINGE.

  3. Cut coffee beans in HALF, but leave shells on. Place them into a cup of water for 5 minutes, then remove and place on surface of soil, halfway inserted, pointed up (beans ~ ovular shaped)

  4. Take CLEAN cup, fill with vermiculite and HOT water. Allow soaking, and then remove the vermiculite and wring out partially with aid of paper towel. Scatter small quantity of vermiculite on surface of soil. You don't want to COVER the soil completely, but just patchy. It holds moisture and prevents dessication of soil surface.

  5. Water soil LIGHTLY. You DON'T want the surface to be TOO moist, or you MAY have contamination. Contamination will EITHER appear as white spots, OR as tiny greenish dots. The healthy mycelium is a thick white fuzzy thing. If contamination occurs, consider your project a failure. I tried this several ways, and only ONE way became contaminated; I used a lot of moisture, and placed it in ABSOLUTE darkness with LID on for 2 days. Tiny green spots appeared UNDER the white fuzz. So at early stages, mycelium WILL NOT fight off infection. I don't know WHAT this green stuff was, but it moved in FAST.

  6. Spray surface of soil with 3 CCs of spore solution -- plenty.

  7. Place PAPER sheet OVER surface of pot (plastic) and put NEAR radiator. DO NOT -- I REPEAT -- DO NOT COVER TUPPERWARE with COVER, or an infection is ASSURED! Max heat = 85 degrees F. Covering with LID is beneficial for one-hour periods DAILY. But if you leave it on, it will become infected. You can and SHOULD always leave the paper on. Don't ask me why; I did several pots and I'm telling you what works. The key reason why this works is that the fungus, unlike bacteria, seems to have NO PROBLEM invading the soil quickly without a lot of moisture. Of course the fungi would like a little more, but better safe than sorry. If you keep the moisture level LOW, then you will most likely succeed. Once it raises above a critical level, there goes the neighborhood!

  8. Daily, remove paper and inject small quantities of CLEAN water UNDER surface of soil. You can, as I did, water the surface VERY lightly with the syringe. But be careful, or you will damage the mycelium. You NEVER -- I REPEAT -- NEVER want the SURFACE to SEEM WET, or even MOIST. It doesn't NEED to be really moist for the fungus to spread like MAD. Think DRY, as it is BETTER too dry than too moist. As long as there is PLENTY of oxygen, a VERY small amount of moisture is PLENTY at the beginning stages.

  9. Withing ONE WEEK, the surface should be NICELY covered with mycelium. The heaviest patches will be AROUND the beans. The first areas to colonize will be the beans, about 2-3 days after spraying. Stir the soil up around the surface. This will SEEM to destroy the mycelium, and when you are finished, there will be NO MORE WHITENESS on the surface. Don't fret, it will shortly grow back. After stirring; water, scatter a little moist vermiculite, and place the paper back.

  10. Within another 8-12 days, as long as the container is BESIDE the radiator, the fungus will COMPLETELY take over the surface of the soil again (VERY THICK). When it does, and when it is REALLY THICK, you can take the pot and place it into a terrarium like the one described in MMGG. Make sure it is WARM (85 Deg F), and make SURE it is HUMID. Case it with moist (wet and wring out) vermiculite and set in dark for 4-5 days, before turning on the aeration and light. Within a week, PINNING will start.
I have DONE EXACTLY as outlined, and it WORKED for me, up to the point of pinning (current=4 pinheads, 2 larger mushies). I don't know what will happen within the next week and I have not consumed anything yet I can only assume that since people pick these things (shrooms) off of cow pastures, and warm, swampy soils, and consume them, that these are likewise edible. I don't know, I should in a week. Ingest at your own risk. Oh yea, use a NICE light for fruiting. I did, and it works.

I am a student, and I am a gardner. So all of my experience has come from growing plants. Fungus is a new area for me, so I don't know how or why anything I have done has worked. I knew full well that Psilocybe cubensis could be found in cow-pastures, on the dung or on the soil - but always in SUNNY places. So I figured that it would be worth the experiment. I read a few books, and found that many contradicted the others. Then I read many grow-guides, and decided I'd try something new. So I did, and this is it.

The key advantage to my method is that you do not need a sterile environment; the soil is VERY forgiving. If you try the other methods, YOU MUST -- I REPEAT -- MUST guarantee sterility, or you will UNDOUBTEDLY FAIL. Even after the fungus has partially colonized, bacteria will have NO PROBLEM RACING IN and taking over immediately! Many people have succeeded in doing it, but many have also failed.

A good method of testing out your sterilization techniques:

  1. Take jar w/ substrate and sterilize it.
  2. Remove it and place it somewhere.
  3. Wait a week, open and smell. If it smells funky (putrid), then you would have failed.

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