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Offlineclubbase
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Registered: 06/30/12
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Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) * 42
    #18381574 - 06/07/13 05:19 AM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Introduction

Why another PF-style tek? The shroomery forums are replete with information on how to grow with BRF cakes. It is still hard, however, to find all the most valuable information for the absolute beginner in one place. It took me months of reading through the forums, culling the reliable and latest word on every small matter, as well as over two years of growing experience before I finally settled on a procedure that is efficient, easy to learn, and low-maintenance in the long run. This is the document that I wish I had access to when I got started.

Another issue is that beginners are often bewildered because they are not familiar with the whole growing cycle, so they don’t know how to situate the teks that they find in the larger context (what to do before and after the steps described in these teks). Therefore, I’ve decided to write a tek for the whole cycle, and in greater detail than is customary. I’ve left out spore syringe preparation, because I had nothing to contribute on this matter, and it’s completely covered in RR’s videos, which I strongly encourage beginners to purchase. At $9 for for 16 videos covering many aspects of mushroom growing, including pretty advanced stuff (that is not even mentioned in this tek), it is a real bargain.

An important caveat is that this guide makes no claim to being the best growing method. It is only meant to be an updated (as  of 2013) PF-style tek, that is, a tek for growing on BRF (brown rice flour) cakes in a FC (fruiting chamber). Many advanced growers think that this method is inferior to “bulk” methods (although this is debated, and some shroomery mavens still claim that BRF cakes hold their own against bulk methods). Similarly, the LC (liquid culture) preparation method described here (the simple honey-water tek with a minor tweak) is considered inferior by many, because it is somewhat contamination-prone. That is true, but it is arguably the simplest method for beginners, which requires no prior experience (compared to working with agar, which is the more professional way of doing things). Working with LC is a crap-shoot, but you can inoculate 5 large jars at a time, after which you will typically end up with at least 1-2 goods ones – and that’s a lot of LC.

Using this kind of PF-tek-based growing method, you can easily produce roughly 200 grams (cracker dry) of magic mushrooms per month, using only one FC. With double the number of jars and 2 FC's that's 400g, and so on. People usually trip on 2-5g of Psilocybe cubensis, so that should give an idea of what ridiculous quantities we are talking about. People who are interested in growing more per month usually move on to advanced bulk methods, which are not discussed here at all (see RR's videos as well as many teks on these forums).

Abbreviations:
LC = liquid culture
PC = pressure cooker
BRF = brown rice flour
FC = fruiting chamber (terrarium)
RR = Rogerrabbit (creator of http://www.mushroomvideos.com and veteran shroomery.org mod, whose comments on the board are the source of many of the small tips in this tek.)
verm = vermiculite

Table of Contents

  1      Acquiring/producing a spore syringe
  2      Preparing Liquid Culture
  3      Growing mushrooms on BRF cakes
    3.1  Preparing and sterilizing the BRF jars
    3.2  Inoculating
    3.3  Growing
  4      Drying and storing
  5      Appendix
    5.1  Preparing the fruiting chamber
    5.2  Lighting the FC
    5.3  Jar alternatives
    5.4  Notes on consuming

Below is a strip demonstrating the entire growing cycle according to this tek.



1. Acquiring/producing a spore syringe

To inoculate the spawning substrate (step 3.2), which in our case will be BRF jars, you need either a spore syringe (a syringe containing spores suspended in water) or LC (live mycelium in water). Inoculating with a spore syringe works, but it is not a very efficient use of spores, and is more contamination-prone. LC is already “alive-and-kicking”, so it is less likely to be thwarted by contaminants.

If this is your first grow, you can either
(1) obtain a spore print and make a spore syringe out of it, or
(2) obtain a prepared spore-syringe.

The latter is the easiest option for beginners. If you don’t know a grower who can provide you with a spore syringe, see the sponsor section of shroomery.org for a list of vendors. You probably want to start with spores of psilocybe cubensis. As per which variety, or “strain” to buy (this widespread use of the word “strain” is probably incorrect), a popular choice is B+. It is important to note that as far as psychotropic effect is concerned, “a cube is a cube” – whether you buy Equador, B+, Golden Teacher, or whatever – it doesn’t matter. They just look different, and some are said to be easier to grow than others – see RR’s reply here.

If you choose to prepare a spore syringe from a print, a great way to learn is to watch RR’s video on sporeprinting and syringe making. There are also many guides on the forums.

2. Preparing Liquid Culture (with honey water)

Now that you have a spore syringe, there are various methods of liquid culture preparation. The easiest way for beginners, in my opinion, is simple honey-water LC (there are alternatives to honey – see here). This method is considered inferior by some advanced growers on shroomery.org compared to, say, agar methods, because it’s hit-or-miss (some jars will develop contamination) and because it is less efficient if you are colonating many jars. It is, however, among the easiest methods for inoculating jars, and in my opinion the best for people who are growing relatively small amounts (less than 1kg/month is "small amounts"), who need to minimize the time spent on growing mushrooms in general, while not compromising quality. To get around the contamination issue with LC, make 4-5 jars each time, and you’ll typically end up with at least 2 good ones.

Things needed:
  • A few large jars (0.5 liters at least) with a good seal.
  • (optional) a few 14-16 gauge syringe needles.
  • Spore syringe with a 14-16 gauge needle (This refers to the needle’s diameter and that’s pretty thick! Thin needles will cause trouble with the viscous liquid culture you will be dealing with). Rogerrabbit (in 2011) has recommended 14 gauge. Many vendors sell liquid spore syringes with 16 gauge needles and those work very well. These syringes can be purchased from spore suppliers, or created from spore prints (see a spore syringe tek, or watch Rogerrabbit’s excellent video on how to make spore syringes from prints). 14 gauge needles have a 2.1mm outer diameter (thickness).
  • Silicone that can endure temperatures up to 300c (“gasket maker” silicone)
  • A pressure cooker (hereafter “PC”)
  • Liquid honey, preferably light-colored and runny (not too viscous to measure  out 4cc easily). Some people prefer organic, but  regular also works fine.
  • A few glass marbles (per jar) for stirring. Some advanced growers use a magnetic stirrer instead.
  • Measuring spoons and cups (you need to measure liquids in ranges circa 4cc, 100cc)
  • Ethyl-alcohol lamp for flame sterilization of needles.


Preparing the jar.
Punch a hole in the center of the jar’s lid big enough for your needle to easily pass through. You can do this with a thick nail (about 2mm thick) and hammer. I prefer punching downwards (the lid being oriented as when on a jar.) The idea being that you don’t want the punch-spikes to go upward and interfere with the needle insertion later on.

Cover the hole and its surrounding area with a layer of silicone. The area of the hole itself requires more silicone (on both sides). Otherwise, if you apply too thin a layer, it may give in to pressure in the PC and break. It’s OK to have a blob as thick as 2mm around the hole. The diameter of the silicone layer can be even 3-4cm (for the same reason - you don’t want everything to get sucked through the hole due to pressure differences in the PC). Wait 24 hours for the silicone to harden (or don't, and rely on the high PC temperatures to harden it). It will be somewhat gooey even after drying up. Below is an image of the result on a 1-pint jar. (Note that the jar used in this image is not the best kind. You can get a better seal with the 2-piece jar lids as found on the standard US-style mason jars.)



Preparing and sterilizing the honey water.
Boil clean water, pour it into the jars, leaving about 5 cm of air on top, and mix exactly 4% honey into the water. So, for every 96cc water you need 4cc honey. Mix the honey well in the jar.

Make sure that the rim (where the lid will touch the jar) is completely dry (you don’t want any liquids mediating between the jar contents and the filthy outside world. You can clean the rim with alcohol, and the rubber lining of the jar lid as well, to remove oily liquids if there are any. Twist the jar lid shut all the way and then go by one of the following two options:
(A) loosen the lid ¼ of a turn. The idea is to let some air pass when sterilizing, so as to prevent the jar from breaking from pressure differences in the PC). Or:

(B) Keep the lids completely shut, and stick a syringe needle (without the syringe of course) in the hole (through the silicone). Put some cotton on top (in the needle base opening). This will allow air to pass in and out (through the tiny hole of the needle), but germs will hardly pass through because of the cotton. (See images below)



Load the jars into your pressure cooker. Some people cover the jar lid with aluminum foil to keep moisture away from the lid. This can help if you have a needle sticking out with cotton in its cap. You want to prevent water from dripping on that cotton. I admit, however, that from my meager "personal statistics" I don't see a reduction in contamination when covering jars in the PC - but I do it anyway. Lately, I have been replacing aluminum foil with regular paper for covering. It's inconvenient because it can't be shaped like foil, but I don't like the metallic smell that I get in my house after PC'ing with aluminum foil. I am a recovering hypochondriac, so take this with a grain of salt, but aluminum - in some of its forms - can be toxic, and so it might be a slight risk to cook or PC with it. Most growers reading this will probably think I am being ridiculous.

Pressure cook the honey-water jars for 15 minutes at 15 PSI.  Sterilizing for longer than that can induce caramelization of the sugars in the honey, which will make the solution less transparent and it will be harder to spot contamination later on. If you don’t know how to sterilize jars in a PC, see BRF sterilization section 3.1 below. After turning the PC off, wait 24 hours for the jars to cool (don’t open the PC!).

Now, if you chose (A) above, screw the not-tightly-screwed caps tightly all the way. Also, you now need to balance the pressure in the jar so that it is equal to room pressure (otherwise it will suck in your spores from the spore syringe when you try to inoculate the honey water later). You do this by...sticking a syringe needle in there! But this time you can do it with needle connected to a syringe, and stuff the syringe using cotton with alcohol, to act as a filter. And of course, flame-sterilize the needle (until red hot) before sticking it in there. This pressure-balancing step is of course unnecessary if you chose method (B) above.

Now you have a tightly-closed jar with sterilized honey-water in it and a self-healing silicone injection port on top.

Inoculating the sterilized honey-water with spores.
Time to inject spores. 1cc is enough per jar. Of course, flame sterilize the spore-syringe needle (until red hot) before sticking into the jar. If you opted for (B) above, you need to first take the "air-pressure-needle" out. The needle doesn’t have to be submerged in the honey-water when injecting. Just let the spores drop in there, and mix the jar later with the help of those marbles. Some people report success with as little as ¼ cc. If your silicone port does not self-heal properly, have a dab of silicone ready in your other hand when the needle is pulled out, in order to shut off the hole before filthy air gets in.

You now have some spores swimming in sterilized honey water. Place the jars in a dark place...or a normally lit room, depending on who you ask - there is no consensus about lighting for LC. Just don't put it in direct sunlight. People usually recommended room temperature (21-26c is fine).

Waiting for the mycelium to develop.
After 1-2 weeks you will have fluffy off-white stuff in the jar (as in the image below). Otherwise, if it is oddly colored or like powdery disintegrated stuff, then it is contaminated and can be discarded. You can keep the jar, but clean it thoroughly.



As it grows, shake the jar (or sort of rotate it around the base) so that the marbles break the mycelium up into smaller pieces (eventually, the mycelium needs to be able to pass through your syringe needle). Also, do this right before using the LC, as described below.

Even if it looks nice and fluffy as in the picture above, it can be contaminated, so it is recommended to try it on a substrate jar before counting on it: inject it into a sterilized BRF jar (as explained below), wait a week and see if the mycelium is developing properly (nice and white). Or you can risk it and start a whole batch of jars... At worst it will be a waste of some BRF, vermiculite and time.

Storing the LC.
When the LC contains enough fluffy mycelium (as in the pic above), keep the jar in your fridge. Otherwise it will go bad within a few weeks. The bottom of your fridge is coldest so probably preferable. Do not freeze it. It can last for many months in the fridge. I have had success even after a year and a half.



3. Growing mushrooms on BRF cakes

Things needed:
For making BRF jars:
  • Mason jars – 1/2 pint wide-mouth jars are the best – see jar alternatives in the appendix.
  • Vermiculite –  see below on choosing between fine/coarse verm.
  • Brown rice flour (BRF)
  • A pressure cooker. The serious growers usually prefer the All-American brand. The regular cooking ones also work well. The bigger it is, the more jars it can hold at a time, so bigger is better.
  • A 14-16 gauge syringe with LC (see the tek for making these)
  • Measuring cup (you need to measure water/verm/BRF in ranges circa 100cc)
  • Big mixing bowl
  • Ethyl-alcohol lamp for flame sterilization of needles.
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol 60-70%. See here for why 70% is better than 90% and above.

For the “shotgun” fruiting chamber:
  • Perlite – you’ll need a big bag of perlite for this.
  • A big clear rectangular plastic box.
  • A drill, with an option to disable hammer action, and a 6mm bit. (We want to avoid hammer-action drilling because it can crack the plastic.) For the small modification of the shotgun terrarium described below, I recommend also getting a much smaller bit (1-2mm). I use a Dremel tool for making the smaller holes with a 1.5mm bit, and a drill to make the 6mm holes.
  • A lighting rig for the FC, including 6000-7000 kelvin “natural daylight” fluorescent bulbs and some kind of lighting rig to hold them close to the FC. See lighting in the appendix.
  • Spray bottle for misting water


3.1 Preparing and sterilizing the BRF jars

Once more, I recommend that you first watch RR’s first video (Growing Mushrooms on brown rice flour), in which BRF jars are prepared, sterilized, and birthed. It is very helpful to actually see somebody do all this stuff. In this video, RR and Roadkill do not use a pressure cooker, noting that it is possible to sterilize BRF jars with just a big pot. It is strongly recommended, however, that you do obtain a pressure cooker, because contamination is easier to avoid this way.

Preparing the jar lids
Take the flat part of the mason jar lid, and make 2-4 holes close to the edges. This can be done with a thick nail and hammer. Make sure the hole is big enough for your 14 gauge syringe needle. I find that 2 holes are enough (see image below), but if you inject LC into more holes (inoculation points) you will get faster colonization.



Preparing the pressure cooker
You need 4-5cm of water, and the jars should be elevated to water level more or less. You can elevate them using jar lids, or, since those tend to rust, you might prefer something like this: place a thin towel at the bottom (to prevent glass clunking), and on top of that put a large glass ashtray (upside down), and if it is not wide enough to be a basis for the jars, you can place a flat glass serving-plate-thingy or flat plate. That should elevate the base up by 4-5cm. The PC is now ready for the BRF jars we are about to prepare.

Mixing the spawning substrate
The spawning substrate that we are preparing, which is to occupy the jars, is 2 parts vermiculite, 1 part water, 1 part brown rice flour. For example, to make 6 jars you need about 1L (one liter = 4.2 cups) of vermiculite, 0.5L of water and 0.5L of BRF. Note that if you are using the right kind of jar (wide-mouth ½ pint mason jars) you can easily fit a dozen jars in a medium-sized pressure cooker by stacking them. 

First mix the verm with the water. As RR mentions here, fine verm is superior because it holds more volume per volume and is better as a dry filter layer (see jar preparation below), and it is certainly better for the dunk and roll (covering the cakes before fruiting - see below). On the other hand, coarser verm (medium size) may be better for the BRF substrate because it leaves larger air pockets for the mycelium to populate. I usually buy a bag of medium verm and a bag of fine verm, and use both for these different purposes (medium for substrate, and fine for dry filter layer and drunking), but I am still experimenting with different kinds of verm. Coarser verm will require a bit less water than ½ of the verm volume, so add the water in increments as you mix, until the verm reaches capacity – meaning it has reached maximum absorption, and there is no excess water at the bottom of the bowl. Push the verm with your mixing spoon, and if water oozes out freely, there is too much of it. Below is an image with verm at capacity. Only a little bit of water trickles out when the verm is compacted with the wooden spoon.



After the verm is mixed well with water, add the brown rice flour, and mix well. The result should be fluffy. It is important to add the water to the verm first, and the BRF after. Otherwise it will be sticky instead of airy and fluffy.

Filling the jars
With the spawning substrate ready, add it to a jar with a spoon, leaving 1cm of air on top. It is important not to compact the spawning substrate in the jars! The growing mycelium will displace the pockets of air between the chunks of verm – so you want more air, not more substrate. After making sure the rim of the jar is clean (wiping it is a good idea), fill the remaining 1cm of the jar with dry vermiculite. This dry verm layer acts as a filter against germs and mold. Close the jar. Some people prefer to put the flat part of the lid rubber side up, because it is easier to open later and easier to clean, but it doesn’t matter to the mushroom. Repeat this with all the jars you can fit in your pressure cooker.

It is customary to cover the top of the jars with aluminum foil, to prevent water from dripping into the holes and getting into your dry verm layer. In my experience, since foil doesn’t absorb water, when doing that I end up with drops of water on the jar lid anyway, and presumably some water finds its way into the holes, not to mention the lids will tend to rust. To prevent this (as well as the metallic smell I get  in my kitchen when PC’ing aluminum foil), I use thick paper (like from paper bags) to cover the jars. The paper absorbs water and we avoid drops on the jar lids when the sterilization is done.

Sterilizing
With the jars in the PC, lock it, and set to 15 PSI. Heat it on high until pressure is reached, then reduce heat and keep it in pressure for 1 hour. (It takes some experimenting to find out how low the heat has to be in order to maintain pressure without the PC releasing excess steam. You might want to try a no-jar-water-only run before attempting actual sterlization for the first time.) After an hour, turn the heat off. Do not open the PC – let it cool down slowly (at least 10 hours). It is a good idea to sterilize at the end of the day, and then let it cool down overnight, and inoculate in the morning.

3.2 Inoculating

When the jars have cooled down, open the PC, and take them into a room with minimal airflow (shut the windows, AC, fans, etc.).

Filling the syringe with LC
Take your LC jar out of the fridge, clean the inoculation port area (the silicone smudge) with a bit of alcohol, and shake the jar in order to break up the mycelium with the marbles. Now before we fill it with LC, the inside of the syringe needs to be clean. If you are reusing a syringe (they can be reused many times) this can be done as follows. First, clean the inside with alcohol (you can fill the syringe with alcohol and then squirt it back into your alcohol bottle a few times). Then, clean out the trace amounts of alcohol left in the syringe (we don’t want it to kill the LC) by sucking in a syringe-full of hot water that has just been boiled and pushing it out a few times. Some people even do this with water as it is boiling in a pot with the heat on, but in my experience, this is unnecessary.

Now, take your empty syringe, flame sterilize it with the alcohol lamp until the needle is red hot (not too long – if you let it stay red hot for more than a few seconds, the needle will conduct the heat up to the plastic base, which will begin to melt.) I like to hold the lamp up at an angle so that the needle is almost entirely in the flame (as in the image below). Of course you can just move the syringe back and forth over the flame to get the full length of the needle red hot (except the last cm next to the plastic base).



Now stick the needle into the LC jar, tilt the whole thing to an angle where the needle tip is submerged, and suck out LC. To inoculate 10 jars I would fill a whole 10cc syringe, but people have reported successfully using much less LC per jar (even ¼ cc per jar). Make sure that the silicone inoculation port  “heals” when you pull the needle out of the LC jar. If it doesn’t, add a tiny bit of silicone to cover up the hole. Put the LC jar back in the fridge. You now have a syringe full of LC that you can inoculate the BRF jars with. Some people use surgical gloves when doing all of this. I find this to be unnecessary if you sterilize the jars and needle properly, as outlined above.

Inoculating the BRF jars
It’s time to inoculate the jars one by one with LC. Some growers like to use a glovebox to do this. The idea is to prevent airflow which might carry germs and mold into the inoculating space. In my experience, if you PC the jars properly, and inoculate below the layer of dry verm, you will have no contamination problems, even without a glovebox. If you want to use a glovebox, a crude one can be constructed by cutting out large holes for your arms on one side of a big clear plastic box with a flat and sturdy bottom (I tried to make one with a shitty box and had jars sliding around because the bottom of the box was not completely flat).

Before every jar, wipe the needle with alcohol on a paper towel (to remove silicone or verm), and then flame-sterilize it. You don’t have to sterilize between injection ports of the same jar, but the "official recommendation" is to sterilize before each new jar. To be honest, after a few grows I started getting impatient and I now only flame-sterilize once every 10 jars or so. I do still wipe the needle clean with alcohol-on-paper-towel between jars. I have not had any contamination as a result, and it makes the inoculation process much faster. You want to inject about 0.5cc into each hole so that the LC trickles down along the edges of the jar and reaches the bottom (or almost). To do this, get the needle in at an angle so that the tip of the needle is against the side of the jar (as in the image below).



That way you can see the LC coming out against the glass, and control its flow. Another reason is that by inoculating along the sides of the jar, you ensure that mycelial growth will begin there – so you will be able to identify contamination early on. You can even inject more, say 2cc per hole, with no problems, and this will even make colonization faster, but if you are in no hurry and want to save on LC, then 1cc per jar (that is 0.5 per hole) is enough. Note that you don’t want to inject too much and create a puddle in the jar. Standing water is a contamination precipitator, and is therefore something to avoid throughout the whole mushroom growing process. Also, make sure that the needle penetrates beyond the dry verm layer. The surest way to invite mold and germs into your jar is by wetting that protective verm layer. This is also the reason for alcohol-wiping the needle - we want to avoid getting bits of wet verm into the protective layer of dry verm.

3.3 Growing

Colonization
After inoculating, place the jars on a shelf at room temperature. Per RR’s recommendation, try to keep the room below 81F = 27C. They will also colonize in a room at 30C, but with increased chances of contamination. Make sure there is nothing covering the jars’ inoculation holes – the mycelium needs fresh air exchange. It used to be believed that colonizing jars should be kept in the dark (Stamets 1983, p.198), but in fact exposure to ambient light is good for colonization (see here). If you want to stack them to save shelf space, you can cut out pieces of cardboard that will allow the jars to stand on each other without obstructing the holes.  The jars should gradually turn white with mycelium (it usually takes 2-3 weeks). I sometimes add a piece of paper towel on top of each jar to prevent germs and mold from falling into the holes. This extra protection can be removed when colonization is about half way done (that is, when the jar is about half white). The paper acts as a filter, so it cannot be heavy or thick, and it has to be loosely placed on the jar — you don't want to block the holes (your mycelium needs to breathe).

At this point you want to have your shotgun fruiting chamber ready (see FC construction section below). The image below on the left is a BRF jar a few days after inoculation with LC. On the right is fully colonized jar. When fully colonized, the contents of the jar become pretty stiff – a “BRF cake”.



If a jar develops green or black stuff (as in the image on the left below), it is contaminated and you can throw the cake out. Make sure to clean the jar thoroughly before reusing it.



Sometimes a contaminant will start developing after the mycelium has expanded significantly, in which case the mycelium may prevail. For example, the image above on the right shows mycelium growing over a pocket of (what appears to be) mold and consuming it. In these cases, you can ignore the contamination and proceed as usual.

Bacterial infection, unfortunately, can also be white and thus harder to identify. If you see something that looks like melted ice cream, it’s bacteria (see here).

Consolidation period
When the jar is completely white (bottom of the jar as well), put a date on it (a sticky note or something), and wait another week – this is the consolidation period. The idea is to let the mycelium consolidate its hold on the substrate, which allows for more vigorous fruiting later when the cake is placed in fruiting conditions (that is, in the FC – see fruiting section below). Sometimes the cakes shrink towards the end of colonization, drawing away from the sides of the jar – that is normal. However, if tiny mushrooms (pins) start developing in the jars (“premature pinning”, or “in-vitro pinning” – as in the images below), and you already have full colonization plus a few days, you can pop those cakes out of the jar and take them into the next step. If premature pinning frequently occurs earlier than that, then you are either using the wrong kind of jars, or your inoculation holes are too many (or too large). The trigger for pinning is exposure to air. As mentioned above, colonizing BRF jars require fresh air exchange, but it should be moderate (via the inoculation holes only). Only later, when we pop the cakes out and put them in the FC do we want more air exchange to induce fruiting. When using the right kind of jar and only two inoculation points, I rarely get premature pinning.




The “dunk and roll” 
After the consolidation period, take the cakes out of the jars (they should just pop out), and remove the dry verm later. The image below shows consolidated cakes after being removed from their jars. Note that only the one in the middle is of the recommended size (I didn’t have enough ½ pint wide-mouth jars at the time.)




At this point, the cakes are relatively dry, so they won’t fruit very well. To replenish the cakes, submerge them in water for 24 hours (the “dunk”), by putting them in a water-filled container (e.g. a bucket) and covering them with something (a plate can work) to hold them underwater.

After the 24 hour dunk, take the cakes out, and wash them (you don’t have to be afraid to hold them under running water in the kitchen sink – they are pretty tough by now). The next step is the “roll” – which is to apply a thin layer of vermiculite to the cakes. Some people like to do this by rolling the cakes in a plate of dry verm. I find it more effective to hold the wet cake in one hand, while slowly pouring dry verm on it from a cup in the other hand as I turn the cake around - I get more uniform coverage on the cakes and less verm is wasted. Also, I use fine verm for this - it sticks better than coarse verm. If you only bought one kind of verm for the whole process, it will work don't worry. The point of this layer of verm is to retain moisture that the mycelium can draw from. Some people even add an extra spoonful of verm on top. It is a matter of dispute whether the bottom of the cake should be covered with verm as well. I have not seen a difference in performance between bottom-covered cakes and bare-bottom cakes. Here is a before/after:



Fruiting
Now that the cakes are covered in verm, place them on the moist perlite in your shotgun FC. The temperature range recommended for fruiting of p. cubensis is 23-27C (this refers to the temperature of the room). Temperatures as low as 21C are also fine, but growth will be much slower. Growth will be extremely slow below 20C and you will have almost no growth at 17C and below. If your room is too cold and you are thinking of heating only the FC with some contraption, as opposed to heating the whole room, I can save you some time – don’t do it. If the heat source is too close to the cakes, they can get scorched, and the scorched areas can attract mold. Even direct light from a 10V compact fluorescent bulb can kill mycelium (light should be outside, and pass through the transparent, but still somewhat diffusing, plastic).

To keep the perlite relatively clean from verm, some people place the cakes on a square of aluminum foil (as in the picture on the left below). Another option is square pieces of plastic mesh, like window screen (as in the image below on the right). You can also put the cakes directly on the perlite – it’s just an issue of cleanliness.



Note that in the image on the right, some cakes are stacked (without verm in between them). This is a good way to get larger fruit (mushrooms) – the cakes’ mycelium actually binds together after a few days, and they become essentially double-sized cakes capable of producing larger mushrooms. Some people like to prevent this merger from happening, by putting a barrier of aluminum foil between the stacked cakes. I don’t see a problem with stacking them sans barrier, and the fruit are definitely bigger this way. (Surprisingly perhaps, there is evidence that smaller shrooms are more potent than larger ones – per gram of course – but growers usually prefer larger fruit because they are less of a hassle when it comes to harvesting, cleaning, etc.)

Make sure you have plenty of light on the FC (see the lighting section in the appendix). The best lighting cycle is 12 hours on, 12 off. RR recommends lighting the FC from an angle. If you can’t arrange that, lighting from above also works fine (provided the FC lid is transparent). RR also found that exposing the cakes to a few minutes of direct sunlight every day further encourages fruiting (see here and here).

For the mushrooms to grow well, you need at least 95% humidity in the FC. To retain humidity, mist the cakes with a spray bottle about 4 times a day. In the first few days, mist indirectly, so that the water falls gently on them and the surrounding perlite – you don’t want to get the verm off the cakes. Within a few days, the verm coating will stick to the cakes. It is recommended to also fan the cakes a bit every time you mist, to displace CO2 with fresh air (you can use the FC lid to do this). Some people keep a hygrometer in the FC and obsess about getting exact humidity, but it’s not like you can do anything about it except construct the FC properly and mist 4 times a day – so adding a hygrometer to this setup will do nothing more than satisfy your curiosity. A good use for a hygrometer is making sure that your room humidity is at least 50%, to ensure the proper circulation that the shotgun FC is supposed to induce. (Note that hygrometers require regular calibration.) If your room is too dry, you should consider getting a humidifier (more on that and how to calibrate here). You don’t want to mist too much – the cakes should look “sweaty” with water at all times, but don’t swamp the verm on top of the cakes with water – standing water is bad. And if a lot of excess water drips from the bottom holes of the FC, you are misting too much. I always keep a small plastic container below the FC to collect excess water.

You should expect mushrooms to appear after a week or two. When a mushroom’s partial veil (the thin membrane below the cap) breaks, you can harvest it by twisting it gently at the base. Some people prefer to harvest right before the partial veil breaks so as to avoid spores falling on the surrounding perlite. When all the larger mushrooms on a cake have been harvested, do not expect the tiny ones to become much bigger – mushroom growth on a cake occurs in short bursts (flushes), so when the big ones are ready, you can harvest the smaller fruit as well, and take the cake out of the FC. The image on the left below shows an average flush of psilocybe cubensis, and the one in the middle is a very good flush (the cake is barely seen behind its fruit). Note that the partial veil has broken on the top shrooms, but not the ones at the bottom. It’s reasonable in such cases to harvest only the ones on top and let the others grow a bit more. The image on the right shows the effect of using larger cakes (or stacking cakes). As explained here, jars bigger than ½ pint wide-mouths are not ideal, but they can work, and the larger cakes typically yield larger mushrooms. In this image on the right, the cake was made with a tall glass (13.5cm tall to be exact).



Subsequent flushes
When the cake has been fully harvested, you can prepare it for a second flush. Keep it dry for 24 hours (you can place it outside of the FC), and then dunk it again. This drying period reduces susceptibility to mold in the subsequent flush, and is meant to imitate a natural setting to some degree. Some people always dunk for 24 hours. Though this is good before the first flush, I prefer less dunking time for subsequent flushes – even only 12 hours – because otherwise the cakes may get too soggy, inviting mold. You usually don’t have to roll (cover with verm) the cake again, because the previously applied verm layer will have become embedded in the mycelium. People have reported getting even 4 flushes out of each cake. I usually get only meager output after the second flush. After its run of flushes, the cake becomes too mushy and tired-looking, and will not yield big mushrooms anymore. You can then discard the cake or use it as pretty good garden compost.

Fruiting problems and their causes
If you see a lot of white fuzzy stuff on the stems, your mushrooms lack fresh air or light (so fan more, and make sure you have at least one fluorescent bulb next to each FC). If you are consistently getting small mushrooms, you either haven’t consolidated long enough, or there is a lack of moisture or light. If you see mushrooms with a bluish streak along the edge of the cap, or a black cap – these are aborts (mushrooms whose growth has stalled and will not grow further). You might as well pick them when you spot them, because they are going to rot. If all of the shrooms on a cake are aborts, then either that cake is spent (had its run of flushes), or it is suffering from too much moisture or contamination. The  image on the left below shows such a bluish streak along the edge of a cap, indicating an abort. The image on the right shows why – the cake (already in its second flush) is losing a battle against mold. The mushrooms near the mold growth are aborting (blue on caps), while the ones on top seem yet unaffected. A cake like that should be removed from the FC immediately before it contaminates the others.



The next generation
When you have especially good performance on a cake, you might consider creating a spore print from one of the nicer mushrooms. Spore prints last for years when kept in a dark dry place. When you run out of LC, you can use the prints to make a spore syringe, and use that to make more LC. RR’s last video explains how to take prints and prepare a spore syringe.

4. Drying and storing

After harvesting the mushrooms, some people like to clean them (some verm and perlite may stick to them) and some go so far as to cut off the base of the stem, where a bit of verm may be embedded. If you don’t intend to eat the mushrooms fresh (see 'Notes on Consuming' section below for amounts), you need to dry them or they will rot pretty fast. Put them on a drying rack and point a fan at them for a few days (a day might suffice if the air is dry), until they are almost cracker-dry, that is, until they barely bend without breaking. The image below shows a shabby drying rack using a plastic mesh on a metal grill.



Some people leave it at that. If you want to retain the mushroom’s potency for a long time (more than a few months), you should dry them in a desiccant drying-chamber after the fan drying (explained below). It is not a good idea to put them directly in a drying-chamber without fanning, because your desiccant will be quickly spent, not to mention it will take much longer to dry. With fanning+desiccant drying you can you get them really cracker-dry, reducing their exposure to oxygen to a minimum (psilocybin is sensitive to light and oxygen). When dry, you can transfer them to an airtight container, and keep it in a cool dark place. It is not particularly helpful to place the container in the fridge or a freezer. Some people use a food dehydrator after fanning (or instead). Unless you are in a hurry to dry within a day, that is unnecessary.

Drying with desiccant
A cheap and effective desiccant is calcium chloride, which can be purchased at paint or hardware stores. Read about alternatives here. To build a chamber, take an airtight plastic container (those side-clipping airtight food containers are ideal), and secure two mesh surfaces (preferably plastic) in the container – one to hold the desiccant above ground (so that the water drips on the container floor) and one above that to hold the mushrooms. Make sure that mushrooms do not come into contact with calcium chloride! It will easily osmose its way into your shrooms via the slightest contact (it can even seep through a towel). Or if you are lazy like me, just put a towel below the desiccant to collect the water, like in the picture below. (Note, however, that the mushrooms are safely separated from the desiccant by a firm plastic barrier with holes, with a mesh on top of it.)




If you don’t want to bother with connecting meshes to the inside of containers, here is a simple alternative: take a short glass jar, perforate the lid (with hammer and nail), put some calcium chloride in this jar with a paper towel layer (to collect water). Then place this jar (or a few of them) in an airtight container. You can then throw the mushrooms in there. Below is a small perforated-lid jar with calcium chloride, and a possible airtight container for it.  I only use this method for long-term storage after the mushrooms have been rendered cracker-dry in a proper desiccant chamber (with a mesh and all that).



5. Appendix

5.1 Preparing the fruiting chamber

Many designs of fruiting chambers (terrariums) have been attempted over the years, including fancy ones with fans and automated hydration, but the best one happens to be the simplest to make – the “shotgun FC” (or SGFC). To build it, take a big clear plastic storage box and drill 6mm (1/4”) holes about 5cm (2 inches) apart on all 6 sides of the box (hence the name). RR explains how it works here.

I have found it easier to work with a slightly modified shotgun FC design: drill much smaller 2-3mm holes – which should therefore be closer, about 2cm apart – on the bottom of the box and along the lower 12cm of the sides. (If the box has grooves along the edges, the water will collect there, so you want to drill holes along those grooves as well.) The rest of the box should have the bigger 6mm holes spaced 5cm apart. The reason for drilling smaller holes on the bottom 12cm is that the box will contain 7-12cm of wet perlite, and the bigger 6mm holes can allow perlite to fall through, making a mess on the table (or whatever elevated surface you are using) below the FC. Also, if you want to reuse the perlite, which is possible, you can use the box itself as a big colander to clean it. After a few grows the perlite may get musty and you should either replace it or clean it. I would not recommend wasting your time on this unless perlite is really expensive in your area (in the US it's dirt cheap, so don't bother). To clean it, add some bleach into the perlite, mix well to kill everything in there, and wash the bleach out with a garden hose – it sticks fast to the perlite, so wash thoroughly. Cleaning in the FC would not be feasible with the bigger 6mm holes on the bottom, because the washing would push most of the perlite out through the holes. In any case, washing reduces the volume of perlite (by as much as 50%) and creates some perlite-sludge, so you will need to add some new perlite anyway. The image below shows this distribution of holes. The lid is not shown – it should have 6mm holes as well.




Note that the box in the image above is not ideal because the plastic is a bit opaque. Try to obtain a box that is more transparent than that. If you intend to light from the top, of course, the lid should be clear as well. That is not necessary, however. You can light from the side and rely on a white lid to reflect the light downwards – see RR’s comment here. One of my FCs had a pretty opaque lid, so I made 2 rectangular holes on top and replaced that area with glass (from a cheap picture frame), using contact cement to hold it in place. I made up for the lack of holes in the glass by adding more holes in the plastic around it. If you do resort to this usually unnecessary contraption, then don't use more than one small compact-fluorescent bulb, and keep it at least 10cm from the FC lid. You don't want the cakes to suffer from overheating as a result of thermal radiation. If the cakes overheat they will rot. You will either see mold developing on the baked-to-death tops of the cakes themselves, or mushroom caps aborting and rotting as they pop out.




The last step of the FC preparation is to add 7-12cm of wet perlite to the box. You should do this only when your cakes are ready for fruiting – in other words after the dunk and roll step. Use a colander to wash the perlite, wait until the excess water drips out, and pour it into the FC. I begin by first laying out 1-2cm of dry perlite and then throwing the wet perlite on top of it. This is only to prevent dripping from the bottom of the FC - eventually all the perlite will be wet. Repeat until the FC contains the required amount - for a big FC I would use 12cm of perlite, and less for a smaller one. Flatten the perlite layer so that you have a convenient surface for your cakes. It has been claimed that cakes perform better when placed close together (about 5cm apart). Choose the size of the box according to how many cakes you intend to fruit at once. Each flush on a single ½ pint (cubensis) cake yields roughly 2-7 dry grams.

When the FC is ready, place it on a table or something like that (the floor is not a good idea – most contaminants settle close to the floor), and elevate the FC (with bricks or a similar shaped object) above that surface, so that most of the holes at the bottom are not blocked). Air has to be able to circulate under the FC.

5.2 Lighting the FC
A shotgun FC requires the light of at least one compact fluorescent bulb in the “natural sunlight” 5,000 Kelvin to 7,000 Kelvin range. A 15W, or “60W-equivalent” will do. You don’t have to worry about having too much light – no amount is too much (RR’s reply here). You will need to construct some kind of safe fixture to hold the bulbs next to the FC (the bulb should not touch the plastic or be inside the FC – putting them inside will scorch the cakes, not to mention it is unsafe). RR  recommends lighting the FC from an angle. (If you can’t arrange that, lighting from above also works.) Recall that it is much better to place the FC on an elevated surface like a table, and it should be further elevated with something like bricks. So your lighting rig should accommodate for that. The image below shows a slipshod top-light rig. Note that the styrofoam has large openings on the sides, which are crucial – a complete enclosure of the bulbs would trap the heat emanating from them, creating a fire hazard. However, using styrofoam is in itself a fire hazard, so try to construct a fixture with non-flammable materials.



5.3 Jar alternatives
The reason US-style wide-mouth ½ pint jars (Bell, Kerr, and the like) are better than tall ones is that the verm at the bottom becomes too compacted in tall jars and so the mycelium doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Also, these wide-mouth jars are tapered so the cake pops out easily (if they are not tapered, it can be impossible to remove the cake without breaking the jar). The narrow (regular-mouth) ½ pint US-style mason jars will work, but not as well. Also, they are harder to clean and their cakes are harder to stack in the FC. If you live outside the US, wide-mouth jars can be hard to come by. As an alternative, you can use regular tapered glasses of roughly that size, and cover them with aluminum foil on top instead of a lid (you don’t have to make holes in the foil before you sterilize them – the syringe needle will take care of that when you inoculate). Below are workable options. From the left: the ideal ½ pint wide-mouth jar, a regular glass with aluminum foil, a tall glass, and a ½ pint regular-mouth jar on the right.




5.4 Notes on consuming
First, a word from the Irish bard:

Quote:

“Christ said “The lukewarm I vomit from my mouth”; and that’s how I feel about people who chip away at psychedelics and take pissant amounts, and go to clubs, and go to class, and go to the mall, and – you know – this is not the program, folks. I mean, it’s somebody’s program; but I’m interested in life-changing experiences.”  —Terence McKenna




This is not to suggest that you should always take heroic doses of shrooms. It is best to start with small amounts. The point is that psilocybin is not a recreational substance. And regardless, going to a club or a party as an unexperienced tripper is not a good idea – any noisy or crowded setting is a potential bad trip catalyst. And if you’ve been taking note of what the mushroom can reveal, you probably won’t feel the need to party on mushrooms even as an experienced tripper.

Mushrooms are about 90% water so 2 cracker-dry grams are more-or-less equivalent to 20 grams fresh. In dry grams of psilocybe cubensis, 1g will typically induce a light buzz, and 2g is a moderate trip (though I’ve seen people get hit pretty hard by 2). 5g is the “heroic” dose recommended by McKenna, and will guarantee an intense trip for almost anybody. I suggest that you start with 1-2 grams, and work your way up to what you feel is best for you, with at least a week’s interim between trips.

There are many ways of consuming mushrooms. You can just munch them as-is. A common prescription is to do so slowly, as done in native cultures – that is, eat them over a period of 20 minutes or so. When eating them straight, however, nausea is a common problem. Some people are not susceptible at all, and some get nauseated every time without fail. Marijuana is a well-known alleviator of nausea, but you should take into account that, for most people, it intensifies the effect of psilocybin. Another common way to ingest mushrooms is the so-called “lemon tek”.  Blend the mushrooms in fresh lemon juice (or any other citrus fruit - I prefer orange juice) until they are completely disintegrated (a few seconds in most blenders), and wait 20 minutes. Then mix to homogenize and drink. This method significantly reduces nausea for many people, but some have claimed that it makes the nausea worse for them. It is a matter of dispute whether the trip is stronger when the mushrooms are consumed in citrus juice. It is certainly true that you come up faster (in about 15 minutes as opposed to an hour when eating them as-is). Another method which helps some people avoid nausea is making mushroom tea. A more exotic option is to make an alcoholic extract.



Edited by clubbase (04/08/16 11:07 AM)


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Offlinecaveman5055
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #18381610 - 06/07/13 05:52 AM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Wow!!!!!! Very nice right up!!!!!!

Hats off to you. Best first post I have ever seen lol.

Welcome.


Edited by caveman5055 (06/07/13 05:55 AM)


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Offlinetwistedty
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: caveman5055]
    #18381647 - 06/07/13 06:14 AM (5 years, 9 months ago)

great right up bro. rated +5

but you lost me at LC.

:frown:

agar is 10x better and 10x easier to use


Edited by twistedty (06/07/13 06:16 AM)


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Offlineclubbase
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: twistedty]
    #18381667 - 06/07/13 06:30 AM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Agar is better indeed, but it's considered more advanced, and I think for good reason. Most people would be more comfortable starting with the "primitive" methods and then moving up to agar when they've had a few grows under their belt.

Also in some places (like here in the 2.5nd world) agar is damn expensive (unless you buy huge quantities), and so it would deter a beginner who is not even sure about committing to this hobby.


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Offlinethe_jerk
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #18382650 - 06/07/13 01:21 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

I think the reason we're recommending Agar even though some consider it "advanced" is that you can identify rather easily weather your culture is contaminated or not....before innoc-ing jars and wasting supplies and time. Seriously though, Agar is no more work than a LC especially if you use the no-pour tek's.

Best first post I've ever seen though. Well-done!


Edited by the_jerk (06/07/13 01:21 PM)


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: the_jerk]
    #18384994 - 06/07/13 10:14 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

agar is way easier than LCs hands down.

still very nice post


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Offlineclubbase
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: twistedty]
    #18397719 - 06/10/13 04:52 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

I guess I was thinking of poor souls outside the US (like me).  I had to ride a camel for days to get to the nearest lab equipment supplier who had agar. And bandits broke almost all of my petri dishes on the way back. In the end the procedure was fun but certainly not easier than making LC. But point taken.


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #18397740 - 06/10/13 04:57 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

anytime your aiming a tek at noobs just keep it simple as possible so a fourth grader could read it. great write up though


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It doesn't matter what i think of you...all that matters is clean spawn


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: cronicr]
    #18397903 - 06/10/13 05:29 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Sweet. Bookmarked


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: Solaced]
    #18409383 - 06/12/13 06:16 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Good point about language. And I guess I should have at least mentioned agar methods with links. Challenging newcomers to be serious from the outset can't be a bad thing.


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #18409430 - 06/12/13 06:28 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

pin this mods!


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: Deathcore]
    #18409446 - 06/12/13 06:30 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

Deathcore said:
pin this mods!



:lmafo:
if you like it that much post it in the your favorites sticky


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It doesn't matter what i think of you...all that matters is clean spawn


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #18409451 - 06/12/13 06:31 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Sweet thread!


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I'll make sense when I run out of lemons. Until then I'll make lemonade.


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OfflineDeathcore
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: cronicr]
    #18409494 - 06/12/13 06:42 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Quote:

cronicr said:
Quote:

Deathcore said:
pin this mods!



:lmafo:
if you like it that much post it in the your favorites sticky




I want the WHOLE forum to know its pinned!!!11one!1


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: Deathcore]
    #18409676 - 06/12/13 07:31 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

Nice job on the Tek!


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) (moved) [Re: clubbase]
    #18409838 - 06/12/13 08:04 PM (5 years, 9 months ago)

This thread was moved from Mushroom Cultivation.

Reason:
Here ya go.  Moved to getting started.


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #19206594 - 11/29/13 11:41 PM (5 years, 3 months ago)

This thread is amazingly useful! I had to post to save in my thread list. I will be referring back to this later! I like how everything is finely-tuned and update. Very nice.


Thank you for the great info
~ LC


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #20497075 - 08/30/14 01:11 PM (4 years, 6 months ago)

thank you sir keep up the good work!


--------------------




chicken? CHE CAN SUCK THIS


Edited by shamanboyz69 (08/30/14 01:12 PM)


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Offlineketsa
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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: clubbase]
    #20519359 - 09/04/14 03:48 PM (4 years, 6 months ago)

Quote:

clubbase said:
If your room is too cold and you are thinking of heating only the FC with some contraption, as opposed to heating the whole room, I can save you some time – don’t do it.




Why ? maybe add a little explanation.
The FC being its own microclimate I do not see the problem.

Great post btw, I will study it in detail in a few days when I finally receive my spores.
Thanks.


Edited by ketsa (09/04/14 03:50 PM)


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Re: Magic mushroom growing for absolute beginners (a BRF tek for 2013) [Re: ketsa]
    #20520562 - 09/04/14 08:23 PM (4 years, 6 months ago)

Always the room not the chamber, much easier to control and avoid messes like temp swings/drying sub's ect


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It doesn't matter what i think of you...all that matters is clean spawn


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