Mushroom Growing "Teks"

Psilocybin mushrooms have been revered by many cultures/societies for thousands of years. These mind-altering mushrooms grow naturally in a wide geographic range, and some species (like Psilocybe cubensis) are relatively easy to cultivate indoors. P. cubensis mushrooms are less mycorrhizal than most other Psilocybe species, and therefore can be cultured and grown in several different grain-based mediums (other mushroom species require wood to grow on).

 

Because Psilocybe cubensis mushrooms grow in a variety of mediums, cultivators around the world have developed several different “techniques” (nicknamed “Teks”) to grow magic mushrooms. Each Tek has strengths and drawbacks, and which one you choose to follow will depend on the scale of your operation, your level of mycology experience, and how much you are willing to invest in growing equipment/supplies. 


Regardless of which Tek one decides to use, Sterility is the most important protocol to adhere to during your mushroom growing project. This cannot be stressed enough. When growing mushrooms, you create the ideal environment for fungi to grow. Unfortunately, this environment is also ideal for bacteria or other unwanted species of Fungi to grow and spread. Therefore you must pay close attention to the sterility of surfaces one works on and the tools and materials used.

 

It is always a good idea to have isopropyl alcohol and disinfectant on hand in the cultivation area so that one can properly sterilize surfaces and tools before performing mycology tasks. We also recommend always using personal protective equipment (PPE) including surgical masks, gloves, and hairnets when in the cultivation space. We also recommend wearing clean, freshly-laundered clothes in the cultivation area and practicing good hygiene in general to reduce contamination.

PF TEK

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Materials Required for the PF Tek include:

 

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Fruiting PF Cake

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Inoculating PF Cake

Robert "Billy" Macpherson

AKA Psilocybe Fanaticus

First introduced in 1992, the PF Tek was developed by a cultivator named Robert McPherson and it is one of the simplest methods for growing Psilocybe mushrooms. This Tek is the best choice for the beginner cultivator since it requires relatively common tools and materials. This tek typically has a high success rate, and will supply a beginner cultivator with the basic skills, knowledge, and experience needed should he/she decide to pursue more complex Teks later on.

The general process to complete the PF Tek involves a few steps, namely preparing the substrate, sterilizing the substrate, inoculating the substrate with a spore syringe (or liquid culture syringe), incubating, birthing the culture, and fruiting. 


Preparing the substrate involves mixing two parts vermiculite with one part distilled water THEN mixing in one part brown rice flour. One must then fill a clean glass jar with the prepared substrate, leaving about ½ an inch of room below the rim for dry vermiculite to act as a contamination barrier. Jars can then be sealed and placed in a pressure cooker for sterilization. Jars should be sterilized at 15PSI for 60 minutes. Once the pressure cooker has cooled down, one can inoculate his/her jars by injecting the contents of a spore syringe into the jars. The jars can then be left to incubate in a warm (73-78F), dark place until mycelial growth has completely covered the substrate.

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Uncolonized PF Jar

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Colonized PF Jar

At this point, the colonized substrate can be “birthed” out of the jar. Since the PF Tek uses brown rice flour as an ingredient in the substrate, the substrate should compact on its own, and come out of the jar quite easily. The final step of this Tek is to place one’s colonized substrate “cakes” in a relatively humid, warm (73-78F) environment, wait for the cakes to fruit, and harvest mushrooms as required.

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PF cake beginning to fruit

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PF cake fruiting

This Tek is a simple and inexpensive Tek which makes it great for beginner cultivators. However, this Tek results in lower yields, smaller mushrooms, and more labour in relation to how much product it produces.

Spawn + Bulk Substrate TEK

Supplies required for the Spawn + Bulk Tek include:

 

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The Spawn + Bulk Substrate Tek is an intermediate-advanced level Tek that involves taking a container that has been fully colonized with mycelium (mushroom spawn) and adding a hydrated, high-nutrient fruiting substrate (bulking with substrate) -

Adding a nutrient dense and high water-retention substrate results in a greater yield of mushrooms (as mushroom fruiting bodies are mostly water). This Tek requires several steps, including preparing/inoculating the spawn, preparing the substrate, inoculating the substrate with the spawn, incubating the substrate, and fruiting.

To prepare spawn, begin by soaking the rye grain for 24hrs, heat flashing, drying, then adding the rye grain to the colonization container, sterilizing, and then injecting the contents of a spore/LC syringe into the colonization container. The container can then be left in a warm (73-78F), dark place until mycelial growth has completely covered the grain.

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An uncolonized grain jar

A partially colonized grain jar

A fully colonized grain jar

Next, to prepare the substrate, mix coconut coir, vermiculite, worm castings, Calcium Carbonate, peat moss and distilled water in a large tub until “field capacity” is reached. Field capacity simply means the medium is fully hydrated. Next, sterilize this medium in a pressure cooker for 120 minutes at 15PSI, or pasteurize in an oven at 180F for 6 hours.


To inoculate the fruiting medium with your spawn, take the clean plastic tote and place it inside of a large garbage bag. Next examine each jar of spawn to ensure there is no contamination present, and combine the spawn with the sterilized/pasteurized fruiting medium at a ratio of 25% spawn to 75% fruiting medium (or close to that).

 

Mix the two mediums well, and lightly tamp the surface to make it as flat as possible. Then put a flat, sealable lid on the tray, and incubate in a warm (73-78F), dark place until the surface of the tray is completely white with mycelium. 

A fruiting tray w/incubation lid

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A fully colonized fruiting tray

Once the fruiting substrate is fully incubated you are now ready to trigger fruiting by changing the environmental conditions. The three major changes you will make are the humidity level, the light schedule, and the amount of airflow. 

 

These changes mimic the natural environmental changes that cause mushrooms to pin. 

To trigger fruiting  you should switch from a constantly dark environment to a 12/12 light cycle (12 hours light 12 hours dark). Any light spectrum will work, however slightly “cooler” lighting between 6000 and 7000 Kelvin is ideal.

You will also need to switch the lid of the fruiting tray/tub/tote for a “fruiting dome” to allow more airflow to the mushroom culture. Usually using the same tray/tub/tote as you built the fruiting substrate in, flipped upside down works well. Cut a 2” hole in each corner of the dome and stuff this hole with Hi-loft Polyfil. This serves as a barrier for particulate matter/contaminants but allows airflow.

Finally, the humidity in your tray/tub/tote environment should also be raised. Accomplish this by misting the surface of the fruiting substrate daily, or whenever there is NO humidity build up on the sides of the fruiting dome. Set your sprayer to create as fine of a mist as possible. You do not want large droplets or pools of water on the surface of the fruiting substrate. 

 

After approximately 7-10 days in these conditions small Primordia or “pins” will form. These will quickly grow into mature fruiting bodies within 3-5 days. You should cease misting the surface of the fruiting substrate once pins begin to show, but still try and keep the humidity as high as possible in the tray/tub/tote. You can do this by misting the sides of the dome (instead of directly misting the surface of the substrate).

A fruiting tray w/dome lid

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Primordia (pins) beginning to form

The Spawn + Bulk Substrate Tek involves more steps, requires more supplies, and therefore has a higher risk of contamination, however by combining the spawn with the extra water/nutrients in the fruiting medium, a higher volume of mixture is created, which results in higher yields.

Check out our "Learning the Basics" page for a more in-depth tutorial on this tek.

"Uncle Ben's" TEK

Supplies required for the Uncle Ben's Tek include:

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One of the newest Teks that has been developed is the Uncle Ben’s Tek. This Tek is a great choice for beginner cultivators as it requires minimal materials, is inexpensive, and is resistant to contamination. Furthermore, this Tek can be used to prepare spawn for use in the spawn + bulk substrate Tek. The main steps involved in this Tek include inoculating a bag of rice to create spawn, mixing the inoculated spawn with a sterilized substrate for a bulk grow, and incubating the bulk substrate.

To inoculate the bag of Uncle Bens rice, you should first put on PPE and wipe down one’s work area, bag of rice, and knife/scalpel with isopropyl alcohol to prevent contamination. Then simply cut a small slit in the top corner of the bag of rice, insert the spore/LC syringe into the slit, inject 5-10mL's of spore solution, and cover the slit with micro-pore tape

 

To further reduce the chance of contamination at this step, one could build a Still Air Box (SAB) and perform this task inside the SAB, or in front of a laminar flow hood, though this is not absolutely necessary. The bags of rice can then be left in a warm (73-78F), dark place to colonize. You should also check the bags regularly to ensure contamination is not present, and remove any bags showing signs of contamination from the cultivation space.

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Partially colonized Uncle Bens bag

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Fully colonized Uncle Bens bag

Once the rice has been completely colonized with mycelium, the next step is to prepare the substrate medium (usually a mixture of coconut coir, vermiculite, worm castings, Calcium Carbonate, peat moss, and distilled water). Next, sterilize this medium in a pressure cooker for 120 minutes at 15PSI, or pasteurize in an oven at 180F for 6 hours.


To inoculate the fruiting medium with your spawn, take the clean plastic tote and place it inside of a large garbage bag. Next, examine each bag of spawn to ensure there is no contamination present, and combine the spawn with the sterilized/pasteurized fruiting medium at a ratio of 30% spawn to 70% fruiting medium. Mix the two mediums well, and lightly tamp the surface to make it as flat as possible. Then put a lid on the tray, and incubate in a warm (73-78F), dark place until the surface of the tray is completely white with mycelium. To trigger fruiting, one will simply have to adjust the humidity, O2/CO2 levels, and light schedule of the environment that the tray is in.

A fruiting tray w/incubation lid

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A fully colonized fruiting tray

This Tek is extremely easy and low cost, and is the perfect method to try for beginner cultivators. Despite its inexpensiveness, this Tek can produce excellent yields if the spawn is bulked with a fruiting medium. It should also be noted that this Tek is relatively new and therefore there are currently few reviews about the potency, yield, and consistency of mushrooms grown using this Tek.