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			    Psilly Simon's 
			Mushroom Growin' Guide II

I have tried several methods to grow mushrooms and have run into problems with 
all of them.  The Oss & Oeric Method is good but the instructions can be
confusing at times. I have found the "rice cake" method to also be very
fruitless as I could not force any of the jars to actually produce mushrooms. 
Eating the mushroomless rice cakes didnt do anything but taste bad.  What is 
needed is a set of step-by-step instructions that will lead to mushroom 
production. Mushrooms are not that hard to grow. You only need to know exactly 
what to do and when. I have put together this list of instructions to make the
process a little clearer and more efficient to promote a higher chance of 
success.  The key to growing is in sterility, patience and meticulousness. 
Out of my twelve jars only four were contaminated and Ive killed cacti!
The basic idea is never to leave the jars uncovered for more than an instant.
It is very easy to keep things sterile and grow successfuly if you use your 

The whole process is a combination of the rice cake and the Oss & Oeric methods 
and takes about six weeks. The main difference from the Oss & Oeric (O&O)
method is that the spores are dropped directly on the rye medium instead of
cultivating them on agar first.  The reason for the agar step is to increase
sterility and ensure only one strain of dikaryotic mycellum permeates the rye.
However, with the direct spore method many strains are forced to fight it out
in the rye allowing the strongest to dominate the jar and fruit.  I have had no 
sterility problems with direct spore innoculation as long as a relatively 
sterile commercial spore print is used.

There have been a few changes made to the MGG since the first one. Most are just
simple ways to keep things sterile without having to build a sterile box. All
of the equipment and the print should not cost any more than $100US.

	Pressure canner: capable of sustaining 15 pounds. Size doesnt matter
			 as long as you can do all the jars eventually. Canners
			 which can hold 4 quart sized jars are avaliable at 
			 Caldor/Sears/Ames or any other sizeable housewares
			 store for about $40US.
	12 wide mouthed, quart sized canning jars: During canning season these
			 can be found at any grocery store.  In the off season
			 they are harder to find. Check some larger hardware &
			 Housewares stores or flea markets. 
	Spore print: FS Books has good prints. Check High Times for the address.
	1200 ml whole grain rye: not animal feed! get it at a health food store.
			 Rye is better than rice because rice gumms up the sides 
			 of the jars so you cant see whats growing inside it.
	1 bag planting soil: peat moss/pearlite/vermacilite mixure only(no dirt)
	Styrofoam cooler: large enough to hold all the jars
	Transparent/translucent plastic panel: You can either use plexiglass
		or good hardware stores carry panels to cover flourescent
		lighting units.  These can be cut with scissors easily.
	Lysol spray
	Sandwich sized zip Lock Bags
	Anti-bacterial soap
	Heavy duty zircon encrusted tweezers (Zappa joke.Any tweezers will do :)
	Scraper: xacto knifes work well
	Flame source: lighter, alcohol lamp, etc. (candles burn dirty. Dont use)
	Saran wrap & tin foil
	1 gallon Distilled water
	Water spray bottle
1) Wash the jars with antibacterial soap. Use a dishwasher too if you have it.
   It is not necessary to get real sterile just yet, just be neat.
2) To 3 canning jars add 100 ml rye and 175ml distilled water. Close the jar
   with the lid upside-down. The lids will remain upside down throughout their
   use. Keep the dome loose but secure.
3) In a clean container mix some soil with distilled water until it is spongy
   to the touch and does not leek any water.  The soil should be wet but not
   liquidy. You want "moist soil" not mud. Mix enough of the soil to loosely 
   fill a canning jar. Do not pack the soil in, just drop it in the jar till 
   its full. Screw the lid on loosely but securely.

4) Place the 3 rye jars and the soil jar into the canner. If you can fit
   more than 4 jars in there go ahead, it will save you time. Just remember
   to prepare 1 jar of soil for every 3-4 jars of rye.  Follow the directions
   for the canner to sterilize the jars at 15 pounds for one full hour. If you 
   can, it is a good idea to let the steam build up a bit before closing the
   pressure valve. It is not necessary to use distilled water in the canner.
5) When its done let the canner cool to room temperature. When it is safe to 
   handle you can remove the jars and let them cool seperately.  JARS MUST
   where clean and tighten the lid. Lightly shake the rye jars to loosen the 

6) Repeat steps 2-5 until all the jars are done. You should have 1 jar of 
   sterile soil for each 3-4 jars of sterile rye.
7) Heres the tricky part. Most people complain about contamination but if you
   use this method to innoculate the jars you wont find it a problem.  I used
   this procedure with my last batch of 12 jars and NONE of them were 
   contaminated!  The trick is to open the jar lids as little as possible for
   as short a period of time as possible. Also, try not to stand over the jars
   when they are briefly cracked open.
   a) Take a shower. Clean off a desk or table and sponge it with antibacterial 
      soap. Spray it with lysol. Screw off the domes but leave the lids on. 
      Wash your hands again with antibacterial soap.
   b) Ready the spore print. DO NOT TAKE IT OUT OF THE BAG!!! Flame the scraper
      and the tweezers until they glow then let them cool. The tweezers are 
      used to hold open the bag while the scraper collects spores. The spore 
      print never leaves its bag though. Dont spray lysol near open flames!
   c) When a visible clump of spores have been scraped off quickly carry them 
      on the scraper to a jar. Anything you can see is thousands of spores. It 
      doesnt take much.  Crack open the jar just enough for the scraper to 
      enter and drop in the spores. Close the lid and screw on the dome firmly. 
      The lid should have only been cracked open for about 2 seconds; not 
      enough to contaminate it. When all the jars are innoculated shake them 
      until all the rye is loose and the spores are distributed. Loosen the 

8) Place the rye jars in the styro-cooler, close the lid and wait. It takes 
   about 1-2 weeks for the mycellum (fuzz) to permeate the jars. Small clumps 
   of white fuzz will appear in the jars. When the growth is about 50% permeated
   shake the jars and let the fuzz grow again. I have found the Ott & Oss ratio 
   of rye to water to be far too dry and take twice as long as 100 ml to 175ml.
   This also uses less rye so the jars are permeated faster. It usually takes 
   ten days. If, at any point, you see any non-white fuzz or non-rye gunk in 
   the jar then it is contaminated. Dump it out. Theres no hope for it and it 
   is not healthy to ingest. It could be fatal or worse. Be merciless. Thats 
   why you did 12 jars, so you could sacrifice a few if necessary. Regular
   room temperature is fine for the whole growth cycle but dont keep them next
   to heaters or air conditioning. Although several sources suggest keeping the
   temperature at 85 degrees (f) room temperature is fine. 
9) When all the jars are ready take them out of the cooler. At this point you
   need to get 1.5-2 inches of the sterile soil onto the rye. This is called
   "casing". There are two ways to do this without sacrificing sterility:
   1: You can turn the cooler sideways, cover the inside and the opening with 
      saran wrap, and cut two holes in the saran wrap over the opening to make 
      a sterile work box. You can then transfer the soil to each jar in the box
      using the holes for your antibacterial soap washed hands. Wash the spoon
      you use to transfer the soil after every jar so that contaminates dont
      transfer from jar to jar.
   2: Close the rye jar lid tightly. Wash the outside of the lid with 
      antibacterial soap and Lysol. Do the same with a soil jar. Take the
      dome part off of the jars but leave the lids on. Turn the soil jar
      upside down holding the lid on and place it on top of the rye jar.
      the lids should be facing against each other. Spray the area with
      Lysol then carefully slide the two lids away letting some soil fall 
      through into the rye jar. Be careful not to let too much fall in.
      It may not be necessary to slide the lids all the way off to get the
      dirt to fall in.  Slide the lids back on when the rye is covered.

10) Cut the plastic panel to fit over the cooler. Wash and lysol the panel.
   Wrap each jar with tin foil up to the top of the soil.  Remove each lid
   and at the same time place a zip lock bag over the opening.  The opening 
   of the bag should cover the opening of the jar.  This way air can get in
   but it is still covered.  The jars can be easily aerated by sliding the
   bag up and down over the jar slowly. Jars can be wattered by sticking
   the nozzle of the spray bottle in under the edge of the bag.  This way
   the jar is never uncovered. Place all the bag covered jars in the cooler
   and keep the cooler in a clean location.  I have found that these bags
   and sterilized soil are the key to sterility.  The plastic lid really
   does not keep that much out. each time you open it all kinds of dust floats
   in.  I have had NO sterility problems on jars which were bagged and used
   sterilized soil.  NEVER take the bag off any more than just enough to stick
   the nozzle of the spray jar in there.  Aerate the jars as described slowly
   so dust doesnt get sucked into the jar.

11) At this point the jars will need to be sprayed with distilled water daily.
   You dont want it to be too wet though. After a week or so you should see
   the mycellum begin to clump together at the edges of the jar. They should
   clump together even more in the next week as they grow into the soil. Keep
   these misted with a fine spray of water. If they grow too thick you should
   spray them a little heavier to knock them down. Dont spray the soil too
   much as you might invite other molds. In two weeks from casing the mycellum 
   from the rice cake will have grown through the soil and may start to break 
   through the top of the soil. If this happens spray the soil a *little* more
   to knock them down. The cooler should get about 12-13 hours of light a day 
   through the lid. Ambient room light is fine. Keep it out of the direct 
   sunlight so it doesnt get too hot. Be on the lookout for any mold in the
   jars and be prepared to immediately remove them from the cooler. Mold can
   be very hard to spot so be meticulous. The most common molds to look
   out for are a green mold and a yellowish slime.  If a jar is contaminated
   carefully check the jars it was sitting next to. They may be contaminated
   as well.  For this reason it is a good idea to space the jars as far apart
   as possible in the cooler. Dont try to salvage contaminated jars; it wont
   work.  If contamination is found wash off all the outsides jars with
   anti-bacterial soap, change the tin foil, and spray the cooler and lid
   with lysol before replacing the good jars. 
12) The first flush of mushrooms should appear in about 2-3 weeks after casing.
   each jar will continue to produce mushrooms for 40-60 days.  Pinheads start 
   off as tiny white dots and grow into what looks like miniature mushrooms with
   brown heads and thich stalks in a day or two.  Shrooms grow from pinheads to 
   full mushrooms in about a week. When the rim of the cap seperates from the 
   stalk it is ready to harvest. Use tweezers to grab the base of the stalk and 
   wiggle it out. It is also a good idea to fill the hole that is left with new 
   casing soil. This will make the jars fruit longer. Pinheads may form 
   below the soil near the glass and never break through to the surface. These 
   can be removed and the hole filled with casing soil.  After the first flush
   of mushrooms has grown and the block of rye has pulled away from the sides of
   the jar O&O advise digging out the casing soil and recasing the whole thing.
   Ive never done this but it supposedly makes the jar fruit longer.
   There are some changes which you will notice in the jar as it grows.  You 
   should expect these things to happen if the shrooms are healthy. These are
   some major changes in order of occurence along with some other random
   1: After casing ropy runners will appear near the edge of the glass in the
      casing soil.  These will darken in color into a yellowish brown as they
      mature.  Dont mistake this for some kind of infection.  I think it is
      just the color of the nutrients which the runners are carrying throughout
      the jar.  Runners in the rye will stay white. 
   2: Some pinheads will grow deeper in the jar despite the tin foil wrap.
      They seem to have no idea which way is up. Dont worry about it. If you
      dig in there trying to remove them youll probably contaminate the jar.
      Most likely they'll stop growing and revert back to ordinary mycellum.
   3: When the mushrooms first grow they will appear to be thick.  When they are
      ready to open the stalk near the cap will shrink and the cap will get a 
      little bulbous (fast and bulbous :) This is normal. Your mushrooms are
      not wasting away they are supposed to ger thinner.
   4: I *think* I have noticed a subtle difference in the way mushrooms respond
      to light. They *seem* to grow taller in the dark and thicker in the light.
      I may just be hallucinating though ;) 
   5: There will be a thin line of darkening where the cap meets the veil just 
      before the veil tears open.  I think this is due to bruising.  Shrooms
      stain blue when bruised. The streaching veil must bruise the edge of the
      cap a little.
   6: Most of the mushrooms grow near the edges of the jar.  Some even grow on
      the jar itself!  If clumps of white mycellum grow on the jar above the
      soil leave them alone. Some of the best mushrooms come from them.
   7: If the mycellum really overgrow the top of the soil I have found it
      very successful to just add another inch of casing soil.  This may not
      be necessary but it works for me.
So there it is. There are some good instructions on how to dry mushrooms 
without heat at, 
although I have not tried it yet. Basically you put dry rice on a tray, cover 
them with a paper towel, lay one layer of mushrooms on the paper towel, and 
cover them with another paper towel. Then keep the whole thing in the fridge 
for a while until the rice leeches out all the water. My guess is that you can
just bury them in rice and put them in the fridge. Dosage is 50g wet weight
and 5g dry weight aggording to O&O. A US penny weighs about 2.5g - build a scale
and weigh them. Its about 2-3 fresh shrooms.  Fresh shrooms are more potent
than dried ones since the heat breaks down the goodies.  This is why the rice
& fridge method might be better.  You can make spore prints on lens cleaning
paper which is sold in any drug store. Just cut a square and leave the cap
on it for a day. Do it on a sterile surface and cover it with something clean
(like a clean drinking glass). Store the print in a zip lock baggie and keep
it cool and dry (dont freeze it though).  

Send questions to: (Psilly Simon)