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A Short Note on the Home Cultivation of
Panaeolus subbalteatus
by John Allen
Original reference:   Allen, John. "A Short Note on the Home Cultivation of Panaeolus subbalteatus" Psychedelic Illuminations, 5: 1994; 32-33.

Panaeolus subbalteatus, a coprophilous [dung-inhabiting] species, also grows well in other habitats including: lawns, haystacks, compost heaps, at racetracks and at riding stables in stable shavings of woodchips, hay and manure. It has a cosmopolitan distribution and is a warm weather mushroom.

During the early 1900's, this species was often referred to as the "weed Panaeolus." It was a common occurrence in beds of the commercially grown grocery store mushroom Agaricus campestris. Because of its inebriating properties the mushroom cultivators had to weed it out from the edible mushrooms, hence the term "weed Panaeolus."

This species may be cultivated in vitro at home by using the simplest of techniques and methods described in this paper. This can be accomplished by the novice mushroom enthusiast without the use of any kind of expensive laboratory equipment. However, I do recommend that the potential grower obtain a copy of The Mushroom Cultivator by Paul Stamets and Jeff Chilton before attempting to grow mushrooms at home. A second book which is out of print, but sometimes may be purchased at a used book store, is by the late Dr. Steven H. Pollock titled "Magic Mushroom Cultivation." This out of print book describes methods for growing Panaeolus subbalteatus. Two other mushroom growing manuals written for psychedelic enthusiasts are Bob Harris' "Growing Wild Mushrooms" and Oss and Oeric's fine guide "The Psilocybin Growers Guide." These growing manuals will aid the intrepid experimenter in producing a fine crop of the sacred fungi. I will now describe two methods for growing mycelia for the propagation of Panaeolus subbalteatus and two growing methods for producing abundant crops of fruiting bodies. One method for producing the mycelium is more difficult than the other, however, do not be discouraged by these differences in approaches to cultivation.

The first method requires producing mycelia from a sporeprint. There are several companies who have available, sporeprints for Panaeolus subbalteatus. Advertisements for sporeprints may be found in such publications as High Times Magazine and the English publication Home Grown. I would like to recommend that the beginners obtain their spores from a Seattle based company known as "Shroom King" which has a monthly advertisement in High Times magazine. Sporeprints are usually available for $5 to $10 per print. A second method for obtaining a sporeprint is from fresh mushrooms as they occur in their own natural habitat.

Panaeolus subbalteatus grows abundantly during the early spring and early fall months, after heavy rainfalls, in the Pacific Northwest; especially in Oregon state. They are also common in Northern California and Washington. The Willamette valley of Oregon is hay country and huge bales of hay are usually visible to the human eye while driving down local highways and country roads throughout this region of Oregon. The bales are usually stacked in tiers of four large bales and rows of these bales extend up to 200 yards in length. From early February through May and from late August through September, one may find large fruitings of Panaeolus subbalteatus growing abundantly along Highway 99 West and Highway 99 East in Oregon between Eugene and Corvalis. This area is an excellent location for the collecting spores and fresh specimens. Haystacks are visible along both of these highways.

A sporeprint may be obtained by two different methods of extraction. First you must make a sporeprint by cutting the stem of the mushroom from off of the cap and placing it so the gill-plates are face down on a clean sheet of white paper. Then place a glass jar over the mushroom cap so that the spores will settle directly beneath the mushroom cap. After twenty minutes, remove the jar and lift the cap from off of the paper. Mushrooms belonging to the genus Panaeolus and Copelandia will produce a sporeprint that will be jet black.

Another method for obtaining spores is to use a swab stick and a culture tube. With the cotton end of the swab stick, gently rub the cotton end along the gill-plates of the mushroom cap. The spores will adhere to the cotton. Next place the cotton end of the stick into a slanted culture tube. This is a very sterile method for collecting spores from their natural habitat.

Once you have obtained a sporeprint you need a good supply of petri plates, an inoculating loop, and a good supply of ready made agar. These items may be obtained from a local hobby shop or any chemical supply company. Agar is the primary medium for growing the mycelium. Methods for the manufacture of agar are provided in any of the above mushroom growing manuals.

Be sure to always wear surgical or rubber gloves when working with your agar and spore transfers and be sure that your growing environment is clean and sterile. You can sterilize your inoculating loop with a flame from a torch or cigarette lighter. Once they have been sterilized, rub the sterilized tip of the inoculating loop into your spore sample and then transfer the spores into the agar. The second method is to take the spores from a swab stick stored in a culture tube and transfer the swab stick into a second slanted culture tube containing pre-made agar.

Eventually the spores will mate and grow into a fine fluffy and cottony patch of pure white fuzzy mycelium. After the mycelium has spread throughout the agar, patches of the mycelium can be transferred into a growing medium made of rotted hay or pasteurized wheat straw. Methods for pasteurizing wheat straw can be found in Stamets and Chilton's The Mushroom Cultivator.

The second method for the extraction of mycelium is to use the cap of a freshly picked mushroom not more than 20 hours old. You can produce a culture from the caps of a fresh mushroom which is composed of pure mycelium. This method will provide the prospective grower with a bypass system for producing the mycelium without the use of agar.

First wipe clean the cap of the mushroom using a cotton swab which has been sterilized in lysol. Let the lysol evaporate. Next, using an exacto-blade which has been sterilized with an open flame, cut the skin of the mushroom cap open and peel back the outer skin to expose the inner tissue of the mushroom. Cut away a triangular section from out of the top center of the mushroom cap. Once this has been accomplished, you can proceed to inoculate the section of mushroom into the center of a petri plate with agar. You may also inoculate sections of the exposed mushroom tissue into cultivated boxes of pasteurized wheat straw or into bales of rotted hay. For maximum growth it would be best to use pasteurized wheat straw and only the Panaeolus subbalteatus mushrooms will appear.

For the outdoor propagation of Panaeolus subbalteatus you must bring home to your garden, bales of rotted hay in which fresh specimens of Panaeolus subbalteatus are already growing. You can place your bales of hay side by side in your back yard or you may wish to shred and then scatter the shredded hay about over a large area in your back yard. When your mushrooms are fruiting, you may wish to place several new bales in and around where the old bales are. This will allow the spores from the old bales to spread into the new ones. For a maximum growth, repeat this process every summer. When the early spring and fall rains come, your garden will have produced a good abundant crop of mushrooms.

Indoor production of either Panaeolus subbalteatus and the related species Copelandia cyanescens can be accomplished in a similar manner by using small starter trays instead of outdoor garden bed boxes. Mycelium can also be obtained from the rotted bales of hay. Using rubber gloves you can collect fresh mycelium from haystacks where your mushrooms are growing and then infused the mycelium into mason jars of sterilized rye grain. This is a working method for producing spawn. Fresh material collected from hay or manure may also be mixed with pasteurized wheat straw and these two mixtures, mycelium and wheat straw provide a perfect symbiotic relationship for producing your mushrooms.

When indoors, humidity should register at least 90 degrees with a temperature of at least 80 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. A spawn run can be as long as 7 to 12 days when grown in vitro. Types of casing to be used are optional, but peat moss mixed with dolomite works quite effectively. Spread the peat moss in layers over the top of the wheat straw; but not more than an inch to an inch and a half thick.

Your mushrooms which will grow should be incubated in the dark. When they start to appear, primordial formations will began to form and grow when the humidity hits 95 degrees plus % and the air temperature reaches 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Grow lights are a necessity because they seem to emit the right amount of light that is necessary for the spawning to fruit.

When cropping time approaches, the humidity should average somewhere between 85 to 92%, and the room temperature should not exceed more than from 75 to 80 degrees fahrenheit. This is the best air temperature for the successful cultivation of Panaeolus subbalteatus.

The mushrooms should be harvested when the caps are expanded to a plane position. Pollock mentioned that he had successfully cultivated both Panaeolus subbalteatus and Copelandia cyanescens by using pasteurized wheat straw as a growing medium.

Dosage for Panaeolus subbalteatus is one to two fresh ounces wet weight and from two to five grams dried for an ecstatic and visual experience.

I wish the reader much good luck and a most happy shroom crop.

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