This is intended to be an introductory medium to the process of cultivating a relationship between you and your food/medicines. We wholeheartedly recommend doing your own independent research and find local mycologists to help you get hands-on experience with some of these processes.
I am a entheogen researcher and Co-Founder of Hyphae Labs, curators of the Psilocybin Cup, now the Hyphae Cup, and Founding Board Member of the non-profit Entheogen Genome (Entheome) Foundation. I have worked closely with all levels of the mushroom lifecycle, from spore to spirit.
You are an aspiring mycologist, eagerly devouring any information you can around mushrooms and their cultivation.
The right fungal friend that fits! They are more than just another crop, they are more like livestock, and can take care of themselves just as much as need intensive care. Do your research and ask around! Remember it is best to approach with 'Know' not 'No'!
YOUR NEW FRIENDS
The mushroom lifecycle: 1) spores get dropped and germinate into 2) hyphae which form clamp connections with eachother to form 3) primordial knots which generate 4) pins of mushrooms which then grown and 5) open their veil so they can then proceed to 6) drop spores. Image supplied by Seth W of MycoRising.
The biggest components one needs understand for cultivation:
1) Substrate: The substance mycelium/mushroom not only eats as nutrients but grows on for structure.
2) Genetics: What strain you are working with, its lineage, ecosystem of origin, and virility.
3) Sterility: How clean you can keep both your workspace and culture space.
Going out of your way to keep the spaces you plan on working in clean is crucial to indoor mycology work! Clean surfaces and hands with diluted bleach solutions and Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA), waiting in between each step for the space to dry and not bringing new items into the space when cleaned unless you are using them.
Sterility & Aseptic Technique
You are the largest source of contamination to your cultivation. Everything time you touche a surface you are both receiving and giving off microbes. Do your best to not only keep your space clean, but your tools and yourself as well! Remember, the largest threat of contamination is you!
The first steps towards effective mushroom cultivation comes from learning a number of different skills that are seemingly opposing but utterly necessary for success: getting dirty and learning how to get very clean. Keeping your workspace clean is key to utilizing higher yield/difficulty cultivation techniques.
Aseptic technique, also known as sterile technique, are crucial skills that will decrease the amount of contamination you bring into the workspace, and will thus decrease the amount of contamination you see in you cultivation efforts.
& Liquid Cultures
Suspensions of either mycelia or spores in nutrient poor liquids. Used as a way to inoculate substrates.
Sharps and their disposal are a big part of mycology, if you do not plan on going a reusable rout of sterilization be sure to know proper waste planning!
The most 'scientific' and fun part of cultivation, moderate to advanced skillsets needed, but once achieved a large world of fun processes opens up!
TOOLS OF CULTIVATION
Familiarizing yourself with any number of different products needed to successfully cultivate mushrooms on any scale is part of the first steps to becoming and amateur mycologist!
& SPray bottles
If cleaning the workspace has not be stressed enough, lets stress it again! Reusable gloves and bottles are great, but be sure to refresh the cleaning solutions (Alcohol and Dilute Bleach) to ensure their effectiveness!
Some mushrooms can be fruited in your kitchen, others require specific and controlled fruiting conditions, still others require guardianship. Be aware of not only if there are local varietals available for your own cultivation, but where and who you are gathering you supplies from! Protect yourself and your food/medicine with the right amount of discretion and research. As previously stated, we recommend finding local cultivators to learn from and aid in your educational process. Mycelia do not form mushrooms unless they bind with other mycelia, reach out and grow your community!
Growing out of brown rice flower bags from the super market. This method is not only one of the easiest to perform as it requires only a syringe of spores/liquid culture and can be easily done in a sequestered clean space. Some folks like to transfer this inoculated substrate into a shoe box sized plastic bin with substrate for higher yields.
Also known as 'PF' Tek, is a simple stove-top sterilization method that uses brown rice flower and vermiculite in a mason jar. This is one of the lowest yield methods, but uses a lot of recyclable goods and can be a great challenge for amateur cultivators. A number of cultivators use this as an in-between step for bag tek or monotub tek, but can function fine for fruiting on its own as well!
Approaches to Cultivation
There are many forms of cultivation you can come across, from re-wilding a patch of substrate to personal indoor cultivation. Most people start out doing easier methods like the Uncle Ben's Tek or fruit from a bag; there is no right or wrong way to cultivate, do some homework and figure out which one would work best for you, your schedule, and your environment!
Self fruiting bags, or Bag Tek is another approach to home cultivation. This takes a few more ingredients (which vary from simple Coco Coir, Vermiculite, & Gypsum, to manure or wood chip additions). A number of different approaches can be utilized, but it might be best to find a purveyor of substrates and use their pre-sterilized bag products!
This requires being able to cultivate in any of the previous methods. Instead of letting the previous method go to fruit on its own, you can break up that mycelium and use it to inoculate a larger bin of substrate. A lot of work is required on the front end to make a proper monotub, but if you're adventurous enough to try and make a still air box, then this is a good skill test for any journeyman mycologist!
The Hypocrea jecorina (Trichoderma reesei) hypercellulolytic mutant RUT C30 lacks a 85 kb (29 gene-encoding) region of the wild-type genome - Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/DIC-images-of-spore-germination-of-H-jecorina-grown-in-liquid-medium-with-1-glucose_fig8_5231125 [accessed 29 Sep, 2022]