How to grow magic mushrooms with PF-TEK method?

PF-TEK magic mushroom growing method is one of the cheapest ways to grow your own magic mushrooms at the comfort of your home, that’s why it is one of the most popular growing methods out there.

To start growing your own magic mushrooms using PF-TEK method you will need:

  • Magic mushroom spore syringe
  • Vermiculite
  • Brown rice flour (it can be rye grain, but the most popular choice is brown rice flour)
  • Clean water (distilled or similar)
  • Glass jars (~250ml mason jars with wide opening will work just fine)
  • Fruiting chamber (big tote plastic storage container with translucent top)
  • Pressure cooker or a large pot
  • Round metal rack (to fit in your pressure cooker or the pot you will be using)
  • Mixing container
  • Sturdy aluminum foil
  • Sieve
  • A big spoon
  • Misting bottle (best if you have two misting bootles – one for water and one of them is filled with alcohol sterilization spray)
  • Permanent marker
  • Sterilizing flame (alcohol lamp is the best way, but a simple lighter or butane torch will also do)
  • Based on your environment, getting some sterile gloves, antibacterial soap, a face mask, and some alcohol wipes would be a great idea (it’s not completely mandatory, but the more sterile everything will be the higher the chance of your success)

After you read all of this, you might wonder – most of this stuff seems just simple cooking tools, that’s not a problem… but what the hell is vermiculite and where I can find some? Don’t worry it’s some chemistry lab resource that is difficult to get. Vermiculate is a gardening supply, that can be found in most gardening stores (sometimes even in pet shops as cat litter). Also, don’t get scared when you touch vermiculate – it might feel like it’s some sort of plastic/rubber, but this is a misconception. It’s just a simple mineral that can be found all around the earth and there is nothing toxic about it.

We hope you got all those extra sterilization items (gloves, facemask, alcohol wipes, alcohol disinfection spray, and some antibacterial soap) because this first step is the most crucial part of the process – how sterile and clean you will be can make or break your all magic mushroom growing efforts.

Step 1 – Prepare the substrate

  • Add vermiculite to the mixing bowl (the amount you will need should be chosen according to how many jars you have – each jar will need around 3/4 of vermiculite and 1/4 brown rice flow).
  • Slowly add some water to the bowl, while stirring with the spoon. Your goal is to soak the vermiculite fully, without having any excess water in the bottom of the bowl.
  • When the vermiculate is evenly wet, try to remove any excess water in the bottom of the bowl by tipping the bowl on the side and holding vermiculite with your hand and/or spoon. If you think there is too much excess water, putting all the vermiculite in a sieve and let it drip can be a good idea. Try reaching that sweet spot where your vermiculite is fully wet, but there is no excess water around.
  • Add your brown rice flour to the pot with vermiculite. Mix it well. Your goal now is to make sure, that vermiculite and brown rice flour is mixed as good as possible – brown rice has to cover all the vermiculite evenly. This will allow the spores to have a fully colonizable and fertile substrate.
  • After your mixture is ready, carefully add it to your mason jars. Try not to tamp or apply any pressure to your substrate and keep it as fluffy as possible in order to make sure air can flow freely. Fill your jars not fully – leave at least 1 cm free from the top. Be as careful as possible not to smear inside of your jar – if that happens, clean it with a clean paper towel (sterile!!!). Any residue that will is not part of the substrate, can hold contaminants and ruin your whole jar.
  • After you filled your jars with the substrate, make sure you add an extra layer of dry vermiculite on top. This will prevent and will act as a filter against any air contamination during the inoculation process.

Step 2 – Sterilise

  • Take some foil, fold in half, and put it over your jars. Make it as tight as you can, you are trying to make a well-fitting lid for your jars. If you put metal lids before this – make sure they have ~4 tiny holes for the syringe in them (drill them before). You can put two layers of foil to make sure you covered your jars right.
  • If you are using a pressure cooker – you should add ~2-3cm of water inside it. Then stack the jars without breaking any foil, close the lid and slowly bring the pressure cooker to around 15psi. Make sure you do it slowly, to minimize the risk of jars cracking. Then lower the heat a bit and let your jars sterilize for around an hour.
  • If you are using a simple big pot – place the metal rack (stand) on the bottom of the pot, fill the pot with ~2-3cm of water. Stack your jars without tearing the foil, put the lid on, and on a low-medium heat bring the pot to the boil. Let the jars sterilize for 1.5-2 hours, the water will be running out as you do this – so make sure to top it up with preboiled kettle water every 15 minutes or so.
  • After you sterilized your jars – let them stay in the pot or pressure cooker for at least 5 hours, best practice is to just leave it overnight.

Step 3 – Inoculation

  • Wash your hands very well and sterilize your work area. During this part of the process, everything will be most susceptible to the risk of contamination, so make sure you work as sterile as you can.
  • Take the cool jars out and place them on the surface you just cleaned. Have your flame source and spore syringe ready.
  • Shake the syringe (or culture ampoule) very well, to break any spore clumps. Fill the syringe with the spores from the ampoule, if you haven’t done that yet.
  • Gently loosen the foil on top of your jars, to make sure you can remove them fast when you inoculate them.
  • Heat the needle of your syringe, thus sterilizing it – then remove the foil and place the syringe in the tiny holes of the jar lid, that you have prepared earlier. You have to penetrate through the dry vermiculite layer on top and reach the substrate.
  • Press the needle gently and inject ~0.25ml per one spot. You should innoculate each jar with ~4 spots with a total of 1-1.5ml of spores. Theoretically, you don’t need to resterilize the needle before each new hole, but you must sterilize your needle with a fire source before inoculating each new jar.
  • Put the foil lid back on, before moving to another jar and resterilize your needle with the fire source.
  • Repeat this process for each and every jar you have. Make sure you closed them good with foil after you have finished your inoculation process.
  • You can now identify (mark) your jars with the date and substrain of magic mushrooms that you have inoculated them with if feel you need to do so.

Important: The inoculation process is the part where spores are very fragile to any type of contamination, make sure to sterilize everything as good as you can – if for some reason you have to have a break or do something else, make sure you wash your hands and resterilize the area as good as you can.

Step 4 – Incubation

  • Now it’s time to be patient and wait. Store your jars in a dark place with ~21-27°C average temperature. Best results can be achieved with a stable 27°C, try to keep things warm (but not hot!) as at lower temperatures the incubation the process will be longer, plus the growth will be slower during each and every step of the cycle along the way.
  • If the conditions for the jars are perfect, you can expect to see magic mushroom mycelium life taking place in 3-6 days. What you are looking for is white, fluffy spots on the vermiculite. Mycelium looks like a thready frost in a way.
  • The key of knowing if everything is going right is the color of the mycelium – it has to be pure snow white, no other colors can be present in the jar. If you noticed that there are grey, black, green, pink, blue, or any other color present in the jar – throw it away without even opening it. Don’t risk the life of other jars by opening the lid of infected jars, dispose of them as soon as you notice that life inside the jar is not pure white.
  • If the conditions are perfect, it might take 2-4 weeks for the mycelium to fully colonize your whole jar. Fully colonized jar will mean that all the substrate inside has been taken over by white mycelium and you can barely see any uncolonized substrate anywhere in the jar.

Step 5 – Pining

  • After the jar has been fully colonized by mycelium it is time to help you magic mushrooms pin. You can keep your jars in a lower ~21°C temperature and you can expose them to light (6-12 hours/day of indirect light should be fine). Never expose your colonized substrate or magic mushrooms to direct sunlight.
  • This may vary according to the substrain of your choice, but the first pins should be seen from 5-15 up to 30 days after you have introduced sunlight. You will know that pinning started happening after you notice first tiny brown heads of mushrooms showing up.
  • Now it’s best to start the pinning process while your mycelium is still in the jar as this will lower potential risks, but you can also start the fruiting part of the growth cycle even if there are no pins visible (after you allowed your jars to get the daily light they need to start pinning).
  • If you think that there are no visible pins for too long, you can try placing your jar in the fridge overnight (make sure you put it in a plastic back to be as sterile as possible). This kind of cold shock usually helps to start the pinning process in cases where the pins are showing up for too long. If you decide to do this, you have to start the fruiting process the next day!

Step 6 – Fruiting

  • You will need a fruiting chamber for this. The most common fruiting chamber is a clear plastic storage tote box, but you can get more creative as long as one condition is fulfilled – it has to be easy for indirect light to reach your colonized “cakes”.
  • If you can, sterilize inside and outside of your fruiting chamber as good as you can before using it. Don’t forget to always wash your hands and sterilize the area before working with it.
  • Put a 1-2cm layer of perlite in the bottom of your fruiting chamber. Mist or just water the perlite, so it soaks full of humidity. Make sure you use demineralized water or at least used preboiled, lukewarm water to lower the risk of contamination.
  • Remove the lids and foil of your jars. Place them upside down (that’s why you needed wide opening jars in the first place) on the perlite. Some people like to place some sterile foil that’s roughly the size of the “cake” on top of the perlite and only place their “cakes” on top of it. It’s not really necessary, but it’s a good idea if you try to keep things as clean as possible.
  • If it’s difficult to remove the colonized mycelium from the jars, try holding the upturned jar and taping it gently. This process can get extremely difficult if you had a very spontaneous and speedy pinning phase as you should not harm the little pins. Try to loosen up the colonized substrate inside the jar as gently as you can, if nothing works – well, sterilize a knife and gently go around the inner wall of the jar. You are not trying to cut anything – you are just trying to detach the mycelium cake from the wall of the jar (use this method only as a last resort).
  • Place your cakes at least 3-5cm apart from each other as magic mushrooms will be growing from the sides of the cake and they need space to do so. Close the lid of the container and place it somewhere where there’s light throughout the day (artificial light also works), but make sure your mushrooms are not receiving any direct sunlight.
  • After you placed all the cakes inside it’s time to take care of your tiny colony. Once a day, open the lid and allow some fresh air to come in – you can fan the inside of the box a bit.
  • Each time you open the box, check the bottom layer of the box (perlite). It has to be moist all the time, because this is where your magic mushroom colony is getting all the humidity from. This means mist spray perlite if you think it’s getting dry – but make sure not to accidentally spray water on your cakes or magic mushrooms themselves, all the water has to go directly to perlite and not on to the cakes.
  • Enjoy the rapid growth of your magic mushrooms – it shouldn’t take more than 7-14 days till you can harvest them. After small mushrooms will appear, spectate them carefully as you don’t want to miss the right time to harvest them – in some perfect conditions mushrooms can grow twice their size in a matter of 24 hours.
  • After small mushrooms appear they should grow for 2-5 days before they are ready to harvest. Don’t rely on the time so much, focus on how they look – as soon as one cap of any magic mushroom tries to open itself, harvest the whole flush. Don’t try to win more by letting them grow bigger – big mushrooms usually are a lover in potency, so medium-sized magic mushrooms, just before they open up is what you are aiming for the best results.

Step 7 – Harvesting

  • When the time comes, wash your hands good and harvest mature magic mushrooms by gently twisting them. If you see any “unhealthy” looking blackish rotten mushrooms, harvest them as well – they will be small and look like didn’t develop right. You have to harvest them as well, just don’t use them – separate them and throw them away.

Step 8 – Flushes

  • Your whole harvest is called a flush. After you had your first flush – continue on taking care of your cakes in the fruiting chamber the same way (air and humidity) and you can expect around 4 more flushes to come.
  • Flushes might vary in size and potency (not radically, but there could be a tiny difference between different flushes).
  • There is one more tactic that can allow you to have better flushes after you harvested your first flush – it’s called dunking.
  • If you decide to dunk your cakes – clean your hands and take mycelium cake from the fruiting chamber. Place it in water-filled (clean or demineralized water like always)container (the size of the container has to be big enough for the cake to be fully immersed in water). Try putting something on top of the container in a way that applies pressure on your cakes, so they remain fully underwater (otherwise they will float).
  • You can place this container in the fridge for at least 12 hours, but the timing here is key as the maximum amount the cake can stay there are 24 hours if you keep the cake there for longer than that the cake might drown.
  • Gently take the cakes out and dry it with a clean paper towel. Then place it back in the fruiting chamber and continue the fruiting process as usual (air and misting the perlite). You can repeat dunking after each flush in which you think you need to.

Endnotes

It might seem like a lot of steps and information here, but actually the process of growing magic mushrooms at home is quite simple. You don’t have to have complete lab conditions to do so and just keeping things clean and sterile is key to each step. You can’t be too sterile! This method requires the lowest amounts of investment and is easy to master for any psychonaut – if you read this whole guide and think that it might be too difficult, we urge you to give a couple of days to sink in and read it again. You might realize that actually the process is quite straightforward and your dream of growing magic mushrooms at home is much easier than you thought.

Good luck and keep it sterile! ?


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