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growing psilocybe cyanescens outdoors

Outdoor mushroom cultivation

This guide is provided for informational and educational purposes only. We do not encourage you to break the law and cannot claim any responsibility for your actions.

This preparation is intended to be a general outdoor cultivation guide that can be applied across many species. This is for informational purposes only. It is up to an individual to understand the laws in their area concerning mushroom cultivation.

Not all mushrooms need to be grown indoors. Mushrooms were around far before anyone even thought about contamination and many species did just fine.

Basically, a grain spawn is prepared, pasteurized, or sterilized. Substrate is inoculated with this grain spawn indoors and then the colonized substrate is used to inoculate an outdoor substrate bed located in a shady spot. If the bed is kept moist, a fruiting will occur within as little as three weeks. However, it often can take quite a bit longer so patience is key.

Contents

  • 1 Materials
    • 1.1 Colonized Spawn
    • 1.2 Substrate
      • 1.2.1 Wood Chips
      • 1.2.2 Cow/Horse Manure
        • 1.2.2.1 Sourcing
        • 1.2.2.2 Leaching and Drying
        • 1.2.2.3 Preparing for spawning
      • 1.2.3 Straw
    • 1.3 Other Equipment
  • 2 Setting Up
    • 2.1 Area
  • 3 Procedure
    • 3.1 Grow Box
    • 3.2 Garden Patch
    • 3.3 Notes
  • 4 Sources

Materials

Colonized Spawn

100% colonization is necessary regardless of the original spawn. A simple way to do this can be found here.

Substrate

  • Dry materials are easier to transport, but hot soaking straw or manure in a pot or Rubbermaid bin (so that it is pasteurized, eliminating competition from other fungus and mold) is a good idea. It is possible to use unpasteurized straw or manure and hydrate on site, but it is not recommend.
  • Adding sterile vermiculite to some substrates can “fluff” it up and keep it aerated to avoid unwanted anaerobic molds from growing.
Wood Chips

Some species of mushroom can be grown in wood chips and are sometimes known as “wood lovers.” Examples of some wood lovers are Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe azurescens, Psilocybe subaeruginosa, Psilocybe bohemica, Psilocybe arcana, and Psilocybe serbica. All of the wood loving species follow essentially the same cultivation requirements. Sterilized wood chips are inoculated with grain spawn indoors and then the colonized wood chips are used to inoculate an outdoor wood chip’s bed located in a shady spot.

Cow/Horse Manure

An animal with a proper digestive system is needed, so cow and horse manure are the most popular choices (although a few other types are possible such as deer, rabbit and elephant). A human vegetarian’s waste will not work, so please do not try. You can acquire manure from a hardware store or plant nursery. Test a small amount to see if it will work for you and make sure it doesn’t have fungicide listed on the bag. Some brands may work better than others.
If this is not possible, you may acquire and use a natural source so long as your dung is treated properly.

Sourcing

You may source this in riding stables, farmyards, or parks. Try to acquire your substrate in the warmer months and stock up for the wet season as old half-dried is best. Sometimes your local police might have horses and you may ask them for some for your flowers. Keep in mind that depending on what you look like, the police may be suspicious if you do not look like a person that grows flowers. Again, horse and cow manure are preferred.

  1. You will need several small and flexible bags as well as one opaque, heavy duty bag.
  2. A small bag is placed over the hand and is used to pick up the material. It is turned inside out on itself so that the material is now inside the bag and your hand is outside the bag.
  3. Place the smaller bag in the larger bag.
  4. Repeat as necessary.
  • Manure is great for growing many other types of plants like roses and vegetables.
Leaching and Drying

The following is a guide for a fresh source:

If a person has acquired fresh dung, it will need to be leached (soaking out the ammonia). It can be dried as well. One does not need to trouble themselves with older manure as it will have most likely been leached by the rain.

  • Gloves are suggested for the below steps.
  1. Pick off any rocks and foreign matter, regardless of the age of the material
  2. Soak the manure in water for about 24 hours.
  3. Drain well.
  4. When the material is dry, regardless of age, you can store it or use it immediately.
  • A person can dry it out on a tarp, in the sun or air, or even using a box with a fan. Do not use an oven.
  • It’s a good idea to break the material up as it dries to check moisture level inside and speed up the drying process.

Skipping the drying stage is possible.
The material must be free of ammonia and ideally completely dried out. Again, aged is easier as it (commonly) doesn’t need anything done to it. The older stuff is easier to pick up and is also often full of a friendly white bacteria. Aged dung starts to turn white and very fresh dung dries brown/green. The white is the bacteria (firefang (actinomyces)) and is useful. Where the material is white, it is strongly established.

Preparing for spawning
  • Pasteurization is heat treatment applied to a substrate to destroy unwanted organisms while keeping the favourable ones alive. The temperature range is 60°C to 80°C. The treatment is very different from sterilization, which aims at destroying all organisms in the substrate. You should usually heat (but not boil) for 90 minutes or so.
  • Sterilization is completely destroying all micro-organisms present by heat (autoclave, pressure cooker) or chemicals. Spawn substrate always has to be sterilized prior to inoculation.
  1. Mix the leached dung (dry or wet) into your desired recipe and pasteurize it. Add some vermiculite if it’s too runny.
  2. Manure probably needs to be mixed with straw (a great additive to a horse/cow manure mix) to “fluff” it up and give the substrate more aeration and paths for myc to colonize along. It may not be necessary to do this with horse material, but many growers will use a straw/dung mixture, using anywhere along the spectrum of 99% straw – 99% manure. The recommended is 90% straw. A person can pasteurize the manure together with the straw if that is their preference.
  3. After pasteurising, drain, squeeze, and drain more. “Fluff” it up and mix it with spawn. Some compression may be a good idea for this stage.
  4. Let it all colonize, just as if you just mixed spore solution into the substrate in your jars. 100% colonization is your goal.
Straw

Other Equipment

  • Rubbermaid bin or a large stock pot
  • Mesh bag or pillow case

Setting Up

You will first need to pick out an appropriate area; a remote location is usually best. A shady area is ideal, but the garden will benefit from a small amount of light at least once in the day. Avoid pine trees as best as you can because their soil generally contains unwanted acids. However, pine is not necessarily fatal to the process.

Make sure this layer has sufficient air, but is not packed too loose. Cover all the ground so it is a solid patty. Pine is sometimes, but rarely, the preferred location for some mushrooms. Try to pick an area that will drain well if there is heavy rain. Outdoor fungi growing is best achieved when and where the weather is between 50 and 90 degrees with relatively high humidity. Location on the planet and the time of year will have a lot to do with success rates.

Procedure

Grow Box

This tek will cover outdoor cultivation, however, it does assume you already have colonized substrate jars.

Garden Patch

This tek will cover outdoor cultivation, however, it does assume you already have colonized substrate jars.

  1. Place your substrate in a clean plastic bin or a large stock pot. If you use a plastic bin, it may help to place the smaller bin in a larger bin to keep the walls from breaking.
  2. Hydrate the straw or manure in the container with water that has been heated to 145F-165F. Hot tap water is usually 120-160 degrees, so starting out with hot tap water will work. Allow the water to naturally drop back down to 80F (usually takes about 6-8 hours). Then strain with a mesh bag or pillow case.
  3. Crumble a bottom layer of straw or horse manure in the predetermined area (a circle, square, or a row will work). This will need to be a well aerated mat as a flat solid mat will invite unwanted mold. Adding sterile vermiculite to some substrates can “fluff” them up and keep them aerated. Digging to set your patch in the ground deeper is optional.
  4. Shake and apply your spawn on top of the layer you just placed down. A 1:4 ratio is common. If you are using cakes, these need to be crumbled to make multiple spawning points. Grain spawn naturally does this so the jars just need to be shaken hard.
  5. Lightly sprinkle more substrate on top of the spawn to cover it. Consider this a casing layer to protect the spawn from contamination and drying out.
  6. Keep it hydrated. Wait for harvest.

This preparation is intended to be a general outdoor cultivation guide that can be applied across many species. This is for informational purposes only. It is up to an individual to understand the laws in their area concerning mushroom cultivation.

Psilocybe azurescens outdoor cultivation

( updated: November 29, 2010, at 02:54 PM )
dead link reports, comments and suggestions welcome any time

This document describes the cultivation and links to the available information on the net about the cultivation of Psilocybe azurescens and similar species (Psilocybe cyanescens, Psilocybe subaeruginosa, Psilocybe bohemica, Psilocybe arcana, Psilocybe serbica, Psilocybe moravica . )

The outdoor cultivation of Psilocybe azurescens is somewhat more complex and takes more time from start to harvest compared to the indoor cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis, but it is also easier in some aspects since major parts of the cultivation are done outdoors by mother nature. In addition he outdoor yield can be substantial.

All the wood loving Psilocybe species essentially have the same cultivation parameters.

Climate

The most important requirement for a successful outdoor cultivation is that you live in the correct climate. The Autumns should be cold and moist to enable fruiting, the summers preferably not too dry.

Outdoor cultivation of the wood lovers is possible in the plant hardiness zones 6, 7 and 8.
The range can likely be extended also to zone 5, but the beds will need to be protected by applying a layer of fresh wood chips or a thicker layer of straw to survive the low temperatures in winter.

You can find out in which Plant Hardiness Zone you live by using the maps underneath:

Cultivation procedure

The cultivation consists of the following 3 steps:

  1. Germination of spores on agar -> Transfer of colonized agar to grainsOR
    Direct inoculation with spores using a spore syringe on either a PF cake or grains

Time line for the cultivation of wood lovers

January, February:
Grain spawn or PF cakes preparation.

February, March:
Transfer of the colonized spawn to sterilized or pasteurized wood chips.

March, April, May (as soon the snow melts):
Transfer of the colonized wood chips to outdoor wood chips beds.

(September), October, November, (December)
Fruiting.

Maintenance of the patch

Once you have an established patch, you can simply mix fresh wood chips into the patch every spring and thus extend its lifetime for years. It is also possible to take some colonized wood chips from the original patch and create a new patch t a different location.

Resources

The most accumulated info on cultivation of Psilocybe azurescens can be found at Erowid (click on the images to see the individual grow reports), a very good document also at Historical P. azurescens cultivation notes by TEONANACATL
Psilocybe cyanescens Cultivation
Good pictorial on the outdoor bed preparation (pdf, 900kb)

How exactly did you prepare the wood chips to be used as spawn?

Beech smoke chips are simmered for 1 hour in order to soak them, then strained for 10 minutes and pressure cooked for 45 minutes in jars. After they cooled down the jars were inoculated with the Psilocybe azurescens grain spawn.

Can cedar wood be used for the outdoor bed?

Cedar is a conifer and its wood is very rich in resins which inhibit mycelial growth. There are other conifers which can be used, for instance Douglas fir or spruce. Some other suitable tree species :
beech, oak, birch, chestnut, alder, maple, cottonwood, willow, aspen, poplar, elm , sweet gum, sycamore .
Here is a list of trees recommended for the cultivation of gourmet and medicinal species, you can pretty much translate this 1:1 for growing Psilocybe wood lovers.
The list is taken from the excellent book Mushroom Cultivation by Peter Oei.

What should I look for when selecting a location for the patch

One of the important criteria is that the location stays moist throughout the year. In the vicinity of a creek the micro climate is usually quite moist. Be careful not to place the patch too near a creek in case it floods, since this would carry your patch away. A good moisture indicator are mosses. If moss grows on the forest floor it shows that the ground is moist and it will support a patch very well.
Also important is that the location is somewhat stealthy, so you can plant the patch and pick the mushroom without being disturbed. Also by having the patch in a stealth place you prevent other people from picking your patch.

Does it matter if the ground freezes solid during the winter?

No, it doesn’t matter. Here in Austria the winter temperatures go down to – 20°C for short periods of time, usually it’s a few degrees below the freezing point for about 3 months in winter. The mycelium is quite hardy and once the bed is established and colonized it survives very low temperatures. Just to be sure, you can cover the bed with a fresh layer of chips, straw or cardboard before winter.

Can I directly inoculate a pf cake with a wild print syringe?

If the syringe is clean (which CAN be the case if you worked clean when you were taking the print and the mushroom itself was clean) then it works. Otherwise you will see contamination grow. Psilocybe azurescens colonizes normal PF cakes in

3-4 weeks at room temperature.

Can I inoculate fine wood chips straight from a spore syringe?

Hardly. Spores germinate very poorly on wood chips and seem to take forever. Inoculation on something more nutritious (grain, pf cake) ) is needed if you want to see results in a reasonable time.

I am not in one of the hardiness zones, should I give it a shot?

If you are in a hardiness zone less than 5, you could potentially still have success by letting the substrate colonize outdoors during the summer, and then move it indoor in a cold cellar when the temperatures fall under the freezing point.
This has been done in the past and it worked. Here are the links:
Azures INDOOR/OUTDOOR
Azurescens indoor 2003

It’s summer already, can I still inoculate the outdoor bed?

You can begin anytime of the year.
If you plant the bed outdoors later than spring, it simply won’t fruit this year, but if you add some fresh wood material in the spring next year, it will fruit in the autumn of the next year. Better start now than be late next year again!

Would it be a good idea to cover the bed with cardboard to keep it moist?

Yes, you can do this through the hot summer, although it is not essential. Definitely uncover it in Autumn.

How often should I water the patch?

Depends on the weather. If it rains at least one a week in the summer, you probably won’t have to water it at all. Water it in times of prolonged droughts. Best what you can make though is to choose the location of the patch wisely, somewhere in deep shadow, possibly along a creek where the conditions are naturally moist throughout the year.
It is also important to not over-water . The bed should be moist

1 inch below the surface all the times for fast colonization , but don’t let it sit in water.
If you keep the bed moist, the colonization will speed up considerably. In drier conditions the colonization will take longer.
I had a couple of patches that I didn’t water at all throughout a very dry summer, and they still fruited after abundant autumn rains, wood lovers are quite hardy.

Is the point of being outdoors is to have the full environment?

Yes, the point of colonizing them outdoors is to expose them to natural conditions. It seems as they profit greatly from this, since “normal” indoor cultivation attempts are difficult to successfully accomplish.

Does my patch need a casing layer?

The wood lovers don’t require a casing layer, but they do benefit from one.
I like to make my patches in form of several parallel long channels each around 20 cm wide, 10 cm deep with 10 cm space in between. This way the mycelium is in contact with soil which it obviously benefits from, most fruits come from the area where the wood chips have contact with soil. Some fruits also occur away from the patch in soil covered with growing grass.
Alternatively cover the patch with a thin layer of dry foliage and other debris you find in the woods. Over time this will decompose and provide a thin casing layer which will help the mushrooms fruit all over the patch.

Is indoor cultivation of Psilocybe azurescens possible?

Yes, it is possible , but one needs a dedicated controlled environment. Here is how it can be done:
Psilocybe azurescens indoor cultivation

More images:

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Psilocybe azurescens outdoor cultivation ( updated: November 29, 2010, at 02:54 PM ) dead link reports, comments and suggestions welcome any time This document describes the cultivation