An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Y ou’ve gathered all the necessary accouterment, diligently followed the steps in The No-fail Beginner’s Guide, and are well on your way to your first magic mushroom harvest. Then — it all goes to “hell in a hand-basket” (as my mom used to say).
Ugh! All your hard work and excitement — destroyed.
It can be disheartening to open your growing chamber and see white fuzz or green mold all over your birthing cakes. And it leaves you wondering what you did wrong and if there’s anything you can do to save your grow.
Cultivating magic mushrooms at home isn’t rocket science, but there are a plethora of things that can go amiss when you‘re first learning. Even an experienced magic mushroom cultivated can lose a batch occasionally.
Bacteria, mold (fungi), and pests will be your main offenders.
Why Complications Arise
When magic mushrooms grow in their natural habitat, they enjoy a perfectly balanced environment only found in nature. If the setting weren’t perfect, they wouldn’t grow there. Therefore, they have the ability to ward off bacteria, pests, and mold.
Researchers have found evidence that some fungi developed psilocybin in their fruiting bodies (mushrooms) as a pesticide.
When you attempt to grow magic mushrooms DIY style, your goal is to mimic their natural habitat. Since correctly simulating nature is near impossible, complications can arise.
Fortunately, there are advanced growing techniques you can practice and some emergency intervention tools you can employ to mitigate the damage if you do experience obstacles.
So, without further adieu, let’s explore the tools for your possible salvation.
Before we dive into solutions, let me introduce you to some of the most common bacteria, mold, and pests that can hijack your grow.
Bacteria are unicellular microorganisms that have cell walls but lack organelles and an organized nucleus. Some are beneficial, and others are harmful.
Bacteria surround you and have more bacteria cells in and on your body than you do human cells. Bacteria digest your food and perform a whole host of other processes essential to your health and wellness. You’d die without them.
Because bacteria are everywhere, it’s challenging to keep harmful bacteria from contaminating your grow. The most common sign of a bacterial infection is bacterial slime. You’ll most often see bacterial slime in your mason jars when you’re cultivating your mycelium cakes.
There’s no fixing bacterial slime. Throw out the contents of the jar and sterilize the crap out of it. Fortunately, bacterial slime won’t spread to the other jars.
There’s a Fungus Amongus
Mold is a form of fungus, and fungus is spore-producing organisms feeding on organic matter, including molds, yeast, mushrooms, and toadstools.
Ironically, you’re cultivating psilocybin mushrooms, which are also a fungus, but mold isn’t the fungus you seek.
Some of the most common molds that will make an appearance are:
- Green mold
- Pink Mold
Mold spores are everywhere. They typically appear on your mycelium cakes after you birth them and place them in your fruiting chamber. They don’t appear right away. Those miscreants often wait until you see some decent pins (baby mushrooms) on your cakes.
You’ll get mold if your fruiting chamber doesn’t have enough ventilation or frequent air exchange. And you can get mold your chamber’s humidity level is too high. So, proper ventilation is crucial.
If you get mold, it doesn’t mean your crop is ruined. But, if you try to remove the mold, it will explode, and you’ll have a more extensive problem on your hands. So, please don’t mess with it! It’s far better to toss out your entire grow, learn from the experience, and start over.
Mold can be hazardous to your health. I know — it’s disapointing when you’ve made to this stage problem-free. Do it anyway.
If it makes you feel better, I lost ten perfect mycelium cakes which were beginning to birth mushrooms to green mold because I used vermiculite directly from the bag without sanitizing it. I also forgot to sanitize my temperature/humidity gauge. So, I feel your pain.
Those Pesky Pests
Since you’re likely cultivating indoors, pests are less of a concern than mold, but they can happen. Since researchers believe psilocybin is a natural pest repellent, your mushroom do have a built-in defense mechanism, but they ay need additional help.
Some of the most common pests you could battle are:
- Mushroom Mites
- Mushroom Flies
- Fungus Gnats
If you do get pesst, there are many natural pesticides that are safe to use. You can also sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your growing chamber. It’s safe for your mycelium and mushrooms, and gardeners swear by it for natural pest control.
Meet Your New Best Friend — H2o2
The adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” remains true in everything from health and wellness to relationships to growing just about anything. And you’ll find prevention goes a long way in your magic mushroom cultivation journey.
If you follow the basic sanitation guidelines in part one, you’ll be well on your way to preventing contamination, and you can use advanced prevention techniques. One of them is water, with an antibacterial twist, also known as hydrogen peroxoide (H2o2).
H2o2 can kill most bacteria, mold spores, and pest eggs present in your substrate. I also add it to the water in the spray bottle I use to mix. It’s not a guarantee, but it can help.
So, if you’ve gotten bacterial slime in your jars, or mold or pests in your fruiting chamber, it’s time to start over. Re-read the steps in part I and pay close attention to the sanitation process.
Then, take extra precautions to thoroughly sanitize your growing chamber and anything you put in it. And wear clean gloves when you transfer your birthing cakes to their bed.
Magic Mushroom Types, Strains, and Varieties
If it’s your first attempt at growing magic mushrooms, you may be wondering what strain you should choose. The possibilities are endless. There are thousands of strains, and each strain has several varieties. So, unless you’re a psilocybin connoisseur, it isn’t going to matter much. Grow whatever spores you can get your hands on.
Have you ever smoked weed? If so, you’re probably familiar with the plethora of strains available. Yes, each strain can have a different effect and you may have your favorites if you smoke regularly. But, if you don’t smoke that often, you’re not going to notice the difference.
A psychedelic trip is an extraordinarily profound experience that you’ll likely embark on infrequently. So, you probably won’t become an expert any time soon. It doesn’t make sense for you to be too concerned about the strain you choose.
Most growers think Psilocybe Cubensis is easiest to grow, and it’s spores are easy to find online. However, if you grow regularly, it can be fun to learn about and try different strains. If that excites you, go for it.
Harvest, Test, Dry, and Store
When your birthing cakes are ready to harvest (see image), just snap the mushrooms off at the base. A harvest is called a flush. Good news — you can flush your birthing cakes more than once.
To flush your birthing cake again, soak it like you did when you first removed it from the jar. Then return it to the fruiting chamber and let it do its thing. How many flushes you get will vary. Once it stops fruiting, throw it out.
Test to be sure your mushrooms are, indeed, a psilocybin strain before you eat them or bother to dry and store them. You never know.
The test is simple:
Pinch the stem or cap of one of your mushrooms to bruise it. If it turns blue, it’s a psilocybin mushroom. If it doesn’t, you have no way of knowing what it is, and it’s not going to have the effect you desire. Throw them out. There are poisonous mushrooms strains, and it’s not worth the risk.
Dry and Store
You can eat your mushrooms while they’re fresh and store them in your refrigerator as you would any edible mushrooms. But, hopefully, your harvest was large enough you’ll have way too many to eat while they’re still fresh.
Lay your mushrooms on paper towels or a cloth to air dry. Just be sure to keep them out of reach of children or pets. It will take several days to a week for them to dry thoroughly. Then, place them in a jar and store them in a cool, dark place. They should last for years.
Hopefully, part II of The No-fail Beginner’s Guide to Growing Magic Mushrooms will help save you the pain of a contaminated grow. If you do lose a crop, don’t be discouraged. Most hobbies have a learning curve, and as the adage says, “Nothing worthwhile is easy.”
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