Psolocybe cubensis – Cultivation

Since Hofmann and Wasson had distributed the knowledge about ‚Magic Mushrooms‘ all over the world, the wish arose to cultivate them not only in tropical and subtropical areas but also in other regions not having the appropiate climate conditions. Psilocybe cubensis is the most easiest hallucinogenic mushroom to cultivate at home, but scrupulous cleanliness is necessary to cultivate them with success. Neglected cleanliness always results in a contaminated culture that cannot be used for fungus-production any more. If everything was done correctly, matured mushrooms can be obtained after a time period of about 6-7 weeks. The cultivation of Psilocybe cubensis can be generally described into the following 7 steps (Psilocybinhaltige Pilze):

  • Making a spore print
  • Mycelium cultivation on a nutrient agar
  • Further cultivation of the mycelium
  • Transfer onto a rye substrate
  • Coverage of the rye substrate with soil
  • Fruit production
  • Harvest

In the following paragraphs these 7 steps are further described (most parts are taken from ‚Das Pilzzuchtbuch‚ of Schulders and Lanceata, 1999 and from ‚Psilocybin, Ein Handbuch für die Pilzzucht‚ of Oss and Oeric, 1976).

Making a spore print

Necessary material to produce a spore print:

  • Fresh Psilocybe cubensis
  • Sharp knife
  • Sheet of paper or microscopic glass slides
  • Petri dishes (made from glass; 10 cm in diameter)
  • Desinfactant (e.g., Sagrotan med., without the addition of surfactants)
  • Alcohol burner

The mycelium cultures are produced from spores, which firstly have to be obtained. To do so, a fully matured fungus is necessary with a fully opened cap and visible gills. Now the cap is removed from the stem with a sharp knife; cut as close as possible to the gills so that the cap is able to lay flatly on the gills. Now take the sheet of paper or several glass slides (have to be desinfected and shortly flame sterilised with the alcohol burner) and lay the cap onto them. Cover the cap with a petri dish, as this reduces contamination and keeps the cap moistured. The print is ready after 24 hours and just fold the sheet of paper that no spores get lost or wrap the glass slides tightly into clean foil. Now you have to produce a sufficient amount of mycelium for fungus production. To do so, the spores are cultivated onto nutrient agar, which is described in the following chapter.

Mycelium cultivation on a nutrient agar

To cultivate the mycelium, a appropiate nutrient agar is necessary. Three often used agars are the Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar (PDA), Malt Extract Agar (MEA), or the ‚Dog Provender Agar‘ made of provender for dogs.

Potato Dextrose Yeast Agar

The following ingredients are used:

  • 300 g unpeeled potatoes
  • 25 g agar
  • 12 g dextrose
  • 1 teaspoon yeast

The first step to do is to obtain the starch from the potatoes that is the nutrient for the mushrooms. This is done by washig them and cut them into small pieces, and then cooking them for about 1 hour. Afterwards the cooking liquid is separated from the potato slices using a sieve and kept. The cooked potatoes can be discarded. Now the liquid is filled up with water to a total volume of 1.1 L and the agar, dextrose, and yeast are stirred into it. The yeast will not completely dissolve and some particles will remain, which is no problem. After cooking the mixture for 3 minutes under constant stirring to prevent overboiling, it is cooled down a little bit and transferred into the clean petri dishes. The petri dishes should be filled up with the agar solution until a height of 3-5 mm is reached. Now the agar should cool down and harden (it is easier to transferred when hard). This nutrient agar is very clear and contaminations can easily be detected, but a negative aspect can be the high sugar content, as the mushrooms might grow less strongly.

The ‚Dog Provender Agar‘ and the MEA

These agars are done the same way by simply mixing all ingredients and cooking for 3 minutes. After that, the agar can be distributed in the petridishes as described above. The following ingredients for the Dog Provender Agar are necessary:

  • 30 g dry dog provender (not the canned one)
  • 25 g agar
  • 1.1 L water

For the MEA

  • 25 g malt extract
  • 20 g agar
  • 1.1 L water

are necessary. The positive aspect of the Dog Provender Agar is that the ingredients are very cheap and easy to get, whereas a negative aspect is that the agar is turbid and contaminations are not that easily detectable. In general, 1 L of nutrient agar is sufficient ot prepare about 30 petri dishes with a diameter of 10 cm. It is of crucial importance to sterilize the so produced agar plates. As not everybody has an autoclave at home, a simple pressure cooker does it also. The pressure cooker should also contain an insert having holes to place the petri dishes on. The principle of the pressure cooker is that due to the increased pressure in the pot the temperature of the water steam can increase up to 120 °C. After preparing the petri dishes, you have to fill up the pot with water (about 3 cm from the bottom) and place the insert the other way round into the pot. Now, piles of petri dishes can be placed onto the insert without touching the water (to prevent the intrusion of water during sterilization).

To be continued…

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