Growing Mushrooms at Home: The PF Tek Method

Interested in growing mushrooms at home? The PF Tek method is a simple, effective way to grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms.

| February 2015

  • Mushrooms
    Learn to grow mushrooms at home with this guide to the PF Tek method of cultivation, and start growing your own supply of delicious mushrooms.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Materials
    Combine vermiculite or sawdust, water and brown rice flour to make the substrate for your mushrooms.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Add holes to jar lids
    Hammer four holes through each jar lid.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Blend growth medium
    Mix the substrate thoroughly.
    Photo by Stacy Newgate
  • Fill jars
    Fill each jar with vermiculite mixture to the level of the lowest ring band.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Tape holes
    Make small tabs with the tape as you seal the holes in the jar lids.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Foil covers
    Cover each jar with foil before sterilizing them.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Steam jars
    Steam the jars of substrate to sterilize them before inoculating with mushroom spores.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Inoculate jars
    Inject about 1/4 cc of fluid into each hole of each jar lid to inoculate the substrate.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Contaminated growth
    Immediately dispose of any jars with growth that is not white. Pink, green and black are common colors of contaminated growth.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • Good mycelium
    After 2 weeks of incubation, you should have fully colonized substrate.
    Photo by Stacy Newgent
  • The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms
    With "The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms," by Stephen Russell, novices and advanced mushroom cultivators alike can learn to produce mushrooms consistently for the kitchen or small business.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

  • Mushrooms
  • Materials
  • Add holes to jar lids
  • Blend growth medium
  • Fill jars
  • Tape holes
  • Foil covers
  • Steam jars
  • Inoculate jars
  • Contaminated growth
  • Good mycelium
  • The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms

The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms (Storey Publishing, 2014), by Stephen Russell, is a comprehensive guide to growing mushrooms at home, producing shiitakes, oysters, lion’s manes, maitakes and portabellas for your kitchen or for a small business. Learn how to use mushroom kits, maintain sterile procedures and a controlled environment, create grain or sawdust spawn, and use liquid cultures and fruiting chambers to produce mushrooms consistently. The following excerpt is from chapter 4, “Your First Grow.”

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: The Essential Guide to Cultivating Mushrooms.

If you want to grow your own mushrooms without the use of a premade kit, this is the place to start. We will focus on one basic method, by far the simplest and most efficient for amateurs learning to grow mushrooms. Originally invented by psilocybe cultivators, the PF Tek method works well for Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms, two species that are good choices for beginners.

The PF Tek Method

This method, originally published in 1995 by an individual who used the pseudonym Psilocybe Fanaticus (PF), involves steaming vermiculite and brown rice flour in small, half-pint canning jars. Once cool, the concoction is injected with a syringe of spores or a liquid culture. Growers ultimately end up with colonized “cakes” of mycelium that are fruited in a small terrarium. PF was arrested in 2005 and prosecuted by the Drug Enforcement Agency for growing illegal hallucinogenic varieties, but he lives on through his legacy — this simple method for home mushroom cultivation.



There are several key reasons why this is a good method for beginners. First, it uses materials that are available everywhere. Vermiculite is available at most garden centers; brown rice flour is available at health food stores and many groceries. Second, it is possible to sterilize this substrate by simply steaming the jars in a pot on the stove. Most of the other methods described in this book require a costly pressure cooker. Third, this method uses spore or liquid culture syringes, commonly available online, as a starting point. Finally, this method only requires a fruiting chamber the size of a small plastic bin. If you’re a beginner, I encourage you not to prepare more than 24 PF jars until you’ve fruited at least one smaller round of jars successfully. Trying to overproduce before you understand all the methods only increases your chances of failure. Start with something small and manageable, and you will be rewarded.

Using the PF Tek Method

Materials

• Half-pint wide-mouth canning jars
• Vermiculite (or sawdust, for wood-loving species)
• Brown rice flour
• Water
• Measuring cups
• Mixing bowls
• Paper towels
• Alcohol & swabs or cotton balls
• 1/8-inch (3 mm) nail
• Hammer
• Masking tape
• Aluminum foil
• Large pot with lid or pressure cooker
• Spore or liquid culture syringe
• Bleach solution
• Lighter






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