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

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


• 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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