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Psilocybe azurescens outdoor cultivation

( updated: November 29, 2010, at 02:54 PM )
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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:

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Hardiness Zone Map of Europe
World Hardiness Zone Maps

Cultivation procedure

The cultivation consists of the following 3 steps:

  1. Germination of spores on agar -> Transfer of colonized agar to grains OR
    Direct inoculation with spores using a spore syringe on either a PF cake or grains
  2. Transfer of the colonized grain or pf cake to pasteurized or sterilized soaked wood chips. Particularly suitable are smoke chips, beech or alder, or chips used for animal bedding.
    (It is possible to skip this step and instead inoculate the outdoor beds directly with grain spawn . The drawback of this is that rodents and birds sometime disturb or destroy the outdoor beds prepared in this manner by picking out the colonized grains.)
  3. The colonized wood chips are used to inoculate an outdoor wood chips bed located in a shady spot in spring. Best are fresh wood chips from deciduous trees(alder, beech, poplar, but any other deciduous wood will work) also spruce and Douglas fir. Dried, soaked wood chips also work. Inoculation rate is 1 kg spawn to 10-20 kg wet chips(up to 50 is possible). The bed is kept moist throughout the summer, and in September - December when the weather is rainy and the temperature drops to around 5°C one or several fruiting occurs, dependent on the weather conditions.

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)

FAQ

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:

Psilocybe azurescens
Psilocybe azurescens(@Shroomery)
Psilocybe cyanescens
Psilocybe cyanescens(@Shroomery)


Mushroom Cultivation Videos


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Page last modified on November 29, 2010, at 02:54 PM