So you’ve just come out of your most recent mushroom trip with a newfound outlook and purpose in life. However, obtaining more mushrooms to keep the good vibes going with a microdose regimen or occasional cup of mushroom tea is proving to be a hassle.
Your friend of a friend is just too unreliable, while the guy you got some caps and stems from at the Phish show is long gone. Or maybe you just can’t afford to keep buying shrooms for however much they cost in your area.
If you’re ready to take the next step toward fulfilling your interest in magic mushrooms and decide to grow your own, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a breakdown of the very first step in growing your own mushrooms—obtaining spores.
Just as all plants start from seeds, mushrooms begin as spores. Spores contain the genetic material required to create various subspecies of mushrooms.
We aren’t talking about run-of-the-mill shiitake spores for making mushroom bisque soup here—we’re discussing psilocybe cubensis spores, the most common cultivated psychedelic mushroom. Spores for other types of psilocybin mushrooms, like psilocybe cyanescens and others, can also be obtained. For the sake of an easy learning curve, let’s begin with cubensis.
Once a medium is inoculated with spores, or introduced and absorbed into the host substrate or medium, a network of stringy white branching filaments called the mycelium will form.
The mycelium grows best within substrates like brown rice flour, coco coir, manure or other enriched mediums. Once entirely colonized by mycelium in a healthy white concentration, the substrate is then incubated with proper temperature, humidity, and light, to allow mushrooms to start growing, or fruiting.
Spores develop in the gills of a mushroom and shoot out or fall from a fully mature mushroom that has already fruited. Cultivators can make spore prints from the gills of fresh mushrooms by placing a sheet of plastic, paper, or foil beneath the mushroom cap. Over the course of several hours the residue that constitutes the spore print should be visible.
Prints can then be scraped for powder and put into a spore syringe.
Spore prints are placed in spore syringes to best deliver them into a substrate to achieve their main goals—colonization and germination. These syringes consist of sterilized water and spores of a particular mushroom species. Vendors produce these spore solutions and syringes in a sterilized lab to eliminate any possible contamination.
Syringe sizes are typically 10cc (or 10mL). An average of 2-4cc of spore solution is usually necessary to achieve proper colonization. It’s recommended to not exceed the typical injection amount of 2-4cc, in order to reduce excess moisture within substrate containers, which could lead to irreversible mold formation. Any spore solution left over can be used for additional substrates if properly stored and sterilized.
Spore vendors will also ship a sterile needle attachment that can be affixed to a syringe to introduce or inoculate the spores directly into the substrate. Even though these needles are shipped sterile, as with most mushroom cultivation practices, always re-sterilize them before use.
How do I store spore syringes?
Keep spore syringes in the refrigerator until ready to use, especially if you choose not to inoculate immediately, or if you have some spores left over from an inoculation. They should remain in a clean and sterile Ziplock bag in the fridge so they can remain viable for the longest amount of time. This practice keeps syringes away from airborne contaminants and any changes in humidity that might affect spores.
There is some back-and-forth as to how long properly stored and clean spore syringes can still be successfully used. Some mycologists believe any spores kept after six months are going to degrade. Others claim to have successfully germinated shrooms with spores several years to several decades old! It’s all about how many mushrooms you plan to grow at once, sterilization and storage methods, and quality of spore genetics involved.