The techniques described here are a good place
to begin, and can be altered to fit your budget
and space. Companies such as Fungi Perfecti
fungiperfecti.com) and Carolina Biological Supply
carolina.com) sell prepoured agar plates, mycelium
spawn, and plastic bags with preattached filters,
which are common in the mushroom industry — or
you can improvise your own with zip-lock bags and
filter material. Drugstores have all sorts of supplies
for protecting living materials. Experiment, keep
track of what you’ve done, and be safe.
As you experiment, keep track of what you are
doing. Write the date and type of mushroom you are
culturing onto your agar plates and jars. In a journal,
write down the recipes you followed or changed, the
equipment and techniques you tried, measurements
of ingredients, cleaning techniques, the number of
times you cooked things, the smells of your cultures,
the substrates you used, how things grew or got
contaminated, and any other things you notice —
even the weather and temperature outside. Without
this documentation, you’ll lose track of what’s what.
And when something works well, you can refer to
your log to try to reproduce the results.
MUSHROOM GROWING TIPS
Clean the room and all of your equipment so that
you could literally eat off of any surface.
» If there are cobwebs in the room, there are prob-
ably microorganism-carrying spiders and insects.
Get rid of them or try another location.
» Choose a work area that’s isolated from open
windows, drafts, plants, pets, and other people.
» Use dedicated equipment — things you’re not
also using for cooking or other activities.
» Work on a smooth surface that can be bleached
down. For a good smooth surface, you can tape
down plastic sheeting or an opened garbage bag.
» Follow strict personal hygiene before doing any
lab work: shower, brush your teeth, pull back long
hair, and clip your nails. When washing your hands,
scrub up to your elbows and rake your fingertips
across a bar of soap to clean under the nails. After
drying off, follow up with isopropyl alcohol. (Once
you are familiar with culturing techniques, you can
be a bit less orthodox about cleanliness.)
» Don’t touch anything unnecessary: your face,
phone, doorknobs. Remove watches and jewelry.
» To supply nutrients, try adding a pinch of 20-20-20
plant food or crushed multivitamin into your cellulose,
or put a piece of dry cat food into your agar.
» If any of your agar or mushrooms are contaminated
with mold, discard them immediately. These will
infect the other things you are trying to grow.
» Join a local mycological society. These are great
places to learn about mushroom growing, as well as
wild mushroom identification.
» Only eat mushrooms that you can identify
The Science of Life, by Frank G. Bottone, Jr. —
Biological principles and good projects for kids.
Mycelium Running and other books by Paul
Stamets — Essential reading by the godfather of
Critical Art Ensemble —
Science and technology artist directory (including
Grain substrate preparation using a pressure