Mushroom Life Cycle

| August 17, 2014
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Commercial Oyster MushroomGrowing mushrooms is a great alternative for those without garden space or access to a community garden. But before growing your own mushrooms, its a good idea to understand some basics about mushrooms, fungi, and the mushroom life cycle.

Genetically fungi are closer to humans than plants are. Although we talk about ‘growing’ mushrooms as if they were a plant, they are really nothing alike.

Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a mature fungus. Dense colonies are formed, in various cellulose based substrates such as logs, paper, coffee grounds, etc, from vegetative mycellium. When the vegetative mycellia is mature enough, it is able to rapidly erect a fruiting body and produce spores.

With regards to cultivation. The Mushroom growing process is best segmented into 3 stages. 1 – Inoculation of a substrate. 2 – Colonization of a substrate. 3 – Fruiting.

Inoculation:
In mushroom cultivation, mycellium is taken from the base of a fruiting body or started from spores. Either the spores or mycellia, are used to inoculate a sterile or pasteurized substrate. Sterile and lab type procedures are used to prevent unwanted fungal or bacterial infections.

Colonization:
The mycellium grows throughout a substrate. The substrate is allowed to completely colonize into a dense mass of substrate and white mycellium.

Fruiting:
Following the complete colonization of a substrate, environmental changes such as lighting, humidity, gas exchange, and temperature, are manipulated to induce the the formation of fruiting bodies(mushrooms). 24-48 hours of a cold shock, and high relative humidity, usually spur on the formation of primordial pins(mini mushrooms).

A fresh supply of oxygen and gas exchange, controlled lighting, and humidity, will manipulate the size, shape, and density of mature mushrooms. A mushroom’s genetics will also play a significant role in size, shape, and quality.

Chokecherry

| August 12, 2014
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Chokecherry FruitChokecherry, otherwise known as bitter-berry and Virginia bird cherry, is a bush in the rose family, capable of producing prolific amounts of berries, even in poor climates.

The berries, red to dark purple almost black, grow in dense clusters, are astringent, and not suitable for consumption without processing. They are high in antioxidants, but are toxic without processing. All other portions of the chokecherry plant are toxic, and should not be consumed.

Chokecherry bushes are suckering bushes that can grow tree like, to heights of 16 feet. Leaves can be up to 4 inches long. They are heavy fruit bearers, weight of fruit clusters cause the limbs droop in late summer and fall.

The fruits can be processed with sugar to make a syrup or jam, with a pleasant flavor, similar to a black cherry or boysenberry.

Chokecherry fruits were also dried and hammered into pemmican by native cultures. Pemmican recipes often include a combination of sugar, dried or smoked meats, lard or fats, and is hammered together.

Although similarly named, and distantly related in the Rosacea family, Chokecherry(Prunus Virginiana) should not be confused with Chokeberry(Aronia).

DIY Plant Tissue Culture Media

| August 7, 2014
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

Tisue Culture Control Planttc growthThere are various types of tissues from which a plant can be cultured. Sometimes plant propagation requires multiple stages of tissue culturing, with different media, hormones, or different media consistencies.

Similar to sitting a plant cutting partially submerged in water on a kitchen window sill, sterile liquid media can be used, but most explants should not stay submerged in media or they will be deprived of proper gas exchange and fail to thrive.

Besides keeping all your instruments clean, and properly sterilizing media, the other difficulty is getting your recipe right. Making media can be a bit like the story of ‘Goldilocks and The Three Bears’. We needed to make media, test media, and adjust media to get the correct consistency, ph, and hormone balances.

Experimenting with small batches and making adjustments is the best way to settle in on a good media recipe. Not too firm or you’ll bind up the transportation of nutrients and deprive explants, and not too soft to the point the explant would sink and become deprived of oxygen.

Our base recipe makes approximately 200ml of media. We are able to fill 10 1.5 oz vials about 1/3 full, or sufficiently fill 3 1/2 pint jars. More media can easily be created by multiplying all the values.

  • 1.8 – 2.0g Lab Grade Agar
  • 5.4g Sugar
  • 1.5ml Liquid Fertilizer with Macro and Micro Nutrients (Look for a PH adjusted Fertilizer for Hydroponics)
  • 18ml All Natural Coconut Water
  • 180ml Purified Water H20

Media Preparation: Prepare the autoclavable vials, jars, or other suitable containers that will receive the media, and equipment to be used prior to preparing the media.

  1. Measure out the liquid components of purified water, coconut water, liquid nutrients, and any dissolved hormones.
  2. Heat and thoroughly dissolve sugar into liquids.
  3. Let cool and adjust ph. If you used PH adjusted fertilizers, this step will hopefully be unnecessary. Otherwise the use of ph adjusting chemicals may be necessary
  4. Heat the ph adjusted liquid.
  5. Thoroughly dissolve agar into liquids.

After all solids have been evenly dissolved, either pipette or carefully pour media into your tissue culture vessels.

Sterilizing Media: This step involves any of three methods, and depends on the tools available. They are Autoclaving, Microwaving, or Pressure Cooking. If you started by reading our Intro to DIY Plant Tissue Culture, and are working off of our equipment list, then you will likely pressure cook your media. As such, we’ve included basic procedures for preparing media with a pressure cooker.

Sterilizing Media: Pressure Cooking
The pressure cooker is sometimes abused to make destructive bombs. Why? Because some people are sick and deranged. Really though, because containing increasing pressure in any sort of vessel can be dangerous. To avoid, accidents, injury or death, PLEASE READ all of the instructions included with your pressure cooker, then read them again and again until you understand them.

  1. Fill the bottom of the pressure cooker with your pressure cookers recommended amount of media for a 3 to 25 minute cook time at 15psi.
  2. Place your autoclavable containers with media inside the pressure cooker. Do not seal or cover the containers with anything other than loose foil. A completely closed, or sealed container that cannot breathe will explode.
  3. Rapidly heat the pressure cooker to get it up to pressure. Depending on model, the pressure cooker should have some sort of lock that engages as the pressure rises to prevent opening.
  4. As soon as the steam pressure regulator starts bobbling, drastically reduce heat until the regulator bobbles gently.
  5. Start the stop watch or timer.
  6. The regulator should gently rock for the duration of the sterilization time, which can range from just a few minutes to 25 minutes. Time will depend on the volume of media. We manage to get 0% contamination from the volume of media that our base recipe will make, in only 5 minutes of pressure cook time.
  7. After cooking, remove from heat, and wait for the lock to disengage.
  8. Carefully, remove the pressure cooker lid when it is ready to be released.
  9. Without burning yourself, quickly close or tighten media jar lids that have synthetic filter disks. We do this very cautiously as the pressure cooker is still cooling, and the steam is still rising to keep any unwanted pathogens from entering the positive pressure environment of the cooling pressure cooker. Running the hood fan on the stove during this process also helps prevent the settling of any unwanted pathogens.

Improved Recipe:
After some trial and error with the basic recipe, we observed some explant and media browning, and made some adjustments. We added citric acid to the media to prevent and treat phenol exudates from oxidizing.

  • 1.8g – 2.0g Lab Grade Agar
  • 4.0g Sucrose
  • 1.0ml Soluble Liquid Fertilizer with Macro and Micro Nutrients ~PH 5.0-5.8
  • 18ml All Natural Coconut Water (LESS THAN 10% concentration, greater concentrations caused callus death ~PH 5.2)
  • 180ml Purified Water H20 PH 7
  • 1.0 mg/l IBA(Indole-3-butyric acid) You may need to dissolve this with a solvent prior to usage
  • 50 mg/l Citric Acid Or Less.

High moisture levels in our culture vessels seemed to affect our explants in early trials. In later trials we added autoclavable synthetic filter disks to our jars, and adhered them with high temperature RTV gasket maker/sealer. In other cases we taped over a small holes in the lid of our vials with an adhesive micropore filter.

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Coffea Liberica aka excelsa, dewevrei, dybowskii

| August 7, 2014
Photo Credit: Keith Knoxsville
A Hen and a Drake Green Teal on the truck bed. Not a limit on anything, but a fun morning out.

leaf tip dybowskii dewevrei coffea liberica excelsaDescription: The Coffea Liberica is a ‘large’ or ‘giant’ leaved coffee variety. Its leaves are much larger and longer when compared to other Coffea Species. Liberica is one of the least commercially cultivated coffee varieties. Although it originated in Liberia, it has been introduced and commercially cultivated in both the Philippines and Vietnam. Scientifically, although once considered unique species of coffee, Coffea excelsa, dewevrei, and dybowskii were all recognized as the same species. They are now all considered synoyms for Coffea Liberica. The coffee of the liberica species grown in the phillipines is commonly known as kape barako, or kapeng barko; with baraco considered an alternative spelling.

Coffea liberica can be most easily identified by the combination of both large leaves and the bronze color of new leaf growth. Pictured left.

Growing Coffea Liberica:
Its possible to grow Coffea Liberica indoors unto the point it gets too big. Liberica Coffee can be grown from seed or propagated from cuttings. Our success rate germinating Coffea Liberica has actually been much greater than growing other coffee varieties from seeds.