My girlfriend wanted some shrooms for Christmas, so I looked into what I could do to oblige. A bit of research revealed that simple pre-made kits are not regarded as the best way of growing mushrooms, but, being a complete novice in the field of mycology, and even gardening in general, I wanted to start with a completely hassle free method. So I purchased a basic kit for £24. I believe it is identical to those that can be found at various other websites such as www.desjamaan.nl, as well as in many smart shops. Here I will provide a day by day account of my actions and the progress of the kit so others can assess whether they are worth purchasing or not. ---------------------------------------------------- Day -1: I received the kit the today, but I'm not at all ready to set it up. I removed it carefully from the postage packaging (not using a knife) to take a look at it. The kit consists of a black plastic box (about 18*12*7 cm) filled with oatmeal-like grains, with a clear plastic lid sellotaped on top. A clear plastic bag is neatly folded around the box. On the bag, protected behind a fold, is something that looks like a square, white sticker, but is in fact an air filter which must not be touched to avoid contamination. There is no decoration on the box, unlike in the picture on the website. Perhaps the picture is out of date? I noticed a small amount of white fluff (maybe 1 or 2 cm2) in a corner of the surface of the grains. This is apparently mycelium, from which the mushrooms will grow. I was not expecting it to be there already, but apparently this is nothing to worry about. I stored the kit in the fridge whilst I got myself ready to set it up. I had to purchase a few bits and pieces, as well as find a good location for the kit. The items I bought are: 1 digital thermometer for £10 1 water spray bottle (for watering plants with a fine mist) for £0.99 Since I knew I might have to put the kit in a room with no windows, I also bought: 1 basic desk lamp for £4 and some bulbs for £0.75 All items were obtained from a hardware shop down the road. Also these are big city high street prices, so you're likely to find cheaper stuff. Armed with the thermometer, I set off to find a decent spot for my shrooms. According to the instructions, the ideal temperature is around 23 degrees C and must be relatively stable. There must also be daylight but no direct sunlight. The instructions recommend leaving it by a radiator, but unfortunately I do not have control over the heating in this flat (it switches off automatically during the day). And to be frank, the radiators are quit crap even when they are on. I measured the temperature next to the radiator anyway. It ranged from 16 to 22 degrees C with the heating on, so I dread to think how low it might go when they are off. Moreover, the radiators are by a window which we often have open, which would cause further temperature fluctuations. So I decided the radiator was a bad spot. Shame, since the lighting seemed ideal. The one room where I do have control over the temperature is the bathroom: there is an electric heater there which we keep on all the time. I checked the temperature on a small shelf by the toilet (usually used for spare toilet paper, deo-sprays etc..) - a perfect 22.5 degrees C. My concern was that this might fluctuate as we go in and out, use the shower etc... so I decided to leave the thermometer there for the rest of the day and keep an eye on the variations. It turned out that the temperature never got lower than 21.6 C, but could get as high as 27.5 C during a hot shower. This was reduced to 25.2 C if we left the door open during the shower. I decided around 22 C to 25 C was a reasonable range if the ideal temperature was 23 C. The next issue was lighting. The bathroom does not have any windows, so we had to set up an artificial light source. The instructions recommend using "a few TLs" if the kit is grown in a cupboard. Does TL mean table lamp? I wrongly assumed so. We therefore decided to leave the bathroom light on, and add an extra desk lamp neat the kit. The lamp was placed on the back of the toilet, pointing at the wall directly above the kit. The bulb is only about 1 meter above the shelf, but this does not seem to affect the temperature. This seemed like a good setup, but I decided to wait until the next morning in the unlikely event that temperature changed too much overnight. I also prepared some sterile water by boiling the kettle and letting it cool to room temperature. Day 0: Having successfully finished monitoring the temperature in the bathroom, it was time to set the kit up, approximately 48h after it was despatched and 24h after it was stored in the fridge. I first prepared the spot in the bathroom by wiping it down with a very mild disinfectant (might be useful since the bag won't be air tight). I then took the kit out of the fridge and began to set it up on my desk. I carefully unfolded and opened the bag without touching the inside and cut the sellotape on the box. I lowered the kit into the bag, and removed the lid once it was inside. I filled the water sprayer with sterile water and squirted the finest mist possible into the bag until the top of the 'soil' was moist. This took about 5-6 squirts, which seemed like very little water since the shrooms are mostly water and should weigh, for each flush, up to 100g! I then folded the top of the bag over and fixed it in place with two paper clips, and moved the entire contraption to the designated spot. By the evening a question arose: should the lights be turned off at night? I emailed Chris to ask him, but he misunderstood my question (he's a busy man!) and simply referred me to the instructions. The lights stayed on that night. Day 1: No noticeable change in the kit. There is no visible water at all so I am concerned that I didn't put enough. Also, we decided that common sense indicates that the lights should go off at night, what with mushrooms in nature tending to grow over night and all that. Day 2: I think the area of white fuzz has increased slightly in size, but too little for me to be sure. I turned kit around, as recommended by the instructions (to be done every 2 days). In doing this, I noticed a large amount of condensation on the inside of the bag which I had not seen beforehand. It dripped down the sides of the bag to form a puddle under the kit. I am now concerned that I might have put *too much* water! Day 3: The kit was picked up and swivelled around a bit by a friend; some condensation fell directly on the soil, hope this doesn't cause too much trouble. Day 4: Turned the kit around again. As far as I can see, no noticeable progress in the mycelium colonization. Day 5: Nothing new, except maybe more mycelium, but once again I can't be sure. Wish I had a digital camera to take pics every day! Day 6: OK this time I'm sure the mycelium has started to colonize all the way down two sides of the kit and is creeping towards the centre. Not very thick or fluffy though, just a whitish trace. Turned kit around. It's evening now, and there are small growths where the mycelium was densest. I can only assume these are my mushrooms (hopefully not some other kind of mould), although they look more like partially submerged blobs at the moment. I'm a bit concerned about the disparity of growth throughout the kit - most is still showing no sign of mycelium. Day 7: There are about a dozen growths around the edges of the kit, now looking unmistakably like small closed-cap mushrooms. In fact, some of the growths look like they will be composed of up to 4 individual mushrooms with a small common part to their stalk! Many are over 1.5 centimetres, so I have opened the bag to air out the CO2 for 90 minutes, as recommended by the instructions. In doing so I noticed that a small amount of mycelium has made its way to the centre of the kit. Some condensation trickled down the sides of the bag and hit some of the growths. Hope the damage was minimal! Keeping my eye peeled for aborts, since we don't want those to start rotting and damage any other shrooms. Turned kit around. Day 8: Turned kit around. The mushrooms have grown and more have appeared. I'd say there are about 25 visible mushroom heads; the largest bunch are about 5cm, others are less than 0.5cm. The average height is probably 1cm. The instructions say that the flush should be harvested when the largest ones open their caps. But nearly all of mine, including the smallest, seem to have opened their caps over night. Some have even begun to kind of turn "inside out". I can't believe it is already time to harvest them... is a fair amount for a first flush? seems like a small amount to me... To be sure I made my first post on the magic-mushroom.net forum: http://www.desjamaan.nl/forum/display_topic_threads.asp?ForumID=8&TopicID=327&PagePosition=1 along with these pics: Day 9: Decided to let them grow for the time being. Got a reply to my post suggesting to pick them. Apparently I am giving the kit too much light, So I switched off the desk lamp leaving just a 60W bulb about 5m away from the kit - the best I can do for the time being. Bought some latex glove (£1.50 from a chemists) and some mild disinfectant (£1.50 from a chemists). I also bought some 0.1gx200g digital scales (£50 from a hardware store). Slipped on a glove and rubbed it down with the disinfectant. Took the kit to my desk and opened it. Carefully twisted all the accessible shroom out one by one and put them in the container. I did not have any sterile water at hand so I rinsed them with tap water (sterility in the kit is key, but I'm sure the picked shrooms can take some normal tap water) to get the "soil" off. They weigh a total of 48g wet. This should be about 2 good doses, but I harvested them before they put on much weight (because of the caps opening too soon due to excessive light), yet, as far as I gather, *after* they have produced most of their psychoactive substance... so could my 48g actually be more potent than a normal 48g? Have asked in the forum. (coin is 2cm in diameter) A friend of a friend who certainly isn't me has followed the exact same procedure up to here, with an identical reap, and is now drying the shrooms in a Tupperware box (£2 from a supermarket) with some moisture absorber (£1.50 for 500g of Calcium Chloride from a hardware store - you only need about 20g of the stuff so it really is dirt cheap). In the evening, once I had boiled and cooled some water, I poured some down the sides of the kit where the soil had shrunk a bit, as recommended in the instructions. I also sprayed some fine mist into the bag. Day 11: A fine layer of mycelium seems to be covering the whole surface. A couple of shrooms that were growing down the sides of the kit and that I could not reach have become very fat. I'll leave them in there for the time being. Day 13: Some new shrooms popping up. There are also some mutants which were too small to pick at the last flush. They were beginning to dry up so I picked them. I have started spraying the kit daily now. (coin is 2cm in diameter) Day 15: Reaped another 20g today. The shrooms (visible above at an earlier stage) were between 1 and 10cm and look much healthier than the 1st flush. Day 21: Reaped 68g today! Some of the shrooms I left to grow a bit big (15cm) - as you can see in the pics, they are fully developed and some have opened their caps too far. This is because I'd like them fresh in a few days time, and don't trust my dodgy fridge to keep them well. I'm not really expecting another full flush. I've reaped a total of 146g; since I haven't treated the kit perfectly from the onset I'm fully satisfied with the results. However, I have added plenty more water and will continue to give the kit light until I see bad mould... Day 23: Tried them today! I could write pages about the experience but I'll try to stick only to the most useful info. People: The people involved were myself (R), my girlfriend (S) and a very good friend of ours (A). Past Experience: My previous experiences with shrooms have all been in Amsterdam. On the whole they have been good, but there have been two factors that have prevented them from being perfect: . People everywhere. No way you can get away from the massive crowds. . No 'home' to retreat to. The fact that I could generally not return to my place of accommodation while on shrooms always caused discomfort... partly I had to keep using the toilets in Burger King, which was confusing to say the least! My girlfriend was with me in Amsterdam on one of these occasions, and noted similar problems. Our friend had never taken mushrooms. Place: We decided to stay in the flat for comfort's sake, and possibly take a walk if we felt like it later on, since there's a huge park just 5 minutes away. Mood/preparation: We woke up around 10:30am looking very forward to the experience. None of us had eaten since about 7pm the previous night. The concoction: Having read around I decided to make a smoothie out of fresh shrooms. I blended 68g wet + 0.7g dried (that' the equivalent of 25g wet each - an average/strong dose) of wet shrooms and added a small glass of orange juice (for the taste and the Vitamin C, which some people say can improve the trip, but no one really agrees on this: ) and some water. Blending took a w... knew I had cultivated the shrooms myself.