Mushroom Grow Guide: table of contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
#1 mushroom growing basics
Mushrooms, nature’s hidden gems, have fascinated humans for centuries. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast, a medicinal seeker, or simply curious, understanding the fundamentals of mushroom cultivation can be both rewarding and enlightening. In this section, we’ll delve into the core elements that influence mushroom growth: substrate, lighting, humidity, and airflow. Let’s embark on this mycological journey and uncover the secrets of mushroom growing kits.
Unlike plants, don’t derive their nutrients from soil and sunlight. Instead, they thrive on organic matter, breaking it down and extracting essential nutrients. This organic matter, known as the substrate, plays a pivotal role in mushroom cultivation. The choice of substrate in a mushroom growing kit can significantly influence the yield, growth rate, and health of the mushrooms. Let’s explore some of the most commonly used substrates in mushroom cultivation:
Types of Substrate For Mushrooms
Wheat straw is a popular choice for many mushroom varieties, especially oyster mushrooms. It’s abundant, inexpensive, and provides a good structure for mycelium to colonize.
It may require pasteurization or sterilization to eliminate any competing organisms.
Many wood-loving mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, prefer hardwood sawdust. It offers a dense nutrient profile and can be mixed with other supplements to boost growth.
It can compact easily, which might hinder mycelium growth if not properly aerated.
Coco coir, derived from coconut husks, is a sustainable and renewable resource. It’s known for its excellent water retention properties and is often used in combination with other substrates.
On its own, coco coir might lack the necessary nutrients for some mushroom species, so it’s best used as a supplement.
Manure, especially horse manure, is a nutrient-rich substrate favored by many gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. It’s packed with organic matter that mushrooms love.
It’s essential to ensure that the manure is well-composted and free from pesticides or other harmful chemicals. Fresh manure can also introduce unwanted microbes.
Organic Growing Medium
At Nature Lion, we take pride in offering the finest substrates for our mushroom growing kits, ensuring optimal growth, yield, and health of the mushrooms. Our substrate choices are not only rooted in extensive research and experience but also in our commitment to organic and sustainable practices. Here’s a closer look at the substrates we use:
Organic Wheat Bran / Hardwood Sawdust for Lion’s Mane Kits:
A balanced blend of organic wheat bran and hardwood sawdust.
This mix provides the ideal nutrient profile and structure for the unique growth requirements of Lion’s Mane mushrooms. The organic wheat bran offers a rich source of nutrients, while the hardwood sawdust ensures a dense and fibrous structure for the mycelium to thrive and colonize.
Why We Chose It:
Lion’s Mane mushrooms have specific growth needs, and our blend ensures they receive the right balance of nutrients and structure for optimal growth.
Master’s Mix for mushroom growing kits:
Composition: A tried-and-true blend of hardwood sawdust mixed with soybean hulls.
Often referred to as the “Master’s Mix” in the mushroom community, this combination is renowned for its high nutrient content and excellent water retention properties. The hardwood sawdust provides a natural and dense base, while the soybean hulls introduce additional nutrients, making it a powerhouse substrate for Oyster and Chestnut mushrooms.
Why We Chose It:
The Master’s Mix is versatile and effective, suitable for a wide range of mushroom species. Its balanced nutrient profile ensures that our kits produce consistent and bountiful yields.
Our substrate choices reflect our dedication to quality, sustainability, and the success of our mushroom growers. Whether you’re cultivating Lion’s Mane or any other variety, you can trust that our kits come with the ideal substrate to support your mushroom cultivation journey.
Humidity plays a crucial role in the mushroom growing process. Just as plants need the right amount of water to grow, mushrooms require a specific humidity range to thrive. This moisture in the air aids in the development of the mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, and ensures that the fruiting bodies, or the mushrooms we see and eat, develop properly. Let’s delve into the nuances of humidity in mushroom cultivation:
Ideal Humidity Range:
Oyster mushrooms prefer a humidity level between 75% to 95%.
Why It Matters:
This high humidity ensures that the oyster mushrooms remain moist and prevents them from drying out. A consistent humidity level within this range will lead to plump, juicy oyster mushrooms with a delightful texture.
Ideal Humidity Range:
Lion’s Mane mushrooms thrive in a slightly higher humidity range than oyster mushrooms, usually between 85% to 95%.
Why It Matters:
Lion’s Mane requires a fairly moist environment, it’s not as forgiving compared to oyster mushrooms, but it’s not difficult to grow. Using a humidity tent, equipped with airflow holes will ensure a proper humidity range for growing Lion’s Mane. Higher humidity leads to long, spiky tendrils, giving Lion’s Mane its unique appearance and texture.
Fruiting Mushrooms on Your Kitchen Counter:
Challenges: Some areas of the home might not naturally maintain the high humidity levels mushrooms crave. Factors like air conditioning, heating, and general airflow can affect indoor humidity.
To cultivate mushrooms in your home with a mushroom growing kit, find an area that’s away from any heating/cooling vents, and ceiling fans. Keep your kits away from open windows, and drafts. It might also be helpful to use a humidity tent, but only in certain scenarios.
Why It’s Worth It:
Growing mushrooms in your house is a delightful experience. Not only do you get to witness the beauty of mushroom growth, but you also have fresh mushrooms at your fingertips, ready to be harvested and enjoyed.
While mushrooms aren’t photosynthetic like plants, light still plays a pivotal role in their growth and development. Unlike plants that require light for energy, mushrooms use light as a signal for growth direction and to initiate the fruiting process.
Color Temperature – 6500K:
What It Means:
The color temperature of a light source is measured in Kelvins (K). A color temperature of 6500K is often referred to as “daylight” because it closely mimics the natural light of a clear day.
Why It’s Ideal:
For mushroom cultivation, a 6500K light provides a spectrum that closely resembles natural daylight. This spectrum encourages healthy mushroom growth and ensures that the mushrooms grow upwards and develop properly.
Ambient Light vs. Direct Sunlight:
Mushrooms thrive in ambient light, which means they prefer indirect, soft light rather than the harsh rays of the sun. This can be the light that filters through a curtain or the diffused light in a shaded area.
Avoiding Direct Sunlight:
Direct sunlight can dry out mushrooms and their substrate, hindering their growth. It’s essential to ensure that while mushrooms receive light, they are shielded from direct sun exposure.
Growing at Home:
When cultivating mushrooms at home, choose a location that receives plenty of ambient light but is away from direct sunlight, such as a countertop away from a window or a shaded corner.
If natural light is limited, consider using LED or fluorescent lights with a color temperature of 6500K. These can be set on a timer to mimic a natural day-night cycle, providing your mushrooms with the light they need without overexposing them.
fresh air exchange (fae)
Mushrooms, like all living organisms, require a balance of essential elements to thrive. One of these critical elements is fresh air, specifically the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide, commonly referred to as Fresh Air Exchange (FAE). Let’s dive deeper into the significance of FAE in mushroom cultivation:
Why FAE is Important:
Mushrooms consume oxygen for their metabolic processes. A steady supply of fresh oxygen ensures that the mycelium, the vegetative part of the fungus, remains healthy and vigorous.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Removal:
As mushrooms grow, they release CO2 as a byproduct. High levels of CO2 can hinder mushroom growth, leading to elongated stems and small caps. FAE helps in reducing CO2 concentrations, promoting proper mushroom development.
Growing in Open Environments:
Most homes naturally have a good amount of FAE due to regular activities like opening doors, windows, and the general movement of air. In such environments, ensuring adequate FAE is less of a concern.
While open environments provide ample FAE, maintaining the right humidity levels can be challenging. It’s essential to monitor and adjust humidity to prevent the substrate from drying out.
Using a Humidity Tent or Growing Tent:
Balancing FAE and Humidity: In enclosed environments like humidity tents or growing tents, ensuring proper FAE becomes crucial. These environments can trap CO2, leading to suboptimal growth conditions. At the same time, they help in maintaining high humidity levels.
Achieving Optimal FAE:
Cutting Holes: One method to increase FAE in a humidity tent is by cutting holes, allowing for passive airflow. This method also helps in maintaining humidity levels.
Removing the Tent: Another approach is to remove the tent for an hour or two each day. This action provides a burst of fresh air, ensuring that the mushrooms receive the oxygen they need.
Exhaust Fans: For those using grow tents, installing an exhaust fan that pulls air to the outside is ideal. This setup ensures a constant flow of fresh air, effectively managing CO2 levels.
Detriments of High CO2:
Elevated CO2 levels can result in stunted mushroom growth, with the mushrooms producing long, thin stems and underdeveloped caps.
High CO2 concentrations can also delay or inhibit the fruiting process, leading to reduced yields.
2. The Life Cycle Of Fungi
Unlike plants that grow from seeds, mushrooms develop from tiny spores, undergoing a series of stages before maturing into the fruiting bodies we recognize and enjoy. Let’s journey through the life cycle of a mushroom, from its humble beginnings as a spore to its triumphant return to the same stage:
Spores are the microscopic “seeds” of the fungal world. They form on the gills, pores, or other spore-producing structures of mature mushrooms.
Once mature, these spores are released into the environment, carried by wind, water, or other agents. Each spore is incredibly tiny and has the potential to give rise to a new mushroom.
Germination and Mycelium Growth:
When a spore lands in a suitable environment with the right conditions, it germinates, giving rise to a tiny thread-like structure called a hypha.
As the hypha grows and branches out, it forms a dense network known as mycelium. This mycelium is the vegetative part of the fungus, working behind the scenes, breaking down organic matter and absorbing nutrients.
When the mycelium encounters specific environmental cues, such as a change in temperature, humidity, or light, it begins the fruiting process.
The mycelium aggregates and differentiates to form a primordium, which is the precursor to the mushroom. As it continues to grow and develop, it takes on the familiar shape of a mushroom cap, stem, and other structures.
The mature mushroom is the reproductive structure of the fungus. It’s at this stage that spore-producing structures, like gills or pores, develop and become ready for spore formation.
Return to Spore:
Once the mushroom reaches maturity, it begins the process of spore production and release, completing the life cycle and ensuring the continuation of the species.
3. Set up your grow kit
Open The Grow Window
Using a knife or scissors remove the perforated window on the back of your mushroom growing kit.
Make The “X” Cut
Once the grow window is open it’s time to make an “X” cut into the plastic of the grow block. Your cut should be 2-3 inches long.
Don’t be afraid to cut into the growing medium a little bit either. Disturbing it slightly will encourage mushroom growth at the cut.
Even though it’s tempting, don’t make the cut too big (2-3 inches max.) or your mushroom growing kit will evaporate water too quickly and this can negatively affect your yields.
Spray, Spray, Spray!
Next, take the spray bottle provided with your grow kit and fill it with tap water, or filtered water if your prefer.
Spray the “X” cut area really good. You can fold back the flaps and get some water right on the substrate, but make sure to fold the flaps back afterwards.
Keep Spraying daily!
For the next 2-3 weeks you are going to want to spray your grow kit like this at least twice a day. Once in the morning, and once at night is sufficient but if you do it more often it can improve your final yield.
Dial It Back the water
In a few weeks you should see baby mushrooms (known as primordia or pins) forming somewhere near the “X” cut you made earlier.
At this point you want to dial back the spraying because mushrooms don’t like direct contact with water. It’s okay if they get wet so don’t avoid it all together, but too much spraying can cause them to dry out prematurely.
Keep Humidity High
Mushrooms absorb water through humidity in the air, not the growing medium. So keep spraying your mushrooms but focus on getting the box a little wet and the area around the mushrooms.
The water will evaporate and your mushrooms will be happy because the prefer the water vapour.
You can spray actual mushrooms themselves once a day, but avoid overdoing it or they can dry out before being ready to harvest..
HUMIDITY TIP: Keep a bowl of water nearby your mushroom kit. The evaporating water will be passively absorbed by the mushrooms as they grow.
The reason for this is that you shouldn’t directly spray your lion’s mane mushrooms with water. Instead, what you can do is spray water on the inside of your humidity tent and place it over your mushroom kit.
By doing this you will increase the relative humidity around your mushrooms and they will absorb that water as they grow. Remove the humidity tent 2-3 times per day and spray the inside with water before placing it back over your kit.
For Oyster Mushrooms
Oyster mushrooms need more airflow to grow properly so a humidity tent isn’t the best option. If you still want to use one you can but be careful and only leave the tent over your kit for a few hours per day.
4. Mushroom Grow Kit Varieties
Each mushroom strain has its unique growing needs. In this section, we’ll highlight the optimal conditions for each strain in our kits. From Black Oyster to Lion’s Mane, we’ll guide you through the essentials to ensure a thriving cultivation experience. Dive in to tailor your approach for each specific strain.
🌡️ Temperature: 12C – 24C (55F – 75F)
🍄 Flavor: Robust, Earthy
🤲 Texture: Meaty, Velvety caps
💧 Humidity: 80% – 95%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Beginner-friendly
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 2-4 Weeks
🌡️ Temperature: 15C – 26C (59F – 80F)
🍄 Flavor: Delicate, Nutty
🤲 Texture: Soft, Fleshy
💧 Humidity: 88% – 93%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Intermediate
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 3-4 Weeks
🌡️ Temperature: 20C – 29C (68F – 85F)
🍄 Flavor: Mild, Fruity, Seafood
🤲 Texture: Delicate, Tender
💧 Humidity: 75% – 95%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Beginner
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 2 Weeks
🌡️ Temperature: 12C – 21C (55F – 70F)
🍄 Flavor: Rich, Savory
🤲 Texture: Firm, Crispy
💧 Humidity: 85% – 90%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Intermediate
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 2-3 Weeks
🌡️ Temperature: 15C – 29C (68F – 85F)
🍄 Flavor: Sweet, Lobster-like
🤲 Texture: Soft, Stringy tendrils
💧 Humidity: 90% – 95%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Advanced
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 3 Weeks
🌡️ Temperature: 15C – 24C (55F – 75F)
🍄 Flavor: Nutty, Woodsy
🤲 Texture: Soft, Stringy tendrils
💧 Humidity: 80% – 95%
🌱 Difficulty Level: Intermediate
🕒 Average Fruiting Time: 4 Weeks
5. WHEN TO HARVEST
Mastering the art of mushroom cultivation doesn’t end with watching them grow; it’s also about knowing the perfect moment to harvest. In this section, we’ll guide you through the subtle cues and signs that indicate when your mushrooms are at their peak.
harvesting tips: oyster mushroom & chestnut
Mushroom cultivation is a rewarding journey, and harvesting them at the right time is crucial to enjoy their optimal flavor, texture, and appearance. Especially for varieties like Oyster Mushrooms and Chestnut, certain signs indicate they’re ready for picking. Let’s delve into these indicators:
Caps Turning Upwards:
As mushrooms mature, their caps begin to uncurl and turn upwards. This is often the first sign that they’re approaching the ideal harvest time. For both Oyster and Chestnut varieties, a slightly upward-turned cap indicates they’re at their peak.
When the edges of the mushroom caps start to get wavy or frilly, it’s a hint that they might soon be past their prime. Harvesting just before or as soon as you notice this can ensure you get them at their freshest.
Any noticeable change in color, especially darkening, lightening or spots, suggests that the mushroom is aging. It’s best to harvest before any significant discoloration occurs to enjoy the mushroom’s natural flavor and appearance.
A firm yet slightly tender texture is ideal. If the mushrooms feel too soft or begin to get slimy, they might be overripe. Always aim to harvest when they’re firm to the touch, ensuring the best texture and taste.
Mushrooms release spores as they mature. If you notice a fine, powdery substance beneath the mushroom caps, it’s an indication that they’re in their spore-releasing phase. While they’re still edible at this stage, harvesting just before
harvesting tips: lion's mane
Lion’s Mane is a unique and visually striking mushroom, known for its cascading tendrils and potential cognitive benefits. Harvesting it at the right time ensures you capture its optimal flavor, texture, and nutritional value. Here are some key indicators to guide you:
Lion’s Mane, when fresh and at its peak, has a pristine white appearance. As it starts to age or surpass its prime, it will begin to yellow. It’s essential to monitor its color and harvest before significant yellowing occurs to enjoy its natural flavor and benefits.
One of the distinguishing features of Lion’s Mane is its spines or hairs. In a high-humidity environment, these hairs will start to form and elongate on the mushroom’s surface. When these hairs reach a length of 1/4 to 1/2 inch, it’s an ideal time to harvest. These hairs not only indicate maturity but also contribute to the mushroom’s unique texture and appearance.
A fresh Lion’s Mane mushroom will have a soft yet firm texture. As it matures, it might become slightly spongier. It’s best to harvest when the mushroom still retains some firmness to the touch, ensuring the best culinary experience.
Like other mushrooms, Lion’s Mane will go through a spore-releasing phase. While it’s still edible during this stage, harvesting just before the spore release ensures you get the mushroom at its flavorful and nutritional peak.
6. Getting more harvests
Mushroom cultivation is a gift that keeps on giving. While many assume that a mushroom grow kit is a one-time use product, in reality, with the right care and techniques, you can coax multiple harvests from a single kit. It’s not uncommon for dedicated cultivators to achieve a 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th fruiting from a single block, maximizing their yield and enjoying the fruits of their labor multiple times over. Let’s explore the steps to achieve these additional harvests.
After your initial harvest, the mycelium in your grow kit has expended a significant amount of energy producing mushrooms. Before initiating a second fruiting, it’s essential to give your kit a resting period. Allow the kit to rest for about one week. This pause gives the mycelium a chance to recuperate and gather energy for the next fruiting cycle.
One of the keys to initiating a new fruiting cycle is ensuring the substrate is adequately hydrated. After the resting period, submerge your grow kit underwater for 12-24 hours. This soaking allows the substrate to absorb the necessary moisture, preparing it for another round of fruiting. Ensure the kit is fully submerged, and after the soak, drain any excess water before placing it back in its growing environment.
If you prefer not to soak the kit or are aiming for subsequent harvests beyond the second, the spraying method is an alternative. Instead of a full soak, you’ll hydrate the growing medium by spraying it more heavily than usual. Use 50-100ml of water daily for 3-5 days. This method ensures the substrate absorbs the necessary moisture over a more extended period. After this intensive hydration phase, continue with your regular spraying routine to maintain the right moisture levels.
7. ADVANCED TECHNIQUES
Mushroom cultivation goes beyond the basics. For those eager to delve deeper, there’s a realm of advanced techniques that can optimize and elevate your cultivation experience. Developed by seasoned cultivators, these methods promise enhanced yields and unique outcomes. In this section, we’ll introduce you to these refined approaches, perfect for enthusiasts ready to up their mycology game.
A) USING A HUMIDITY TENT
Mushroom cultivation often requires specific environmental conditions to achieve optimal growth. One such tool to help regulate these conditions is the humidity tent. Here’s how to use it effectively for different mushroom varieties:
for Lion’s Mane:
Lion’s Mane mushrooms thrive in high humidity environments. To cater to this preference, using a humidity tent, like the one provided in the Nature Lion Lion’s Mane kit, can be beneficial. This tent, essentially a plastic bag with Fresh Air Exchange (FAE) holes, helps maintain the desired moisture levels around your mushrooms.
How to Use:
Place the provided tent over your growing block. Instead of spraying the mushrooms directly, mist the inside of the tent to create water droplets. This method ensures a humid environment without wetting the mushrooms, which can be counterproductive. However, it’s crucial to remember that while the tent aids in maintaining humidity, it can restrict airflow. To counter this, remove the tent at least once a day for an hour or two, allowing the mushrooms to breathe. Neglecting this step can lead to stunted growth or other cultivation issues due to reduced oxygen levels.
for Oyster and Chestnut:
While the use of a humidity tent for Oyster and Chestnut mushrooms isn’t typically recommended due to their preference for ample airflow, it can be beneficial when used judiciously. If you choose to use a tent for these varieties, the approach should be the opposite of that for Lion’s Mane. Instead of keeping the tent on continuously, place it over the mushrooms for just 1-2 hours daily. This brief period can enhance the water uptake, potentially boosting yields. However, be cautious. Extended tent usage can hinder these mushrooms, as they prioritize airflow. Restricting this can lead to growth issues or suboptimal yields.
B) EXPANDING INTO BUCKETS
Taking your mushroom cultivation to the next level involves expanding your grow space, and one effective method is by utilizing 5-gallon buckets. This approach allows cultivators to maximize yield from a single mushroom kit, spreading the mycelium across multiple containers and reaping the benefits of larger, more abundant harvests.
🪣 5-Gallon Bucket with Lid: The primary container for your expanded grow.
🌾 Chopped Wheat Straw: Acts as the substrate for mushroom growth.
🛌 Pillow Case: Useful for pasteurizing the straw.
🍲 Pot: To boil and pasteurize the straw.
🔩 Drill & 1/2″ Drill Bit: For creating ventilation holes in the bucket.
Substrate: Straw is a favored choice for many cultivators due to its ease of pasteurization and lower contamination rates. Its fibrous nature provides ample space for mycelium to grow and spread, leading to robust mushroom development.
Pasteurize: Boiling the chopped straw inside a pillowcase for two hours effectively pasteurizes it. After boiling, ensure you drain any excess water, preparing the straw for inoculation.
Prepare the Bucket: Using your drill and the 1/2″ bit, create 10-15 evenly spaced holes around the sides of the bucket. These will serve as ventilation points and fruiting sites.
Sanitation: A clean environment is paramount. Minimize airflow by turning off fans, furnaces, and closing windows. Ensure the area is spotless, wear freshly laundered clothes, take a shower, and maintain hand hygiene throughout the inoculation process.
Inoculation: Once the straw cools to 35C, it’s time to inoculate. Begin by layering about 8 inches of straw at the bucket’s base. Break up the contents of a Nature Lion grow kit, spread a portion of the mycelium over the straw, and repeat the layering process until the bucket is full. Seal with the lid once filled.
Colonization: Patience is key. Allow 3-6 weeks for the mycelium to colonize the bucket. During this phase, maintain a temperature range of 18C to 22C.
Fruiting: Upon full colonization, you’ll notice mushrooms starting to pin from the drilled holes. This signals the onset of the fruiting stage. Maintain appropriate fruiting conditions and watch as your mushrooms flourish.
📈 Increased Yield: More space means more mushrooms.
💰 Cost-Effective: Utilize one kit for multiple buckets.
🔄 Sustainability: Buckets are reusable for multiple grows.
🌱 Natural Environment: Straw mimics mushrooms’ natural growth medium.
🧪 Experimentation: Allows for trying different mushroom varieties.
C) OUTDOOR PLANTING
Growing mushrooms outdoors offers a unique opportunity to integrate mycology with natural environments. Whether you’re using logs or wood chip beds, the great outdoors can be an ideal setting for certain mushroom varieties. Here’s how to get started:
Making Mushroom Logs:
Select a Log: Choose freshly cut hardwood logs, ideally oak or maple, about 3-5 feet in length and 4-8 inches in diameter.
Drill Holes: Using a drill, create holes about 1 inch deep and spaced 6 inches apart in a diamond pattern along the log.
Inoculate: Take a Nature Lion mushroom kit and break up the contents. Use the mycelium to fill each drilled hole.
Seal: Cover each inoculated hole with wax to protect the mycelium from contaminants and retain moisture.
Position: Place the logs in a shaded area, preferably under a canopy of trees or a makeshift shade.
Maintain: Keep the logs moist by spraying them with water during dry periods. Avoid letting them dry out completely.
Wait: Over several months, the mycelium will colonize the log. Once fully colonized, the log will start fruiting, producing fresh mushrooms.
Wood Chip Beds:
Growing mushrooms in wood chip beds is an excellent method for certain varieties that thrive in such environments.
Materials: You’ll need fresh wood chips, preferably from hardwood trees, and a Nature Lion mushroom kit for inoculation.
Environment: Choose a shaded location in your garden or yard. The area should be well-draining and protected from strong winds.
Preparation: Lay down a layer of cardboard on the chosen spot. This acts as a barrier against weeds. Over this, spread a 4-6 inch layer of fresh wood chips.
Inoculation: Break up the contents of your Nature Lion mushroom kit and mix it evenly with the wood chips.
Maintenance: Keep the wood chip bed moist, especially during dry spells. Regular watering ensures the mycelium remains active and healthy.
Types of Mushrooms: Varieties like Wine Cap (Stropharia rugosoannulata) and certain types of Oyster mushrooms are particularly well-suited for wood chip beds.
D) CUTTING OPEN MUSHROOM BAGS
When it comes to mushroom cultivation, the way you open your mushroom bag can significantly influence the growth and yield of your fungi. Depending on the mushroom variety and your cultivation goals, you might opt for top-fruiting or side-fruiting methods. The size and type of opening can also affect the appearance, size, and number of mushrooms you harvest.
Traditional “X” Cut:
One of the most common methods is the “X” cut made on the side of the bag. For varieties like Oysters and Chestnut, an optimal cut ranges from 2-4 inches across. A larger “X” might lead to a higher number of mushrooms, but they could be smaller in size. Conversely, a smaller cut could yield fewer but larger mushrooms. For Lion’s Mane, a more delicate approach is advised. A smaller “X”, about 1-2 inches across, is ideal. This size ensures that the Lion’s Mane grows uniformly, reduces substrate on the fruiting body, and simplifies the harvesting process.
Commercial farms often employ another technique: poking holes into the mycelium blocks. These holes, ranging from 1/2″ to 1″ in diameter, serve as fruiting points. While this method is effective, it might lead to a slightly extended waiting period before the appearance of mushroom pins. The reason lies in oxygen availability. A smaller hole offers less oxygen to the substrate compared to a larger opening. Since oxygen is a primary trigger for mushroom growth from mycelium, this can slightly delay the fruiting process.
E) advanced misting
When diving into the intricate world of mushroom cultivation, one technique stands out as paramount: misting. Properly misting your mushroom growing kit can significantly influence your yield, ensuring your mushrooms grow to their fullest potential. Let’s delve into the art and science of advanced misting.
Initial Phase: The Heavy Mist
Once you cut open your mushroom growing kit, you’re embarking on a transformative journey. In these initial days, your substrate needs ample moisture. Aim to mist heavily, using approximately 15-30ml of water. This consistent, generous misting should be maintained for the first 3-4 days. You might find the need to mist up to three times per day, especially in the beginning.
When aiming your spray bottle at the substrate, remember that distance is key. Position the bottle 12-18″ away from the growing medium. Think of it as a gentle rain shower for your mushrooms. Aggressive spraying risks damaging the delicate mycelium. Opt for a fine, gentle mist from a distance. It’s a more refined technique that ensures your mushrooms get the moisture they need without causing harm.
X Marks the Spot
After cutting an X shape into the mushroom bag, you’ll find yourself with four flaps. Ever so gently, lift these flaps and administer a fine mist onto the substrate. The goal is a delicate balance: you want the substrate wet, but not drenched. Remember, a subtle touch goes a long way. It’s far better to spray less water more frequently than to drown the mycelium in enthusiasm.
Maintenance Phase: Keeping Up the Humidity
As days progress, you’re not looking to flood the mushrooms, but rather maintain the surface-level humidity. Once your mushrooms begin to sprout, transition to misting 1-2 times per day using about 10-20ml of water. And while it’s okay for the mushrooms to get a little wet occasionally, that isn’t your primary aim. Mushrooms absorb water from the air, so as you mist around them, and as that water evaporates, they’ll take in the moisture they need to flourish.
Pro Tip: A Bowl of Bounty
Consider this: placing a bowl of water near your mushroom kit can be a game-changer. This simple act can significantly increase humidity in the environment, potentially leading to richer yields. It’s a small step with a big impact.
f) long term storage
Mushroom kits, like all fresh products, come with a shelf life. Specifically, our kits are optimized for a period of 2 months. Naturally, for best results, it’s recommended to commence your mushroom growing journey as soon as you receive your kit. Yet, life happens, and sometimes you need to delay that journey.
Understanding the Filter Patch
Each mushroom kit bag is thoughtfully equipped with a filter patch. This isn’t just a decorative feature. This patch plays a pivotal role in allowing CO2 to exchange, facilitating the mycelium’s growth within the sealed environment. It’s like a tiny, breathable window for your developing fungi.
Refrigerating a Fully Colonized Block
Should you notice that your block is bursting with white, fully colonized mycelium and you’re not ready to grow just yet, there’s a workaround. By simply placing some tape over the filter patch, you can effectively seal off the airflow. With this simple modification, your kit can be tucked away inside a fridge for an impressive duration of up to 5 months. It’s essentially a little hibernation phase for your fungi.
Reacclimatizing After Cold Storage
Here’s a key point to remember: fungi, much like us, aren’t huge fans of abrupt climate changes. After their extended chilly vacation, give your mushrooms a cozy week at room temperature. This gentle transition time helps them acclimate, preparing them for their imminent growth phase.
In conclusion, while immediate use of the mushroom kit promises optimal results, with a little care, long-term storage can work wonders too. Whether you’re diving in now or later, your mushroom adventure awaits.
7. common misconceptions
Mushroom cultivation, while incredibly rewarding, is riddled with myths and misconceptions. These myths can sometimes hinder budding mycologists and mushroom enthusiasts. Let’s delve into some of the most common misconceptions and set the record straight.
MUSHROOMS ONLY GROW IN THE DARK
One of the most enduring myths is that mushrooms, being fungi, thrive only in the dark. While it’s true that they don’t rely on photosynthesis like plants, many mushroom species actually prefer some amount of ambient light. Light can act as a signal for many mushroom species, triggering them to initiate fruiting and sometimes influencing the direction in which they grow. So, no, your mushrooms don’t necessarily want to be kept in the dark!
MUSHROOMS GROW ON POOP
Yes, many mushrooms thrive on dung, but that’s just a small fraction of the fungi world! There are wood-loving mushrooms, such as shiitake and oyster mushrooms, that prefer to grow on logs, wood chips, or similar substrates. Additionally, there are also insect-loving fungi, like the cordyceps, that have a unique relationship with insects. Mushrooms are incredibly diverse, and their growing preferences are a testament to that.
ONCE CONTAMINATED, IT’S DONE
Contamination, the bane of every mushroom cultivator, isn’t always the end of the line. While it’s true that certain contaminations can overpower and ruin a mushroom culture, many times, mushrooms can still grow despite some contamination. Experienced cultivators often learn techniques to rescue a batch or to cut away and isolate the healthy portion from the contaminated area. It’s not always a lost cause!
THEY AREN’T ALWAYS SPORES
Starting a mushroom culture from spores is just one of the many ways. In fact, many cultivators work with tissue cultures of known mushroom varieties. These tissue cultures, often grown on agar or grain, are taken from a part of a mature mushroom and can be a more predictable way to grow certain mushroom strains. It’s not always about the spores!
I DON’T LIKE THE TEXTURE
When people say they dislike mushrooms, they often cite texture as the primary reason. However, mushrooms are incredibly varied in texture, and different cooking techniques can significantly alter their mouthfeel. For instance, shiitake mushrooms can be chewy when sautéed but crispy when baked. Oyster mushrooms can be tender and delicate, while portobellos can be meaty. Exploring different mushroom varieties and cooking methods can completely transform your mushroom experience.
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