Stage 1: Inoculation
You want to be in a nice clean environment, or as clean as you can possibly find. A kitchen surface wiped down with isopropyl alcohol will do the job, make sure to eliminate as much draft as possible from your work space.
2. Take your spore/culture syringe and shake it vigorously to disperse the solution.
3. Quickly remove the protective cap from the syringe, and replace it with the sterile needle. Do not remove the needle cover just yet!
4. Give each rubber injection port a good wipe down with the alcohol wipe before injecting the solution.
5. Remove the cover from the needle and pierce one of the rubber injection ports. Avoid getting any contaminants on the needle prior to injecting the kit.
6. You can always flame sterilise your needle with a lighter if you don’t think it is sterile enough, give it time to cool before injecting.
7. Push the needle in as far as it will go, making sure the tip is visible against the side wall of the pot.
8. Gently compress the plunger and inject around 1-2ml of solution into the injection port. You want to aim to inject down the sides of the pot, as shown above.
9. After injecting the solution, remove the needle from the injection port. Repeat steps 4-8 for the remaining injection ports.
Stage 2: Colonisation
1. Once inoculated, put your grow pots somewhere dark and away from direct sunlight. A cupboard works perfectly.
2. It is vital that you never break the seal and open your grow pots before they are fully colonised and ready to fruit.
3. Keep your grow pots between 21-26°c for the fastest growth. Try not to exceed 26° or you increase the risk of contamination.
4. After about a week, you should start to see the first signs of colonisation. Healthy mycelium should appear first as fluffy white specs on the substrate.
5. For the next 4-8 weeks the mycelium will colonise the substrate, until it has eaten all of it and forms a white ‘cake’. Our desired mushrooms will eventually sprout from this cake.
6. Let your cakes consolidate for an extra one week. This will increase your yield. Again, you do not need to wait for the top layer to colonise for it to be ready.
Stage 3: Fruiting
1. Remove the lids from the grow pots. Pour regular tap water gently into the grow pots until they are full and soaking the cakes. Replace the lid and let it soak for 12-24hrs.
2. After 12-24hrs hours of soaking, carefully drain the grow pots by cracking the lid open slightly and pouring away the excess water. Do not worry if some of the top layer vermiculite escapes.
3. Place the grow box inside the fruiting tent as shown above, with the filter patch and opening of the bag at the top. You can now remove the lids from the pots, but do not throw them away yet!
4. Close the fruiting tent up by folding the top over and sealing in place with the paper clips provided. Place the fruiting tent in a warm spot between 20-24°c, where they can receive some indirect sunlight.
5. You want to mist the inner walls of the fruiting tent once a day with the mister bottle provided. Close the bag up once finished.
6. After about 10-14 days you should see your first pins, which are baby mushroom fruits. Reduce the misting to once every couple of days
Stage 4: Harvesting
1. After a few days of maturing, the veils will break as the mushroom caps start to flatten out. At this point, they are ready for harvest. You can either use scissors or a scalpel to cut the mushrooms off the cake.
2. After harvesting the first flush you can prepare the grow box for your next flush. Soak your grow box again, as described in Stage 3- steps 1 and steps 3.
3. Keep repeating until your grow pots no longer produce fruits, or until it get’s contaminated.
Optimising Your Grow: Tips and Tricks
- Always try to be as sterile as possible, you can never take sterility too far. You don’t want to put all this time, effort and money in only to get a contamination that ruins your grow.
- After you have misted the inside of the fruiting tent, put the grow pots back in. Then lightly fan the inside of the fruiting tent with a book, or something similar.
- If you want to give your mushrooms some more fresh air, you can leave the bag slightly open for a few hours each day. Make sure to close it back up again by folding the top over loosely.
- As cakes get older sitting in the fruiting tent, they are more likely to contaminate, so if you see any signs of contamination in one of your cakes. Immediately throw it far away to avoid contaminating the rest. To also avoid contaminating the rest of your cakes, you can clean out the fruiting tent and rinse off the cakes as well, washing off any of those mould spores which could have been spread around.
- You can increase your yield by taking your cake out of the container, you then want to soak these cakes in a large bowl of water it for 12 hours. You want to prepare your fruiting tent by putting the perlite at the bottom of the bag, and then placing small squares of tin foil on top. After your cakes have been soaking for 12 hours, rinse them off and place them on top of the foil. Proceed to fruit your cakes as normal by fanning and misting.
- If you are using a heating matt, be aware that it can cause stalling. Because the uneven heating of the matt, it warms up and dries out the bottom layer of your substrate. This is what can cause it to stall. So you might want to turn your heating matt off every now and then to try to prevent this. If you are using one of our incubators then you will be fine to keep it at optimal temperatures at all times, as the incubator heats the entire area evenly, which maintains a balanced and stable heating environment. Just make sure the temperatures do not exceed 27° when using our incubators, as they can get very warm.
TROUBLESHOOTING: TIPS AND TRICKS
Grow smarter, grow better!
Growing mushrooms is not like growing plants. In fact, fungi are more closely related to humans than plants. As a beginner, it is crucial to familiarise yourself with the quirks and oddities of mushrooms, so that you can grow both smarter and better.
The Waiting Game
When growing mushrooms, it can be hard to resist the urge to check your kit or grain spawn every five minutes. It’s exciting! However, patience is key to success.
Most of the time, you can expect to see the first signs of colonisation after 5 days. However, don’t be disheartened if you don’t see the white stuff as soon as this. Colonisation can take up to 2 or 3 weeks to begin. This is especially true when using spores to inoculate grain spawn. Be patient and the results will come.
If you have to wait longer than 3 weeks, there is probably an issue that needs addressing. Reach out to a member of our team to see how we can help.
Stalled or Slow Growth
If you are experiencing slow growth, try moving your kit or grain spawn to a warmer spot in the house. Ideally above 21°C. However, try not to exceed temperatures above 26°C as this promotes the growth of other competitive moulds or bacteria, which is definitely no bueno.
Sometimes, mycelium will begin to grow quite happily and then stall. If you are using a kit, you can flip the grow box or pots upside down for a few days, so that the filtered lid becomes the base. After 3 or 4 days, flip the kit back again (filter side up) to alleviate CO2 build up.
Mycelium will produce its own heat as it grows. Therefore, the inside of the substrate will usually be a few degrees higher than the ambient room temperature. This temperature differential may cause some light condensation to build up inside the grow kit or grain spawn, but don’t worry this is normal and healthy as the mycelium develops.
However, pooling of water or sludgy looking substrate may be a sign of contamination. See the point below for more detail on contamination and how to spot it.
Sometimes, mature mycelium will turn a creamy yellow colour as it releases metabolites. This is most common at higher incubation temperatures, so try and keep things a little cooler.
Blue, black, green or red growth is usually a sign of bacterial or fungal contamination. Bad smells are also a sure sign that there is a contamination within the substrate. Contamination is the bane of all mushroom growers. Sadly, once it has taken hold it can be very difficult to treat. Your kit or grain spawn must be disposed of if contaminated.
Not to be confused with contamination. Mycelium can take on a blue colouration when bruised. This is usually not an issue, just limit the touching or moving of your kit or grain spawn. The mycelium will recover pretty rapidly.
If you see blue colouration during fruiting or when spawning your grain, a simple way to check for bruising is with the Q-Tip or cotton swab test. Simply dab the cotton swab onto the blue coloured area lightly, and inspect the tip of the swab. If the swab is clean, the mycelium is bruised. If there is colour on the swab, this is due to mould spores and you should dispose of your kit or spawn.
If you are using a grow kit, you might notice that the top layer will not colonise. This casing layer is made of inert vermiculite to protect the mycelium below, so does not provide any nutrients for mycelia growth. Therefore, you do not need to wait for it to colonise before fruiting.
The fruiting and yield of your mushrooms will depend mostly on its genetics. You may get all your mushrooms growing in uniform crops or ‘flushes’. Or, they may grow more sporadically. If they grow sporadically, pick them as they mature. If they grow in uniform flushes, pick all the mushrooms at once and then prep for subsequent flushes.
After you have harvested your first flush, you may notice the substrate is starting to look dry. Using a fine mister or spray bottle, mist heavily directly onto the substrate to rehydrate it.
We hope you have found these tips and tricks useful. If you have a question that was not covered here, please do not hesitate to reach out to a member of our team.