Where to start
Welcome to the wonderful world of mycology! It lands somewhere between the science lab and the garden.
Fun Fungi Facts
- There are about 14,000 identified mushrooms around the world.
- 3,000 of them are edible!
- At least 270 of them have research or claims to be of medicinal value.
In order to propagate any of these mushrooms will take time and a bit of research, but we're here to give you a head start.
This is the source of food for the Fungi and just like us, certain mushrooms like certain things. Here's a simplified list of substrates you can use.
- Straw- It is a good source for a wide variety of mushrooms because they find it easy to break down the straw and form mycelium. It usually requires pasteurization vs. sterilization to get rid of any microorganisms that the mycelium would have to compete with.
- hardwood pellets/ sawdust- You will need to choose the proper hardwood for you we use oak wood pellets, but if you choose sawdust make sure that the sawdust is not too fine because it tends to pack too densely and deprive the mycelium of air. You're also going to need to add some enrichment for a higher mushroom yield because the sawdust lacks the proper nutrient requirement and therefore needs to be enriched with a nitrogen supplement such as soy.
- log- Elm, ash, alder, cottonwood, oak, and beech are all hardwoods that will keep longer to produce mushrooms. The key to success when using logs to grow mushrooms is researching the mushroom you're trying to grow and matching it to the proper type of wood it likes.
- Compost- organic compost specifically designed for mycological use with compost loving mushrooms, it provides the perfect amount of nutrition for optimal mycelial growth, making it the ideal growing medium for these types of mushrooms.
Prepping Your Substrate
Pasteurization- Pasteurization is the process of applying low heat to kill pathogens in your fruiting substrates. It does not kill bacterial spores, so pasteurization does not truly sterilize. It is generally used with spawn because the spawn is already growing vigorously and can out-compete most organisms. It is usually cheaper than sterilization and requires less equipment and energy. You're going to have to do some research on which way to pasteurize fits your grow best and apply it. Do not pre-pasteurize your substrate, have it ready when you're going to use it. Whichever method you choose is a pasteurization technique, not sterile.
Sterilization- Sterilization of mushroom substrates is a method of preparing substrates using a combination of steam, time, temperature and pressure to kill living organisms and spores. In order for your substrate to be considered sterilized, you need temperatures higher than 250°F (121°C) for a minimum of 2 hours. Most mushroom growers will need 15 PSI of pressure to increase the temperature of the steam to 250°F (121°C). Depending on the amount of substrate, size of your steam sterilizer, and more you will need to take into consideration the time for the sterilization process.
What should I order?
Spores- Spores are often said to be like plant seeds (mushroom seeds referred to by the novice), and their name comes from the Greek word sporā, which means ‘seed.’ But although their purpose is the same, spores are not the same as seeds. Unlike more evolved plant species, mushrooms don’t create seeds. Instead, they have what are called “spores” which are self-contained cells that are designed for reproduction. They cannot be seen by the naked eye unless grouped together like a spore print. When the spores spread, they meet, and create mycelium.
On Liquid Fungi we do not have spores available only live mycelium. If you are looking for Psilocybe cubensis spores for research purposes we recommend exoticfungi.com
Liquid Culture- A self-contained sterile nutrient rich broth carrying live mycelium. It provides the perfect setting for mycelium to flourish swiftly so that it can be used to inoculate a grain or substrate. At this point it is almost like taking a plant clipping, or a piece of the roots and placing it in the center of a "flower pot." It's already alive, you just have to give it the proper conditions to keep growing,
Liquid culture is used for expansion of mycelium, or inoculation of a substrate. Be aware of over saturation; the mycelium needs to dry into the substrate before it can grow onto it. Under mixing; if you don’t properly emulsify the liquid culture into the substrate it can cause the mycelium to have a very slow growth process.
Grain Spawn-Grain spawn is made from sterilized grains (rye berries in our case) That have then been inoculated with live mycelium. These inoculated grains are consumed by the growing mass of mycelium.
This is the step where your mushrooms get picky if it's a composting mushroom, your grain bag will have compost in it with the rye.
***If you have a carnivorous mushroom (usually grows out of a bug or needs that sort of protein) you will usually have to omit the bag and use a grain jar with calcium and a protein replacement like nutritional yeast or egg. I cannot stress enough to research the strain of mushroom you're intending to grow. (If you're asking yourself what mushrooms would need to be grown like this? first popular one is cordyceps militaris)
A fully inoculated grain block is used for grain-to-grain transfers, or grain to substrate transfers. Unlike Liquid Culture, grain spawn has surface area for the mycelium to cling to. The grain Spawn is pre-hydrated therefore it doesn't offset the moisture level in your grow bag when you inoculate. Your mycelium "roots" swiftly making grain spawn the premium choice for both novice and seasoned mushroom growers.
Plug Spawn- Plug Spawn are hardwood dowels inoculated with a specific type of mushroom, which are used for outdoor mushroom cultivation. They are easy to use and produce outstanding results. They should only be used on freshly cut hardwood such as oak or maple, and it is best to find logs about 6 inches wide and 4 feet long. If you inoculate a living tree, it will eventually kill it if you are successful.
Once hardwood is inoculated, it is prolific! We mix in sugars and foods to speed up the fruiting process, but when left to its own, hardwood takes it's time and creates higher yield flushes because the food available isn't sugar, only nutrition.