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Mushrooms Substrate Secrets – Producing the Biggest Yields

Mushrooms Substrate Secrets – Producing the Biggest Yields

Mushrooms are very easy and profitable to grow, but things can wrong if you don’t get your ducks in the row. One of those ducks are substrates – bases for growing mushrooms. They are as important as the soil is for growing any other crop.

However, substrates are much more forgiving than soil since their composition is easier to control and can be reproduced anywhere, anytime. They are also a lot more forgiving when it comes to experimentation. And let’s not even talk about space limitations.

Having a good substrate is crucial – you can have the state of the art growing chambers and other equipment, but if the foundation is shaky, the whole house will fall. Luckily, this is not brain surgery and it’s relatively easy to figure out what type of substrate you need and how you should take care of it.

What do mushrooms like to eat?

Fungi in general have three different types of diet they gravitate to.

A lot of people believe that all mushrooms are parasites, but as it happens, it’s only a portion of species that can be called that. They feed by latching on a living host and draining it of nutrients. This usually ends in the host’s death. This is what honey and lobster mushrooms do, as well as the infamous cordyceps.

Saprophytic fungi feed on the dead matter. This means anything from anything that is just about to start their new career in pushing up daisies, up to ye good olde compost. Here we are talking about the majority of fungi that are “mass-produced” for human consumption – shiitake, oyster, portabella, button mushrooms, etc.

And mycorrhizal fungi are a combination of both. They both the dead and decaying matter, as well as get nutrients from the plants they are rooming with. They often form a symbiotic relationship with those plants and help them gain nutrients or abilities that they don’t usually have (ie better response to stimuli). This group is represented by truffles and the magic mushroom itself, fly agaric.

The last group is the most difficult to cultivate on a substrate (with truffles being particularly uncooperative). However, we can easily reproduce a perfect growing environment for the first two.

What are the best kinds of substrates?


Straw is a top choice of substrate material for most growers since it provides amazing yields and is suitable for numerous types of mushrooms. It’s also very cheap. Straw from any cereal can be used, and you can even experiment to see which one will suit your crop the best.

But, two things. One, this stuff can get seriously messy so it’s not suitable for a small apartment or garage-based operation. And two, you must sterilize it properly since it’s very easy for some microorganisms and other fungi to sneak in and compete with your crop for nutrition.


Sawdust is a must-have for any species that typically grown on trees and tree roots. It will provide all the nutrients that the mushroom was getting from it, but at the same time, it can be mixed with other things for maximum performance. Bran is one of the items that often end up in such mixtures, but anything is possible as long as the mushroom likes it.

Growers usually use oak, beech, and maple, which makes them ideal for growing oysters.


Bring in the logs when the sawdust is not good enough.

This kind of substrate is best if you have access to some woods and want to grow your crop in a more natural environment. There’s no need for special chambers and humidifiers, plus the logs are reusable without too much additional prep.

But don’t expect the same yield as you would get indoors. And you will have to deal with seasons.

Soy hulls

Soy hulls are the byproduct of soybean oil production. They are extremely rich in nutrients and are suitable for growing most species of edible mushrooms. In fact, soy hulls are one of the favorites of large commercial growers since they are not as messy and suitable for factory settings.

The hulls are cheap to buy, and you can even get them for free from a local oil producer if you have one. The only issue is that it doesn’t provide as great of a yield as straw does.


Coco coir and vermiculite

Coco coir is a mixture of ground coconut hulls and shells. Vermiculite is a silicate material that is often used in planting. They are quite often used together, but you can fud them separately in different bulk substrate recipes.

Just don’t mix up coco coir with coco fiber – they are quite similar, but the latter is completely useless to you.


It’s usually used as a part of a recipe for a substrate instead of on its own. It’s usually sterilized twice before use.

The button mushrooms you’ve picked up at the supermarket last week were probably grown on a manure-based substrate.

Compost and other waste product

They are decaying, so saprophytic fungi will come over for lunch.

Compost is usually used either on its own, or it can be mixed with manure and other materials to make a bulk substrate.

How to make the best mushroom substrates

The best substrate is the one that matches the spawn and mushroom you’re growing. Though you can make a safe bet by matching the substrate to the host said shroom latches on in nature (ie wood shavings for ones that grow on logs). Always start by doing in-depth research on your species of choice.

Of course, you can start the other way round as well and choose a substrate before you pick a species (or several) of mushrooms that go well with it.


How to pasteurize and sterilize your substrates

Pasteurization is pretty simple – all you have to do is to keep the substrate temperature in the range between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. The easiest way to do this is by boiling it in a plastic bag. And if you want to make your life easier, you can get a sous-vide circulator that will do all the work for you.

Make sure to cool down the substrate completely before you inoculate it.

Sterilization can happen in several different ways. The cheapest and easiest is scalding, aka submerging the substrate in hot water. Another easy method is by using chemicals, but that one can get pricey very quickly.

You can also soak the substrate in a lime solution for one day, or mix in with compost for one week.

People on the internet seem to like the pressure cooker method the most. It makes sense since it’s fairly easy, quick, and foolproof. Once the cooker reaches 15 psi, you just have to leave it all there for 45 minutes. And there’s no need for a fancy setup – a decent quality model that’s designed for home use will do.

The most labor-intensive one is the process called tyndallization. It consists of several cycles where the substrate is treated at different temperatures for 72 hours. You start by bringing the material to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, then keep it at 99 degrees for 12 hours. Repeat the cycle over and over, and finish with a final 30 minutes at 212 degrees.

What substrates produce the highest yields of mushrooms?

Straw based substrate comes at number one here. It’s followed up by sawdust, soy hulls, and manure.

But that’s just the starting point. Different species of mushrooms require a different cocktail of nutrients and each will have a base that works better for them. Also, there are the things you do and the environment you’re growing the mushrooms in.

Straw is a decent place to start, but you should never stop experimenting and trying to see what works best for you.

What’s a bulk substrate and how it’s made?

Bulk substrates are mixtures of several nutritious materials that are used to grow mushrooms. The most important way they differ from the regular kind is that they can’t be inoculated with liquid culture or spore solution. You need to create something called grain spawn (usually millet or rye grain that is inoculated with mushroom spores), and then that’s mixed into the bulk substrate.

The bulk substrates themselves consist of multiple ingredients, with at least one of them being animal manure. Regular plant compost can also be used, but it’s not a great replacement for manure in this case.

Multiple recipes are floating about cyberspace, and which one is ideal depends solely on the species of mushrooms you’re growing. Most of them have only 2 or 3 ingredients, but there ones where the list goes into the double digits. Pretty much, it’s safe to assume that the ones with more ingredients will also be more nutritious.

Bulk substrates must also be pasteurized before adding the grain spawn. Sterilization is a no-go since it can kill some of the goodies from the compost and manure.

When growing with bulk substrates, growing chambers are a must. Some monitoring equipment will not hurt either, since you will have to keep an eye on what else (if anything) is growing in there with your shrooms.

All species of mushrooms like this method of growing, no matter if they are edible or medicinal. The trick is only in finding the recipe that suits your chosen species the most.


What are the best mushroom fruiting conditions?

The ideal temperature for fruiting is between 70 and 79 degrees Fahrenheit. And, as it’s the case with mushrooms at any time, the area should also be dark and damp.

The ideal humidity level is about 9-% Mycelium is perfectly able to maintain humidity on its own when it grows, but it will need a lot of help in those early weeks. You can easily do this with the help of humidifiers, or by misting the crops regularly.

Fresh airflow is also very important. You will need to provide as much of it as they would have if they were growing in the wild.

But before you start with setting up any of that stuff, you will have to ensure that everything is clean and sanitized. Washing the area with soap and water will do the trick, but you can also follow it up with a disinfectant to be on the safe side.

There must be no mold before you start growing since it’s easy for it to take over everything.

What temperature does mycelium grow best in?

Shrooms like to be somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The slight deviation may slow their growth and lessen the yield, but extreme fluctuations will kill the whole crop.

What do I do so I don’t kill my mycelium?

The most significant thing is to maintain the ideal temperature. Most importantly, never crank up the heat. Cold may send it to sleep, but the heat will kill both the mushroom and its spores.

Other than that, try to avoid acidic environments and solutions. Vinegar is a common ingredient in many home fungicide recipes because mushrooms are not very keen on the acid. In fact, when exposed to it, they will dry out and die. So, keep an eye on the pH of the substrate and the water in the humidifiers.

How long can you expect your mycelium to live?

At the normal room temperature, you can expect about 6 to 8 weeks of life without spoilage. This is, of course, after they have fully grown (with the average growing period of a lot of edible mushrooms being about 3 weeks).

If you want to preserve your mushrooms for longer, you will have to move them to the fridge. You’ll get at the very least about 3 more months out of them, though you can double that with additional effort and attention to temperature consistency and other environmental parameters.

Proper storage can get you even years of life, with some growers and labs reporting that they still have specimens that have been around for decades.


How long can a mushroom substrate last?

Once you’ve pasteurized your substrate, you have at least a couple of days (if not up to 2 weeks) to proceed with your next step. Though keep in mind that most growers prefer to use it as soon as possible. They also report diminished yields if they leave their substrates to linger around too long after pasteurization.

But how long a substrate cake can last once you receive it and while it’s still in the original packaging, depends on the manufacturer. They will provide you with detailed info about the expiry date as well as the best storage solutions. As a ballpark, you are looking at 6 months on average, but still, consult with your supplier before you buy it if you don’t plan to use it straight away.

The dry materials are very shelf-stable, but you will have to make sure they stay dry and that they don’t start developing mold.

How long can a mushroom substrate last once I start using it?

Usually, anything from a couple of weeks to months (and in rare cases, years). This truly depends on how you use it and what species of mushroom you’re growing.

If you are reusing a substrate, pay attention to your yield. Once the numbers go down by about 10%, it’s a decent sign that it’s time to retire it. You could try and squeeze one more crop out of it, but don’t plan on using it for any longer after that.

Proper substrate storage for longevity

When your order comes in, more often than not the original packaging will be enough to keep your substrate in tip-top condition until you’re ready to use. Unless the manufacturer has stated otherwise, you can pretty much move it somewhere cool and dry, and be done with it.

But once you open the package, the only thing that will help in the long run is vacuum packing. Regular airtight containers are a decent first-aid solution, but you will have to break out the big guns if you need to store your substrate for weeks or longer.

A standard vacuum sealer that you can pick up at a local big box store will do the trick for a small family farm (especially if you’re okay with packing it in smaller chunks). Anything bigger than that, you will have to go commercial-grade.

How many times can I reuse a mushroom substrate?

The answer to this question depends on the original type of mushroom you were growing, which species do plan to grow after, and how you’re going about all of it. But in any case, it’s safe to say that you can get at least a couple of extra uses from a substrate.

When it comes to edible mushrooms, you can freely reuse a substrate to grow several crops. Shiitake, for example, grow rather well on a substrate that was previously used for the same type of crop.

Medicinal mushrooms are a little bit more problematic and finicky. As in, you will not get a second generation of the crop with the same substrate. However, you can at the very worst squeeze out one batch of regular edible mushrooms.

Your best bet is to use the spent substrate to inoculate the new one. You pretty much have to crumble and mix them, then leave them to incubate.

Also, if you want to get the most out of all your substrates, remember to “rotate” the crops. Generation after generation, you will get a better yield if you’re not growing the same species on the same substrate (even if the said substrate was already used numerous times before).

mushroom compost-in. pot

What can I do with the mushroom substrate when spent?

First and foremost, you can compost it or use it on its own to fertilize and grow other crops or regular plants. Even when it becomes unsuitable for growing mushrooms, it’s still full of amazing nutrients that can do some fantastic things for your veg.

SMS (spent mushroom substrate) is ideal for freshly seeded lawns. Not only will it feed the soil and help the lawn grow to be rich and lush, but it will also provide physical protection from the birds that may decide to snack on the seeds. Just make sure the substrate is at least 6 months old before you start using it for these two applications – this is to prevent any unwelcome reappearances of the mushrooms you were growing due to leftover spores.

Another use (that doesn’t require a proper lab) is as a source of energy. Even with a small mushroom farm, you can produce enough biogas to serve the needs of your household. If your production is on a lot larger scale, you could even make some money out of it. If you want to learn more about this in detail, this paper covers everything in detail, from pre-treatment and storage to the processing options.

All other applications require more tinkering and some specialized equipment. SMS can be used as food for some animals, but it will need some processing before it’s safe to consume.

Several interesting compounds can be extracted with all that extra tinkering. Some of them can neutralize various ait, water, and soil contaminants, while others can be used to produce a plant hormone that can vastly increase the yield of vegetables and legumes.

How to enjoy the process

At this point. someone could say that your mushroom farm is like a pet. However, the truth is that it’s more like a little Tamagochi egg – a lot easier to grow and take care of. Well, at least when compared to other types of farming.

What’s unique and most satisfying about growing mushrooms is the speed at which everything is happening. You can see the fruits of your labor in weeks, instead of months or even years. And this is what gives you the freedom to play.

Of course, you will have to do what you know works best to secure your profits, but you can also have a small sample with which you can pretend to be a mad scientist. That’s what’s going to bring more color into the sometimes monochrome rut of growing and harvesting.

So, just let yourself go and have fun experimenting. Embrace all mistakes and failures, and celebrate every success. Who knows, maybe you’ll even make a big enough discovery to earn you a mention on the Saturday morning news.

Can I Use Mushroom Compost in Plant Pots?

Can I Use Mushroom Compost in Plant Pots?

Yes, you can use mushroom compost in minimal amounts mixed with the soil in your plant pots. However, this should only be done if the pots have good drainage since mushroom compost retains a lot of water. Without proper drainage, the soil will become waterlogged and spongy. Waterlogged soils create environments for rotting and fungal infections, all of which are harmful to your plants.

If you are going to use mushroom compost in your potted plants, mix the compost and soil in a ratio of 1:3. The high soil content will dilute the salt and in the compost. The mixing should be done before planting in the containers. As a result, your plants benefit from the gradual release of vital nutrients due to the compost slow-release fertilizing effect.

What is Mushroom Compost?

So, what exactly is mushroom compost, and what would you be interested in using it for your potted plants? Mushroom compost is the medium used and generated during the growth of mushrooms. The name may have you thinking that it is a type of compost derived from dead mushrooms, but that is not the case.

Mushroom compost usually consists of an organic substance, often hay or straw. This substance is then mixed with horse manure, poultry, or gypsum. The mixture is then pasteurized and to remove weeds and other microorganisms. At this point, the compost is known as the mushroom substrate. The compost can then be used as it is, or it is inoculated with mushroom spores.

When used to grow mushrooms, sphagnum moss tops up the compost to promote growth. The mix is then stored in a dark, moist, and growing environment. Three weeks later, the mushrooms are ready for harvesting. Once harvesting is done, farmers sterilize the excess fertilizer and recycle it to become spent mushroom compost.

Both unspent and spent mushroom compost or substrate can be used to plant crops. Spent mushroom is the most common type of mushroom compost that is sold for use in gardens.

However, the spent compost has lesser nutrients since the mushrooms have used most of them, especially nitrogen. Still, it makes an excellent source of organic compost that can be used to grow various plants, including vegetables, flowers, and fruits.

Mushroom Compost Benefits

Mushroom compost has a high ability to hold water, making it perfect for improving water transmission in the soil. It also helps the soil maintain its moisture content, and that makes it excellent for mulching. For plants that require plenty of hydration, mushroom compost is a useful addition, especially if you cannot water them frequently.

The high moisture content is also an excellent resource where water conservation is essential. Using mushroom compost can cut down the amount of water you need to grow plants by almost half. It is an eco-friendly material and safe for your garden since it does not contain added material that could pollute your soil.

Because of its straw base, mushroom compost is suitable when you need to break down dense clay soils. In such situations, it helps improve the structure and drainage of the soils and make them conducive to plants’ growth.

This type of compost also contains a limited amount of nitrogen, which plants can use to grow and develop foliage. Its slow-releasing effect ensures the soil does not become nutrient-dense such that it promotes weeds to thrive.

Mushroom compost is also an effective lawn or turf conditioner, and it helps improve the soil quality. It is especially excellent when you used on acidic soils that have low organic matter. Its liming effect can help improve the fertility of the soil.

Finally, it is a readily available resource to improve your soils for the growth of plants. It is also sold cheaply, giving you a high return on your investment. You can get mushroom compost at garden centers, manure suppliers, or from the mushroom farms near you. Alternatively, you can create your own mushroom compost, limiting the amount of chalk in it and preserving the nutrients.

mushroom compost-in. pot

The Risk of Mushroom Compost

While the benefits outweigh any risks that could come from it, caution should be exercised, and in the following conditions, you should avoid using it.

First, do not use mushroom compost on plants that do not like plenty of water or demand good drainage. Plants like succulents will not thrive in mushroom compost. If you do not have clear drainage for potted plants, you should also avoid mushroom compost.

Mushroom compost also contains a high content of soluble salts. These can be harmful to plants that are sensitive to salts. While you reduce the salt concentration by mixing the mushrooms with soil, avoid using the compost with either young seedlings or germinating seeds. Finally, the use of mushroom compost can be detrimental if it is made using chalk and used on plants that prefer acidic soil.

Plants Which You Can Use Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is excellent for several potted plants and other vegetables. In such plants, it serves as an organic light fertilizer. Its high calcium amount helps plants like tomatoes whose blossoming can suffer from a deficiency of the mineral. Its ability to retain water is also useful for plants that require frequent hydration, like hibiscus and some tropical plants.

Other plants that can benefit from mushroom compost include;

· Winter jasmine

· Lilac and yew bushes

· Lavender

· Easter lilies

· Meadow rue

· Bearded iris kiwi

· Boston ivy

· Horse chestnut

· Virginia creeper

· Brussel sprouts

· Kohlrabi

· Kale

· Broccoli

Plants That You Should Not Use Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost is not suitable for plants that prefer acidic or infertile soils. Such plants are known as ericaceous plants and include;

· Camelias

· Azaleas

· Magnolia

· Aster

· Ferns

· Cranberries

· Rhododendron

· Lupine

· Juniper

· Gardenia

· Blueberry

· Bleeding heart


The best practice of using mushrooms is to mix it with your soil before planting seeds or laying new turf. Once the plants on turf has grown, you can later add some compost on top to act as mulch or improve the appearance. This way, the limited nutrients move slowly, feeding the plants without encouraging the growth of weeds.

When used in the right proportions and the right manner for the right plants and soils, mushroom compost can prove highly beneficial.

Growing Monster Mushrooms with Super Substrates

Growing Monster Mushrooms with Super Substrates

If you are considering mushroom farming, you must consider a few factors to yield great results. The main elements are; the substrate, temperature, gas exchange, water, and mushroom species.

You also need to know that mushrooms are classified into three types;

· Primary decomposer- this type of decomposer is grown on all types of substrates

· Secondary decomposer- it thrives on an already decomposed substrate

· Tertiary decomposer- it grows on the remains of the secondary decomposer

To grow monster mushrooms, you need to pay attention to your substrate choice and the decomposer class your mushroom species falls under. It would be best to grow the right type of mushroom on the right type of substrate to yield a good harvest.

What do mushrooms like to eat?

Like any other living organism, mushrooms too need to eat to grow. The concept is different when it comes to mushrooms. The difference is because mushrooms lack chlorophyll, which is the green color on plants. Lacking the green color means they cannot undergo photosynthesis and are therefore considered saprophytes. This saprophytic group obtains nutrients by breaking down non-living matter. From the non-living matter, mushrooms like to eat cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose.

Mushrooms store all the required nutrients in the body till the material is enough, and the conditions are favorable for fruiting. The visible part of the mushroom is the fruit. The body of the mushroom is known as mycelium. It is covered by wood chippings or soil, depending on where you are growing your mushrooms.

For mushrooms to grow, they require warmth, moisture, and humidity. When growing mushrooms, you will need substrates and the right climatic conditions. A mushroom substrate is a substance on which mycelium grows. There is a variety of materials the grower can choose as their substrate. Substrates can be straw, logs, hardwood sawdust, and wood chipping.

The substrate is prepared for inoculation’ by adding water and nutrients. For the substrate to be ready, it has to undergo sterilization or pasteurization. The mycelium is mixed with the substrate, and when the climatic conditions are right, fruiting will occur.

What are the Best kinds of substrates?

There are several substrates to choose from when growing mushrooms. Different substrates work best with varying species of mushrooms. Some of the best substrates you can use are;

· Logs-get your mushroom spawn and hardwood logs needed for planting. Drill holes onto the wood logs or cut them into the required specification. Fill up the gaps with the mushroom spawn and seal with wax. The logs are then set to stay moist under shade. Water is essential to facilitate growth. Wait for the mycelium to colonize the substrate, and when enough nutrient material is stored, fruiting begins. For inoculation,’ the range diameter is between 4 and 8 inches.

· Staw-straw can be used as a mushroom substrate too. One of the many advantages of straw is works with different species of mushrooms. Cereals of rye, wheat, or oats are the most common substrate used by mushroom farmers because they are cheap and easy to acquire. The straw needs to be prepared and sterilized before being input with the mycelium. The straw also needs to be prepared to ensure no microorganisms are present to avoid them competing with the mycelium for nutrients. Best to grow oyster mushrooms.

· Enriched sawdust- the best kind of sawdust is from hardwood. Hardwood trees like oat, cherry, beech, and maple are some of the common choices. Keep in mind that sawdust lacks the nutrients, so you have to add nitrogen supplements like bran. To ensure the soil is suitable for mushroom growth, it is by sterilization. The best way is by autoclaving to ensure the removal of all organisms that will compete for nutrients with the mycelium.

· Other substrates- the different choices include; soy hull, coco coir and vermiculite, manure, coffee ground material, tea leaves, shells, banana leaves, compost, and corncobs to mention but a few.

How to Make the Best Mushroom Substrates?

If you are using the mushroom growing kit, then you don’t need to use substrates as it has all the material required. The best substrates contain specific nutrients encouraging mushroom growth. The best substrate must have the following;

· Nitrogen about 0.2%- 0.4%

· Minerals like; potassium, sodium, magnesium, and calcium

· A ph level of 4-7

· Water content of 50%- 70%

To make the best hardwood sawdust substrate, you require 5 cups of hardwood choppings, a liter of water, and one and a quarter cups of oats or barn. This mixture is sterilized in a pressure cooker by heating. This type of substrate recipe is useful for growing any mushroom species.

The other technique you can follow to make the best mushroom substrate is PF- Tec technique. The substrates require a 250ml mason jar in which you put 1/6 cup of brown rice flour, half a cup of vermiculite, and 60ml water. The mixture in the jars is heated in a pressure cooker for about 45 minutes.

The PF-Tek technique is useful when growing small mushrooms as the giant mushrooms will tend to grow smaller.


How to pasteurize and sterilize your substrates

All the material used as substrates should be pasteurized or sterilized before it is inoculated with the mycelium. Sterilization is an important step the farmer or mushroom grower should not ignore. The process will lead to the removal or killing of the other organisms that will compete for nutrients with the mushrooms. The mushroom culture to grow healthy and giant mushrooms is that the mycelium should be able to maximize the nutrients for fruiting to take place.

Pasteurizing will require you to heat the substrate at 150-1850F in a pressure cooker, steam, or a hot water bath. Pasteurization will kill the present contaminants and allow healthy mushroom culture. Soaking and steaming will introduce water into the straw requiring no watering afterward. When it is cool, it can be inoculated’ with additional nutrients and mushroom culture.

Sterilization is by exposing the substrate to temperatures above 2500F. The method should is used when using the material with higher nutrient value. It takes about two to two and a half hours. When the substrate is cold and ready, then under sterile conditions, it is inoculated’ until the mycelium show signs of fruiting.

What substrates produce the biggest yields of mushrooms

Different mushroom species grow and yield different results depending on the substrate used. To determine whether the mushroom substrate is useful, you look at the biological efficiency. Biological efficiency= weight of harvest/ weight of dry substrate multiplied by 100%.

On a straw substrate, mushrooms’ best choice would be; Blue Oysters, Yellow Oysters, Pink Oysters, and Pearl Oysters.

On sawdust, the substrate is best to grow Reishi, Lions Mane, Shiitake, and King Oysters.

Most substrates used by mushroom growers have some similarity in the components;

· Wood or straw is the main compound

· Supplements like wheat bran

· Water


When making the substrate recipe, you must consider;

· Biological efficiency

· Mycelium running rate

· Number of initiation days

· Number of harvest days

· Biological and economic yield

· Thickness of pileus

· Length of the stripe

How is Bulking a Substrate Done?

Before diving into knowing how bulking a substrate is done, let’s first understand what it is. A bulk substrate is a greater volume of a mild nutritious supplement for the mass cultivation of mushrooms. The bulk substates are pasteurized then mixed with spawn. The purpose of mixing it with spawn is to inoculate the substrate.

Examples of bulk substrates are;

· Coconut coir- it usually is mixed with vermiculite the sterilized before inoculation with spawn. It is a natural fiber from coconut husks that holds more water and decomposes slowly.

· Manure from cows or horses.

· Straw- from wheat or rye

· Vermicompost- from decomposed vegetables or food products broken down by earthworms contain more nutrients and fewer contaminants.

· Sublicious farms bulk substrate- this is a special type as it has different bulk substrate forms in one. It can contain manure, coconut coir, and straw. The components are then pasteurized to kill the contaminants. Consider this type of bulk substrate when planting dung loving mushrooms.

· The master mix- this is inclusive of a 50/50 percent of sawdust and soy hulls. The mixture is then sterilized for two and a half hours. It is significant for growing oyster mushrooms.


What are the best conditions for mushroom fruiting

The best conditions for fruiting are;

· Light- the source of light can be in direct sunlight or artificial use of LED bulbs. The source of light should not influence the temperature of the growing room. Studies show that the mycelium requires 1-2 hours of light per day. Prevent light from reaching the bottom at about three inches to avoid stunting of the fruiting stage. If the light is not blocked, it will affect the yield. When using indirect sunlight, ensure that the jars are rotated for even sunlight distribution as fruiting relies on sunlight. Farmers using artificial light use a timer to simulate 12 hours of the day and 12 hours for the night.

· Fresh gas exchange – free flow of air should be allowed to promote cell growth; when there is no free flow of air, the mushroom cell choke and wilt. Low levels of carbon dioxide promote fruiting. Some contaminants grow in the presence of carbon dioxide like bacterial and molds. Depending on the fruiting chamber, various ways can be used to ensure the free flow of air. Holes can be drilled to the side, and other farmers use a fish tank air pump to allow free air exchange.

· Humidity – the humidity must be high to encourage the fruiting of the mycelium. Different techniques can be applied to maintain humidity. The grower can use a hygrometer to measure the amount of moisture is in the air. Experienced growers don’t use a hygrometer; they check on the condensation of water near the fruiting chamber. The mycelium can maintain a specific humidity or create its own.

· Moisture – moisture is a necessary component as the mushroom cell expands with water intake. If the water is too much, the mycelium will suffocate, and if it’s too little, the mycelium will dry and die.

· Misting – this is the use of a spray bottle to maintain the humidity. The mycelium of the fruits are not sprayed directly with water. The water is sprayed into the air, and the mycelium will absorb it as humidity.

· Perlite – to maintain free humidity during fruiting use of high surface area material like perlite and geolite is common. The materials are saturated with water and placed in the fruiting chamber to evaporate and increase humidity.

· Temperature – the best temperature range for fruiting is between 22-270C. During fruiting, the mycelium generates less heat.

· Cleanliness – maintain a high level of cleanliness to avoid contamination of the mycelium. Wipeout molding with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol spray. Periodically examine the fungus to note any signs of contamination

To increase the success rate of fruiting, there are several factors you should consider;

· Learn how to identify early signs of contamination. Remove the contamination and ensure sterilization to avoid further contamination

· Ensure the substrate has the correct moisture content. It should be moist enough to release a few drops of water when squeezed

· Label your jars to prevent confusion

· Don’t experiment; instead, follow the technique that yields results.

· Monitor the temperatures and ensure the jar temperatures are not above room temperature.


What temperature does mycelium grow best in?

For a farmer to grow good mushrooms, the mycelium should be under the right temperatures. The acceptable range is between 75-800F, which is 24-270C. Higher temperatures will destroy the mycelium because and favor the growth of contaminants. The higher temperature will lead to loss of moisture, which is necessary for cell enlargement. Lower temperature causes the slow growth of mushrooms. If the low temperatures brought about by too much water causes the death of the mycelium. The water leads to more insufficient airflow causing the mushroom cell to choke to death.

As the mycelium grows and stores nutrients, it produces a lot of heat. This heat is released into the substrate and kills the cells if there is a build-up. If you are growing your mushrooms indoors inside jars, ensure the jar temperatures are not above the room temperatures. To accelerate sprouting of the mushrooms maintains the temperatures. The use of techniques like heat bomb incubator and the tub-in-tub incubator helps the growers using rooms incubating below the required range.

How not to kill your mycelium

To grow the best monster mushroom, you must ensure the mycelium exposure to the required conditions. Mycelium growth needs the right temperatures, light, water, and gas exchange. If one of the above factors is in plenty or scarce, it will lead to the mycelium’s death. Control the substrate water levels as too much will suffocate the mycelium, while too little will lead to drying.

The mycelium is present in the soil or on whatever material you plant it on throughout the year. It grows and dies, depending on the climatic factors. The mycelium acts as the roots, so it needs to be protected to ensure mushroom reproduction. It grows when the conditions and enzymes essential for growth are present. It digests and stores up the nutrients necessary for fruiting.

However, the mushroom mycelium does not only grow to ensure continuity of the species but benefits the ecosystem as well. To not kill or destroy the mycelium, here are a few errors to avoid;

· Not following the pasteurization and sterilization procedure

· Being impatient

· Not having the correct gear

· Not using aseptic solutions- use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol spray. The spray has 70% alcohol content.

· Not using the proper mushroom cultivation equipment

· Not sterilizing your tools before use

· Using the substrate before completely cooling


How long can you expect your mycelium to live?

After reusing your mycelium for several yields with a new substrate, it eventually undergoes senescence. Senescence is the old age for mushrooms as they stop reproducing. The mycelium has no strength to store the nutrients needed for growth and cell division.

The optimal growth time of the mycelium is 16-19 days. The duration is dependent on the duration of colonization of the substrate by mycelium. Colonization is required for the mushroom to obtain the essential nutrients for fruiting to occur. The time mycelium lives is dependent on the season, substrate used, sterility, and type of compost.

The harvesting of mushrooms occurs in flushes;

· 1st flush- these are picked within 3-5 days

· 2nd flush-are on the 5-7 days and yield less than the first harvest

· 3rd flush- yields 10-15% of the products are is of lower quality

The hand-picked mushrooms are harvested and stored for consumption. The mechanically harvested ones are processed and preserved. When you notice your mycelium yields a low harvest, it is time to change and inoculate with a fresh batch.

How long can a mushroom substrate last?

Depending on the substrate of your choice, they are roughly suitable for six months. For the substrate to last long, it should not be kept open or exposed to external air. It should be exposed to room temperature without it being colonized by mold and bacteria.

You can store it in the refrigerator for thirty days and reuse for better results with the substrate.

How many times can I reuse a mushroom substrate?

The thing with mushroom cultivation is that it leaves about six times more of the by-product amount than the harvest. This is often seen as a problem but can be used to our advantage. You will not need to replant the mycelium as the ones left on the substrate will fruit when exposed to the right conditions.

In mushroom cultivation, the substrate has proven to yield 100% produce even after the first harvest. The substrate is reusable for as long as it still delivers a good percentage of the original product.

After about 4-5 months, full disinfection should be done or replace the original substrate with a new one, which will repeat the same cycle.


What can I do with mushroom plugs and substrates when spent?

With several harvests of mushrooms, you will notice that the substrate will build up fast. It is advisable to have a way out on how to deal with the plugs and substrate spent. Some of the ideas include;

· In your vegetable garden as soil fertilizer

· Can be used as food for animals like fish

· It’s a renewable energy source

· Bioremediation- air, water, pesticides, and soil

· Crop production- can be reused in greenhouses, field crops, and nurseries

· Can be reused in mushroom cultivation

· Pest management

You can decide to compost the spent substrate, and with time, you will notice mushrooms will begin to sprout from the compost.


How to enjoy the process

To enjoy the process of mushroom cultivation, you have to yield good results. Having a fruitful harvest means you have followed to the letter the instructions necessary. The growing of mushrooms demands certain conditions like humidity, moisture, light, and temperatures. Each of the condition plays a crucial role in the growth of mushrooms.

It is possible to have fun as watching the process of mushroom growth and monitoring it closely is interesting. To grow mushrooms, you need to have the correct gear when taking care of the mycelium to avoid contamination.

To know what works best for your mushroom experiment with;

· Supplements- know the kind of supplements that yield healthy mushrooms.

· Substrate- find out what thrives best and on what substrate. Switch it up several times to make better observations.

· Sterilization procedure- ensure to sterilize the substrate, the gear, and tools used in mushroom cultivation. If sterility is not observed, the mycelium will die due to the introduction of contaminants. The contaminants will compete for nutrients and will eventually surpass the mycelium.

· Climatic conditions- observe the temperature, humidity, moisture, water, and light. These factors influence the growth of mushrooms.

The substrate’s standard choice is rye or wheat, but other substances like coffee, manure, coco coir, and straw can be used. The best kind of substrate is free from contaminants. As long as your mycelium is not competing for nutrients with other organisms, growth is steady and fruitful yields.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes as that is the right way of learning. Regularly follow the procedure that yields you the best results. Avoid unnecessary mistakes that will save you time, money, and frustration. As a beginner, you are prone to making errors and yielding frustrating results, but you will get better at mushroom cultivation with time.