Mushroom Cultivation Mistakes to Avoid

Mushroom Cultivation: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Mushroom cultivation is not hard when you know what are the things that can go wrong

People often struggle with these common mushroom cultivation mistakes, when they try to grow for the first time. When you are first starting off your mushroom cultivation journey, be sure to look out for these.

Here are some mistakes that we made when we first started mushroom growing. Sometimes it’s good to learn from your own mistakes, other times it’s enough to learn from others.

1. Sterilisation of mushroom growing substrate

Contamination is the lead cause of failure when growing mushroom. Incorrect sterilization is the lead cause of contamination. You must treat all equipment, work surfaces, containers and gloves with alcohol before any work commences.

  • You should fully sterilize the substrate. Always follow the sterilization method with no exceptions.
  • Check the pressure regularly when using a pressure cooker to achieve a heat sterilization.
  • While working with liquid cultures flame treat the syringe needle after every penetration, same goes with the scalpel when you are using Agar.

The working environment is just as important. It is vital to keep a clean, tidy and sterile work environment, in order to maximise the chances of success.

2. Slow and steady wins the race

First-time mushroom growers are always eager to get to the finished product.  Mushroom Growing can be a meticulous and thorough process that you should not rush.

Incomplete preparations or not following and sticking to one chosen technique will lead to a higher risk of contamination.

Trying to rush each stage will also lead to a high failure rate. Always allow your substrate to completely cool before inoculation. Be sure that Mycelium has fully colonized your substrate before starting the fruiting stage.

3. Cutting corners will not give you a satisfying result

There is often a temptation to cut corners in order to save costs. There is no justification for this when growing mushrooms. The cost of production is so low, to begin with, that it is worth investing fully into the right equipment from the start to increase your success.

If you try to grow too much, too soon and don’t have the right equipment to deal with the workflow, you will quickly become overwhelmed.

4. Right environment for mushroom growing

The wrong environment will quickly lead to failures. It is very important to always check the requirements for each different strain of mushrooms that you grow.

Mushrooms grow in a multitude of habitats around the world, so each one requires separate attention. Most critical aspects are:

  • Air and ground temperatures
  • Humidity
  • Light conditions
  • Fresh air exchange

5. Be aware of thermogenesis

Thermogenesis happens when the mycelium is decomposing organic matter. Like compost piles, the mushroom substrate will start generating its own heat.

There is a possibility that the temperature in your substrate will become higher than the air temperature in the room. If your fruiting room is running at the optimum temperature, then your substrate could rise above it and cook the Mycelium. This could mean that your mycelium will get cooked and die.

Other things to watch out for

There are some mistakes that can only be avoided with experience that you gain by cultivating your own mushrooms. Here are some of the common things that will dramatically increase your success rate:

  • Learn how the early signs of contamination look like. It will save you time and money. As soon as contamination is spotted the contaminated item should be completely removed from the growing area.
  • Usage of a substrate that is too wet or too dry is a common mistake. It should be damp but not wet, with a gentle squeeze enough to release a few drops of excess water.
  • Label your jars and samples with species, date and batch number to avoid confusion.
  • Always stick to the technique you started with.
  • When working with spores it is important to ventilate the work-space once finished and samples are secure.


It is important that you start practicing proper sterile methods early in your mushroom cultivation journey. Most contamination issues can be avoided by proper technique and good equipment.

Don’t rush your first grow. Be prepared when you start and don’t improvise or cut corners in the beginning.

Make sure that your environmental conditions are proper for the type of mushroom you are growing. Humidity, air exchange, light, and temperature are all important factors to keep a constant watch on.

Growing mycelium generates its own heat. Try to aim a few degrees below the optimum temperature to avoid cooking your mycelium.

Do you know of any other common mushroom cultivation mistakes that should be added to this list? Please let us know in the comments below.

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17 thoughts on “Mushroom Cultivation: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. At each stage of the growing process,pay attention to that step only. Get those fruiting bodies out of your mind. Nature will take care of the rest, assuming you provide her with the right causes and conditions to produce those fruits. So, just basically be mindful along the way. For me, that’s become part of the joy and satisfaction of growing.

  2. Priscila A.Untalasco

    So growing mushrooms only inside, what about banana stalks and rice stalks, how do you classify these kind of mushrooms. Thanks

  3. I think I may have taken my mushroom bucket out of the incubation process too early. It looked completely colonized, but this is my first time. Can I put it back in the incubation process after two days of air and indirect light? Thank you in advance!

  4. How do I know when the mycelium run stage is complete snd its time to move on to the next stage? Thanks.

  5. I heard about mushrooms consume oxygen I use a bubble humidifier. Hint fill 1/4 pure water 1/4 hydrogen peroxide which turns to oxygen and pure H2O plus keeps things sterile fights contamination provides sterile water small amount of oxygen have found great success with this method

  6. Zozo here a mushroom grower since 2017. The fisrt time I started to grow mushrooms at my farm everything went well. I did them straight on the ground and i didn’t experience any contamination I harvested about 3 kgs everyday. But as I continue growing them in buckets the contamination appeared. I am having a big wendy house which I devided into two sides. The first side is for pestorization, inoculation and its very clean and tidy. And second one for growing with an aircon inside to control the temperature. But from the 15 buckets 3 of them is contaminated. I tried everything to make sure that everything is 100% clean and the subtract is not wet or dry and I pestorize the subtract correct in a boiling water for 10 minutes. I’m in need of help to be less contamination good people. I’m growing Oysters and now busy with shiitake in logs.

    1. Zozo I think the problem you are having is your sterilization process. I’m positive 10 minutes isn’t enough time. If your cooking your substrate either by pressure cooker or just in boiling water you need to be at optimal sterilization temperature for at least 90 minutes, sometimes I can get away with 75 but I would recommend using the whole 90 minutes to ensure no living contaminants occur. I would start with that if you’re still having problems then check your innoculation process. That is the only place I’ve ever had an issue but it was due to my error in proper sterilization, trying to rush processes and learning the hard way. Good luck hope you solve your problem.

    2. pastirize your substrate for a minimum of 90 mins if using coco for tubs . but if your using bags steralize for 90 mins at 15psi in a pressure cooker and no bad shit will be left . or a little trick is to put some dry casing on the top of your substrate so the mold or bad bacteria can grow.

      1. The best way to manage temperature is to grow a variety of oyster mushroom suitable for your climate and season. For instance, pink oyster mushroom likes warmer tropical climate and a variety of blue oyster likes temperate and cooler climate. By growing the right variety there’s less of environmental temperature control you have to do. This equals less energy (often monetary investments) input.

        At Fungi Academy, we have incubators for the spawn colonization stage. But at home, you can easily make this by getting a cooler pox or an old broken refrigerator. This helps to keep the temperature more stable.

        Mush love and I hope this helps.

  7. Is it possible to give too much humidity during mycillium growth stage….i upgraded my fogger system and i think it may be a little much? It soo effective it is causing puddles of water on the bottom of my tent! I mean the conditions are perfect according to my hydrometer. 80 degrees 99 percent humidity. ..obviously it cant read any higer but im just worried its too much humidity. .??

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