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 to grow mushrooms. 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 growers are always eager to get to the finished product. Growing mushrooms is 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 growing your mushrooms
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
- 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 cultivationg 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 workspace 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.
If you are serious about learning how to grow mushrooms for food, medicine or start your own mushroom business then we invite you to check out our 2019 -2020 Mushroom Cultivation Student Programs!