Mushroom Cultivation: 5 Common Mistakes to Avoid

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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. Sterilization 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.

martha mushroom fruiting chamber

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.

Conclusion

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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84 Responses

    1. What to do if my mushroom kit smells bad?
      It is my second harvest and I have passed the 24 hour soaking time now it smells bad.

      Thanks you for your help.

    2. When cakes or substrate begins to turn yellow after mycelium has formed or started to form, generally this means that the cake or substrate has become dehydrated and/or no longer has sufficient nutrients to allow fruiting. Rehydration can sometimes solve the issue, but more often than not, it means that the cake/substrate is no longer capable of supporting further mycelial growth.

    3. Yellow can also indicate that the mycelium have metabolized a nutrient. I’ve seen cases where people use potting soil substrate and small bits of nutrient rich matter go through this process leaving a ‘yellow snow’ type effect from consuming the nutrients and excreting the waste.

  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.

    1. You want pasteurized substrate not sterilized if you sterilize your substrate you make it very vulnerable to all contams if you pasteurize and mix casing into it and evenly mix it with your colonized spawn grain its almost impossible to get contamination and it will grow twice as fast

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

    1. Commercial spawn bag has water droplets in upper part of polythene bag why does it happend and is it ok to use this spawn for grawing

  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!

    1. You can but watch for contamination and next time give it 3 to 4 days after 100% Colonization before pulling it out you shld notice the mycelium and cake will shrink in the jar when fully colonized check out my IG @cap_out if you need help I’ll help you

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

    1. Depends do you mean cColonization if so your joy should be completely white give it three days four days after that to make sure that it’s fully colonized know if you’re talking about flush like after the flash you’ll notice no mushrooms coming in or very little after you’ve harvested A loud of shrooms I am personally will pluck my as the caps Start to flatten out but you’re supposed to pull on when the veil brakes and the gills are shown But I keep going after I fully harvest a cake till it starts getting a few pins then I take it out pour Distilled water in a bag and I’ll put the cake with a little pins in the bag for 18 hours in the fridge and as long as you’ve done it when the pins are just popping from the cake I mean little pins your pins will not abort(meaning turn black) “ have to be same pinks like looks like little mush heads “ after the birth and dunk Thea little pins will keep growing and you won’t have that 3 day grace period between flushes

  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

    1. Moisture

      I have three monotubs. They are starting to fruit.

      I’ve read that I should open and spray four times a day. That accurate. I have condensation on the lids and wonder if that means it’s toooist

  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.
        Oliver

        1. incubators? never heard of that? What does anyone think and experience…..I would love to hear.
          Can I make an incubator in my closet?

          1. I just use my closet with a digital space heater as an incubator no problems.

        2. Peltier thermoelectric moduals are fairly cheap, solid state cooler, heater, n generator all in one, joined with a temp regulator if the area gets too warm it’ll turn on n cool but if the area get too hot it’ll take care of it. Handy little things!

    3. How do you pasteurize your substrate? You must not pour water over 180 degrees then it tips to sterilized you don’t want that you must keep the temp in between 150 to 180 so it pasteurized

    1. No it’s not math, but you’re negative. And that a truth. 🙂 Be nicer, it’ll make you a better person. Good luck Jr.

  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. .??

    1. Humidity can be too much, because it will encourage microbial growth in the puddles. Maybe scale back to 90%-95% humidity.

  8. Hello, I have innoculated 4 bags, with a cotton plug at the bag opening. The mycelium is steadily growing towards the bottom with clear color difference in the non consumed color of the straw. The white mycelium is NOT pure Bright white as seen in pictures. There are patches of white, more like cobweb whites. If it doesn’t turn completely white, what might I be doing wrong?

    I am not using breather bags, nor I have punctured the bags. Could this be a reason?

  9. I think I moved my block to the fruiting chamber too soon. I thought it was ready but I’ve seen others and theirs is much more white than mine. It’s been in the chamber for 2 weeks now with no pinning. Is this a failure and do I need to just toss it and start over or can it be saved? Can I put it back in the dark and warmth and hope that it fully colonizes at this point? Please advise.

  10. As a first time grower starting from liquid culture i learned quickly about having a sterile environment. I broke down and built a decent size laminar hood, build a dedicated lab and following the same process, as did prior. I was able to generate uncontaminated grain spawn. If it’s too expensive to build or buy a Flow Hood, build a simple glove box.

  11. Can anything bad happen if you use way too much liquid spore solution? A friend of mine put a whole syringe in a bag that only needs ten ccs

    1. You don’t want there to be a pool of liquid at the bottom of your spawn container. Also, spores need mating so do not shake the jar/bag after if you use spore solution. Good luck 🙂

  12. Im just starting i have 9 dif strains of sporrs and my 1st and secnd try with bags they turned a yellow. Heat around 72 in cupboard near ground and i did not have inoc ports in em so went threw the heppa filter is it that lil hole i make in it that the contaminates getting in

    1. You should definitely close the little hole where you inoculated with some tape. My guess is that the bags were not sterilized properly or the spore syringes were not clean. Maybe increase the time of your sterilization.

    2. The yellow you are seeing might be “Mycelium Piss”. I used a 5 pound mushroom bag with grain and everything inside. It took 4 weeks but the entire thing turned white with yellow water areas. With that said, some of the non white color was from the dirt in the bag.

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  14. So I have my mono tub all set up and ran a test run with no substrate or anything in tub. I have a separate tub with fogged and 4 inch duct fan blowing fog into bigger tub. My humidity was perfect for 3 days continuously but no condensation on walls of tub would the substrate dry out or will the humidified air be sufficient

  15. i m facing with contamination in mushroom media culture and grain spawn production please guide me,how to overcome on these problems

  16. Hi there, I need an advice for indsutrial oyster mushrooming. Our land is very close to a dam and
    its forbidden covering concrete for the tents.
    Is there any alternative
    and sanity flooring other than concrete?

  17. Hey so this is my second time trying to grow the first I tried to do it with APE culture I got online which I think could of been contaminated. Because after my grain bags were about 20-30% they started to turn black and with in two days were completely black. So I threw them out and tried agian with a cream lex Luther culture that I made in between the first and second go around. My 60cc spore syringe got clogged while inoculating one of my grain bags on the second time around and I accidently squeezed 10ccs of it in a 3lb bad. And I Inoculated another grain bag with some GT spores as a kinda controll hopefully but it’s been 3-4 weeks now and that bag has no sign of growth but the one I did with the culture is now about 80% colonized but the bottom side of the bag that’s touching the bottom of the tub floating in another tub with an aquarium heater in it as well as the side of the bag that’s closest to the other grain bag so 4 of the 6 sides are complete white.could they not be growing on the bottom or that one side because it’s in direct contact with the bottom of the container or another bag that’s always between 74-78F . And I’m wondering if it will help or fix/finish colonizing if I turn the bag on it’s side so the sides that aren’t colonized are upwards but if I do that the air patch on the bag won’t be stright up vertical like it is currently should I just leave it as is and hopefully growth continues as it has or should I turn it on its side or move it to my other incubator with out water in the set up because just in the past day or two the humidity of the incubator that’s in the water has went up from 25-35% where it was at the whole time it’s been colonizing and now it’s up to 40-65% I added a fan in to the side of both incubators on timers to help keep the conditions more stable. Am I doing something wrong or do I just need to leave it and be more patient or rotate it or what? I have the whole set up in a closed off closet I make sure to use an alcohol lamp when inoculating with the oven door method as well as a UVC and I got a wall mounted UVC in the grow clostetbon a timer also so it steralizes the whole closet three times a day there’s no moving air in the closet besides the fans in the side of the incubators and I always make sure to have the uv-c on if I open the lids at all with gloves mask the whole works and I always use alcohol wipes when inoculating as well as 35% hydrogen peroxide.

  18. Hi,
    Its been 9 days since I inoculated my jars. They jars are kept in a large plastic box, with the lit slightly off. They have not been exposed to sun/electric light at all. The room has about 27 degrees celcius. I can only see a little white mycelium in one of the jars. What am I doing wrong? Thank you

  19. I love Mushroom a great deal. It shows up as often as possible on my dishes however in market, mushrooms are costly. So I am truly giving genuine idea to develop it in my home.

  20. I started my first cultivation process and unfortunately realized that some holes to inject the spores were too small just after sterilization, therefore didn’t inoculate the spores in all 4 holes in some jars (each jar was inoculated in between 1 to 3 holes). its been nearly 4 weeks of cultivation, and the jars are not fully cultivated. should i wait until full cultivation? i reckon it will take at least 2 more weeks

  21. Hi I got this red spot that came in a bag of dried “copes” mushrooms
    Looks like the same colour and consistency some blood that got dropped on it and dried.
    It’s on the dried mushrooms (final product)

    Is this bad? It’s just on one stem the rest of the ounce looks ok.

  22. I have several jars that turned partly black as the white mycelium were developing. Within days the black disappeared and the white mycelium took completely over with no sign of any black in the jars. Are the white mycelium contaminated or can I take these jars to the next growing level and will the mushrooms be safe to use?

  23. I have had a few jars of inoculated rye berries that never form mycelium. The grains seem wet, which suggests that I injected too much spore solution. Is there a way to reduce the humidity in the jars at this point? Some say you cannot use too much, some say anything over 5cc for a jar or 1cc for an Uncle Ben’s bag will ruin it.

    I’ve been thinking about taking the lids off in a sterile environment and covering with micropore tape until some of the liquid evaporates. Or should I just start over?

  24. Unless your growing pan cyans i dont know why your humidity is so high…the puddles are fine. Put the fogger on a wifi timer…

  25. Hi, I see standing water at the bottom of my oyster mushroom bags and also a lot
    Of water droplets.
    I definitely followed the process correctly (not too wet and not to dry) so I don’t understand why this is happening.
    I tried to cut the bottom a little and tried to drain the water with a help of some cotton. Will that help?
    Please advise.
    Thank you!

  26. As long as your community reader is on point trust it make sure to sterilize before putting it back in or switching containers but take it out and put it in a different tub or leave it in the room and watch how fast the humidity drops or the temperature changes then you know it’s giving you a correct reading. On one of these forums one member really made fun of another member because he said my humidities at 99% I have my polyfill in my holes it’s colonized but not pinning and the guy responded you can’t have 99% that would be like a bucket of water not true whatsoever I don’t know how old that person was but I mean if you just missed your monotub well even with big polyfill holes and everything you put that sensor in there and if it’s warm in the room it’s definitely going to be 99% for at least a few minutes if you get up fresh air and take it and everything else it might truck quickly but that’s kind of what you want you want conditions like mushrooms growing like it just rained and then got nice and hot out or maybe not nice and hot the strongest of all of them which are not wavy caps which most people say but it’s not hard to Google it the flying saucers the psilocybin auczerences….spelling..I know…. Obviously I wanted the strongest one my first was mistake was assuming that they’re all wanted some cocoa choir and they all wanted some manure and it didn’t occur to me that the flying saucers being would lovers like I needed to pressure cook some wood chips and even use shredded wood pellets after being soaked in water for inoculation before adding to bulk and I might put some fertilizer in with it if were me so like some cocoa choir or something but it’s got to be like straw and wood chips watch any video or someone’s growing them and I don’t look like mud manure Coca-Cola etc….cco coir….ha

  27. I stopped I talking to these dumb phones that’s humidity in the beginning whatever you use to monitor your humidity there’s cheap great things for lizard tanks that you can suction cup to the inside that give you the temperature in the humidity and 99% humidity does not mean a bucket of water

  28. I’m using all in one grow bags. Grain on the bottom straw in the middle and horse manure substrate on top. My problem is most of my shrooms are growing in the straw and not on top. What do I do ?? Should I cut the bag or just let them grow like that ??

  29. Hi , I’m a first time grower ,really small scale as I bought a oyster kit . I’m experiencing trial n error , first flush was bountyfull whilst as the second flush was getting to be to but half the pins where getting moldy ,some grew nicely but the others didnt make it . The kit came with the mycellum in the bag n compost separate to place on top.. the mold started on the compost n seemed to spread.. I think my mistake was I didnt materialise the knife ..as I said trail n error ..wondering if the mushrooms I did harvest are safe to eat pls? N if I remove the mold with sterile equipment should I have anouther go at just topping up the compost or does anyone suggest to remove the mycellum n place it in a sterile container n then topped with compost? Or hay? .. really treasure proffecianl opinions. Thankx

  30. after 12 days I noticed a strange hairy brown growth in two places. I continued to next process and 2 more weeks later, still nothing. Looks like its growing a green mold on the substrate. Should I toss this kit and give up?

  31. My golden teachers are growing well but on some of the mushrooms there are fuzzy white-ish tips at the tops. What would cause this? Thank you!!!

    1. If I got brown sludge on my mycelium in my container how do I prevent that next time. Was it cause my container was on the floor? Or was it cause the temp in my closet was to high, which I noticed afterwards.

  32. My spores have already turned my pasteurized subtrate completely white after 5 days. Should I wait to cast for another week?

  33. Hi there,

    I have two bags of Amazonian growing. They did grow any tips and are just white.

    I don’t think there was any air in my humidity tent.

    I’ve picked one off and decided to start again in a decontaminated box.

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks

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