Remove the single piece of tape holding the top of the bag down, and pull the top of the bag upright.
Place the grow bag in an area out of direct sunlight with a temperature between 65F and 75F. (Up to 80F is OK, but not ideal for most species)
Make sure the top of the bag is upright, so the filter patch is not blocked.
Be careful to not touch the white “filter patch”.
Allow the mycelium to grow, until it has colonized the entire block. (2-6 weeks depending on conditions and variety). You can tell the block is colonized when the white of the mycelium has reached everywhere. Lion’s Mane and Chestnut will typically be not as bright white as other species.
While the block is colonizing, try to not pick up or handle it any more than necessary. It’s OK to gently pick it up once in a while in order to get a better look, but jostling the block too often can disrupt its growth.
During colonization, the mycelium needs oxygen to grow. The “filter patch” on the bag allows small amounts of air to pass into and out of the bag, while filtering out other organisms that would contaminate the block and compete with your mycelium.
Colonization can be sped up by mixing the block partway through colonization. When the bag is 10%-25% white, you can:
Spray the filter patch with 70% isopropyl alcohol
Carefully break-up the mycelium by kneading it with your hands through the bag.
Work the substrate with your hands to evenly distribute the pieces of mycelium throughout the bag
Pick the bag upright, and gently tap the bottom of the bag on a table to bring everything back down to the bottom.
- Spray the filter patch once more with 70% isopropyl alcohol
There are a lot of different ways to do this part, so if you come across another method that appeals to you, give it a try.
Once the block is fully colonized, let the mycelium know that it’s time to start producing mushrooms by giving it the right conditions – High humidity, lots of oxygen, and daily indirect light.
The first “flush” can take anywhere from 2-8 weeks depending on the species, strain, and conditions.
If you have a chestnut mushroom kit, wait a full week after the bag is fully colonized before fruiting.
1a) Most Species – Cut “X”s into the bag
Cut 2-4 Xs (1-2 inches wide) in the front and sides of the bag near the top of the block. Don’t be afraid to cut into the block, as it will repair itself.
(If the block has already started producing mushrooms, called “pinning”, you can instead carefully cut “X”s above where the pins are forming. Be careful to not cut the mushrooms that are forming.)
1b) Chestnut Mushrooms
Instead of cutting 2-4 smaller “X”s, you can Cut one large slash diagonally across the front of the bag. (If you cut one large slash, it’s highly recommended that you use a humidity tent)
2) Wrap the top of the bag around the back of the block
Fold the top corners of the bag inward toward the top middle, and then wrap the top (empty) portion of the bag around the back of the block. Secure it in place with a piece of tape.
This step is to make sure that the mushrooms grow out from the “X”s, instead of inside the bag.
3) Mist with clean water
2-5 times a day, spray the cut areas of the bag with clean water. This is to keep the surface of the block moist, and let the mushrooms know where to grow. Do this until the mushrooms are growing out the side of the bag.
4) OPTIONAL – Create a “Humidity Tent”
Use the “Humidity Tent” kit to help keep moisture high around the block, while still allowing the block to breath oxygen.
- Insert the wood/bamboo “tent poles” through the bag into the top corners of the block
- Drape the bag over the “tent poles”
- Cut the bottom of the bag so there is a 1-inch gap all around the bottom
-Make sure to continue misting the block even if you use the humidity tent.
-Once mushrooms begin to emerge from the bag, you may want to remove the humidity tent to avoid damaging the baby mushrooms.
-You can use your own bag. Just make sure it’s translucent and clean.
5) OPTIONAL – “Cold Shock”
You can do either or both of the following to encourage it along. (This is especially true for species like Chestnut mushrooms, which prefer cooler weather)
- Soak the block in clean cool water overnight, and/or
- Leave the block in the fridge for up to 48 hours
6) Harvest Mushrooms
When the mushrooms are ready, remove them from the block by either using a clean sharp knife to cut as close to the block as possible, or grab the mushrooms near the base and gently twist them. Remove all of the mushrooms, big and small, from the block.
OYSTER Mushrooms are ready just as the edge of the caps begin to flatten out.
HERICIUM Mushrooms (Lion’s Mane, Bear’s Head Tooth, Conifer Coral) are ready any time before they turn yellow/brown.
CHESTNUT Mushrooms are ready anytime after the “veil” has separated, before the edges of the caps flatten out.
7) More Flushes
The production of mushrooms all at once is called a “flush”, and most edible species are capable of multiple flushes.
- Remove any remaining pieces of mushroom from the block, and remove and save the humidity tent if you used one.
- Rinse the outside of the bag under clean water
- Soak the entire bag/block in cool water overnight. (You may have to weigh it down to keep it submerged)
- Remove the bag from soaking and drain excess water through the openings in the front and/or side.
- Secure the top of the bag back down if it has come loose
- (CHESTNUT MUSHROOMS ONLY) Flip the block upside down and new holes.
- Reinstall your humidity tent and return to misting.
Oyster and Hericium (Lion’s Mane, Bear’s Head Tooth, Conifer Coral), are capable of 2-4 or more flushes. Chestnut Mushrooms are usually good for 1-2 flushes.
-The first flush is usually the largest
-Subsequent flushes may not produce mushrooms in the same place as before. If mushrooms are forming under the plastic, you can carefully cut “X”s over them so they can come through.
When the block stops producing flushes, or there is mold growing on your block, it’s time to discard your kit.
The bag is number 5 plastic and can be recycled. Make sure to rinse any material from inside, and cut off the white filter patch before recycling.
The spent block can be sent to the compost.