Posted by Candace Hess and Cathy Scott on February 05, 2016
The next step will be to prepare an environment for your cakes to pin, grow, and mature into nice, yummy mushrooms! Mushrooms need light, warmth, good air exchange, and humidity in order to flourish. This can be accomplished with humidity tents and misting, but a chamber works better.
You will need the following materials:
Mushrooms do best in aroom with some light but not direct sunlight. It is best to have a room with the temperatures in the low to mid seventies with good air exchange that doesn't get musty or too dirty. You want it to be a convenient place so you can mist your mushrooms daily.
You will still need to fan your chamber for air exchange (using the storage bin cover), and mist your cakes no more than twice a day with distilled water. However, you do not want to over mist, because this could mold your cakes! Use a fine mist for the best results. Hold the bottle away from and above the cakes, enough so that you see only very fine water particles all over your cakes. If you see water puddling up on your cakes, that is too much! They only need enough to dampen the cakes, and your perlite chamber will do the rest of the work. You should also mist the lid of your container. A good way to tell if you have too much humidity in your chamber, is if your lid is dripping water down to your cakes. In this case, you should wipe the water off the lid and remove a little bit of the perlite at the bottom.
In general, temperatures in the low to mid-70's and 35% humidity is ideal for the room. We recommend using a digital thermometer to maintain consistent temperatures. However, you should maintain your chamber for the type of mushroom inside. Oysters will need different humidity and temperatures than cold weather Shiitake, for example. Check on our website for temperature information on each species.
If the room is stuffy, try adding a fan blowing indirectly in the room. Without proper air exchange, you will only get a few tiny, quick-drying mushrooms. The trick is having plenty of air exchange while keeping the humidity high enough that your cakes do not dry up! Remember to avoid touching your cakes at all times, even when harvesting mushrooms, to avoid contamination. Continue misting your cakes after harvesting each flush to get as many flushes as possible!
In the colder months adding a humidifier to the room, and a heater will help maintain consistent humidity and temperature. The most important thing to remember is too much moisture will mold your cakes before they can fruit, too little and they will dry up and die!
With proper care, your chamber will last indefinitely. Just clean it out and replace the perlite once it becomes discolored.