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Making a simple mushroom grow chamber

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So you have inoculated sterilized pf jars with cultures, and they are nice and fully colonized.

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:

  • A clear storage bin with clear cover
  • 1-2 gallon bags of Perlite
  • Plenty of distilled water
  • A fine-misting spray bottle
  • A drill and 1/4" to 1/2" drill bits
  • Gloves or hand sanitizer

Growth Chamber Preparation:

  1. For air exchange drill 4 to 5, 1/4" to 1/2" holes on each side of the clear storage bin.
  2. Wash the bin thoroughly-allow it to dry out.
  3. In order to maintain moisture inside the bin, pour 1-2 gallon bags of perlite on the bottom of the bin, and add water until it is completely absorbed.
  4. Drain any extra water from the perlite, so that it's barely dripping at all. There should be about 2-3 inches of this in the bottom of your chamber. This will provide your mushrooms with plenty of moisture, which is good for the cake method, and is very resistant to contamination.

Find a good home for the growth chamber.

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.

Prepare for the birth! - Always wash your hands, use hand sanitizer or gloves when handling spawn to reduce contamination.

  1. Carefully unscrew jars, discarding the bands while retaining the lids.
  2. Gently loosen the lid but leave it on top of the jar.
  3. Tap the glass bottom of the jar until the cake is loose enough to come out. Carefully remove the cake/lid combo on the palm of you hand and set it lid side down in the chamber. If some mycelium sticks to the jar, or if the top of the cake is discolored yellow, that is fine. Sometimes, mushrooms have begun to pin inside the cake, which is also perfectly fine. They are just ready to grow!
  4. Repeat with remaining cakes being sure to space them a few inches away from the sides of the chamber and each other. Once mushrooms start to grow, they'll need all that room!

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.