Some think inoculation is a complicated process, but you don’t need a hood
or any fancy equipment for inoculation of jars. Just have a little
respect for the task and the level of cleanliness it requires. Really
much more time and care is spent preparing the jars themselves than
actually inoculating them.
Start by choosing a work surface where you feel comfortable working,
a kitchen counter or table works well. The most important thing is
that it is a clean area free of dirt, dust and direct air flow from a
vent. It also won’t hurt to take a shower and put on clean clothes.
Read through and understand the directions before you start inoculations.
It is important not to be in a rush, but to work quickly and
mindfully. Take time to look at how the jars are handled in the
photos, trying not to spend too much time lingering with your arms
and hands over the uncovered jars. Do not touch ANYTHING that is going
to into the jar; this includes the end of the needle, the luer lock
hub on the needle, and the syringe.
- Wipe down the surface and clean gloved hands with 70% alcohol, freshly made 10% bleach solution (freshly made is important as bleach looses it’s potency with time) or other disinfectant like Lysol.
- Label jars with mushroom name and date of inoculation.
- Delicately remove labels and set aside sticky side up or on the edge of a clean surface.
- Wipe the lid of the jars with the sterile alcohol prep pad.
- Carefully unwrap luer lock needle, and hold in one hand.
- While holding needle in one hand, remove blue cap (or white cap) on syringe by twisting counter clockwise.
- Attach luer lock needle to culture syringe by gently pressing the needle onto the syringe’s Luer Lock termination, and rotate syringe clockwise to engage the locking threads.
- Remove the needle sheath.
- Insert needle into jar, and inject a small amount of culture into substrate Repeat this procedure in remaining holes for all 6 jars. It takes some practice getting only a small amount into each hole, so take a deep breath and don’t worry if you inject too much into one jar. More culture fluid in one jar will just make it grow faster.
- Carefully re-sheath needle for disposal in a sharps container. (This may be purchased online.)
- Optional step- wipe jar lids with alcohol pad.
- Reseal jars with labels or tape.
- Incubate in a warm space away from direct sunlight. The top of a fridge or PC tower work well. In two or three weeks, you should see the jars colonized with white mycelium.
While novice growers should follow each step above, some of the steps are optional. I have inoculated jars without wiping down the surface with a disinfectant, just wet paper towels, and then give the surface time to dry. I have even gone without gloves with good results. It is more important that you are careful about not touching surfaces and to work quickly.
After you have some experience and success, don’t get too comfortable or sloppy. For example, don’t inoculate jars after turning over the compost pile or working in the garden without a shower. You cannot get away with inoculate outside or in a room that is dirty. Always work carefully in sanitary conditions, and you will have a variety of mushrooms growing within a month!