Mushroom Grow Kits

I'm a beginner. Where should I start?

Oyster mushrooms are by far the easiest and most reliable mushrooms to grow.  For beginners we recommend our “ready to fruit” oyster mushroom grow kit.  Simply cut an X in one side of the bag, cover with a humidity tent, and mist a few times daily.  Within 7-10 days a cluster of baby mushrooms will appear!

*Be sure to order a humidity tent and spray bottle with your mushroom kit, unless you have something suitable at home to create a well-ventilated and humid growing environment.

To learn more about mushroom growing check out our Learn to Grow page.   Check www.youtube.com for the many videos of people growing their own mushrooms.  Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets – is an excellent book about the amazing benefits of fungi and the basic techniques for growing them.

Can I store my kit and start it next month?

While we recommend starting your mushroom grow kit sooner rather than later, it is possible to delay for weeks or even months if kept refrigerated.  Keeping your kit at as cold a temperature possible slows down growth and delays fruiting.

When you are ready, bring them out of refrigeration and warm to room temperature.  After a few days, follow the growing instructions for your specific mushroom species.  Click here for growing instructions.

How do I set up my humidity tent?

Roll up the bottom of the humidity tent three times like you would a pant leg, and flatten out the gussets at the top for form a box.  Place over your grow kit and mist inside tent with a spray bottle.  Watch a short demonstration of setting up a humidity tent here.

How many mushrooms will my kit produce?

Your mushroom kit can produce anywhere from ½ to 1½ kilograms (1 to 3 pounds) of fresh mushrooms over its lifespan.  The amount depends on many factors including;

1)  which species of mushroom you are growing,

2)  the growing conditions you provide (each mushroom species has its’ own optimal range of temperature, humidity, air exchange and light), and

3)  if you have the patience to fruit your kit a second, third or fourth time.  (Generally the first harvest is the largest, with subsequent crops being smaller and smaller until the kit has used up its’ food resources within the bag.)

Of course your kit has the potential to produce abundantly more mushrooms through expansion into bulk substrates or logs (ie. feed it more food).  See “How Can I Expand my Kit” or have a look through the tutorials on the website to learn more!

Mushrooms are forming - but not where I cut the hole. Now what?

It is common for baby mushrooms (pins) to form inside the bag, particularly for species like Oyster and Lion’s Mane.  You just can’t hold them back! Not to worry. You can either carefully cut a flap opening to allow those baby mushrooms to emerge, or you can just ignore them and wait for mushrooms to form at the opening you have already created.  Keep in mind that the more holes you have cut into the bag, the faster the kit will dry out and you may need to rehydrate by soaking in water between crops.

Note:  If the baby mushrooms forming inside the bag are already fairly mature before you “set them free”, you might find they grow “leggy” with more stem or deformed once you “let them out”.  Stems of most mushroom types are generally more chewy than the caps.

Eeks! I think my mushroom kit is moldy *%#!!!

Grow Mushrooms Canada ships freshly made mushroom kits and cultures that are grown under sterile conditions.  If your kit or plug spawn is full of white fluffy stuff- it’s ready to grow! These white fibres are fungal mycelium  (not mold) which are consuming the sawdust or wooden dowels in your bag. When provided the right conditions, this mycelium will produce delicious mushrooms.

Since mold thrives under the same warm humid conditions as mushrooms, it can be a real problem for mushroom growing.  Mold shows up as areas of black or green. If you see mold on your unopened mushroom kit or plug spawn contact us so we can replace it!

If you are planning to expand your mushroom kit into pasteurized or sterilized substrate, use the contents immediately upon opening.  Some people want to fruit their kit first, and then try expanding. While you can certainly do this, there is more risk of contamination since your kit will have been exposed to mold spores in the air.

When inoculating logs with plug spawn, be sure to use clean hands and disinfect your drill bit to reduce any contaminants.

Why won't my kit make mushrooms?

Oh, those mysterious mushrooms!  Sometimes a grow kit just doesn’t produce mushrooms in the timeline you expect, despite following the growing instructions.

Each grow kit is an individual – some are “late bloomers” who need a little more time, and some are quite particular about the humidity or temperature being just right for them.  Mushrooms need extremely high humidity to form, and not enough is often the problem.

If you have been trying for several weeks and your kit has not produced, try these steps that replicate the natural conditions that trigger many mushrooms to fruit in the wild.   – heavy rains combined with cold nights and warmer days :

    1. Rehydrate it.  Heavy rains are an important factor that trigger wild mushrooms to fruit.   Completely submerge your kit in cold water for 2-4 hours (use a plate to weigh it down), and then drain off any excess water.  Poke small holes in bottom if necessary to encourage draining, as water pooling in the bag can cause bacteria and mold to form.
    2. Give it a “cold shock”.   Fluctuations of temperature another key factor to stimulate the fruiting of wild mushrooms.  Think of pleasantly warm spring and fall days when the temperatures then drop to cold nights.  To emulate this temperature fluctuation, place your kit in your refrigerator for a night or two.
    3. Keep humid.   High humidity is essential for mushroom formation, particularly tiny new mushrooms which are very susceptible to drying out. Place your kit under a clear plastic humidity tent with holes that allow for air exchange.  Mist the inside walls of the tent several times daily, or more often if you find the water droplets evaporate completely off the walls of the tent. Alternatively you can create a simple fruiting chamber by putting a water vaporiser inside an aquarium or small greenhouse, and using a computer fan to bring in fresh air.
    4. Change the location.  Some species of mushrooms prefer to fruit in cooler environments (like King and Blue Oysters),while others prefer a warmer environment (like Elm, Yellow and Pink Oyster).  Try moving the kit to a cooler or warmer location.
    5. Don’t give up!   As long as your kit is white with fungal mycelium and has no patches of blue/green or black mold, it’s alive!  If you are ready to give up, find a nice shady location outdoors where your kit will be exposed to rain, and leave it be.  You’ll often get a pleasant surprise months later when it suddenly produces a bouquet of mushrooms after a heavy rainfall.

If, in spite of following instructions, your kit doesn’t fruit – we are happy to replace it!

Where are your mushroom kits produced?

We are a family-run Canadian company that grows all of our mushroom kits, plug spawn, and liquid cultures from our home-business on Vancouver Island, BC.  We value supporting Canadian farmers and the substrate in our mushroom kits is pure Canadian hardwood sawdust supplemented with organic wheat bran and rye from the Canadian prairies.

What do I do with my kit once it's done?

When your grow kit has finished producing mushrooms, it means that the fungal mycelium has eaten all of the substrate – but the fungus isn’t dead, and could potentially keep producing more mushrooms, if you give it more food to eat!  Some people transfer the substrate into logs, or make beds with new substrate to continue harvesting more mushrooms. On our resources page there is a link to a video showing how to inoculate a log with your grow kit.

Do you sell button mushroom kits?

Shipping

How much is shipping?

We extend to customers our best rates shipping with Canada Post, and don’t add any additional handling fees.  To keep your shipping costs as low as possible, we now ship from an eastern and western location.  

To get a shipping quote, place products into your cart then click “View Cart”.  Under the “Cart Total” select “calculate shipping”.  Enter your postal code to generate an accurate shipping cost.   You can add or remove items from your cart, then “fresh” to see updated shipping quote.

You will notice it is most economical to ship more several kits or products together.

Do you ship internationally?

We do not ship internationally at this time. We do ship to all locations in Canada via Canada Post.

Will my mushroom culture survive shipping?

Liquid Culture

How long can I store my liquid culture before use?

While we recommend using your mushroom cultures as soon as possible while they are at their prime, they can easily survive for months refrigerated in a cold dark place.  (In fact fungal mycelium is amazingly resilient, and cultures are often still viable even after a year or more!)

Over time, your liquid culture may become too thick with mycelial growth and difficult to injection through the needle.

How much liquid culture should I use?

This will depend on what species you are growing, how much substrate you are inoculating, and the temperature at which you incubate.  Your aim is for full colonization of your substrate within about 10 days.

As a rule, the more you use, the faster they will colonize. We recommend about 1-2 ml (or cc’s) of liquid culture per 1L canning jar or small injection port bag full of cooked and sterilized grain (approx 2-3lbs)

For faster growing species like Oyster and Turkey Tail, you can get away with less, whereas you might want to go higher with slower growing species like Shiitake and Maitake.

Shake the bag or jar when it’s around 1/3 colonized to evenly distribute the mycelium. 

Growing Mushrooms on Logs

What type of mushrooms can I grow on logs?

We offer cultures of several gourmet edible and medicinal mushroom species that grow on logs.

Most species we offer grow on “hardwood” logs from deciduous trees like oak, maple, alder, birch, and beech.  For instance you can grow pearl oyster mushrooms, yellow oyster mushrooms, shiitake,  lion’s mane, turkey tail and reishi on hardwoods.

If you have access to a log from an evergreen tree like fir, consider growing phoenix oyster or bear’s head.

Cedar trees have strong antifungal properties and therefore are not good for mushroom growing. Fruit trees are reportedly not very productive either, but you can always experiment!

Which types of mushrooms grow on which types of wood?

Coming soon….

Should I choose wide, warm or cold shiitake for my climate?

“Warm, wide and cold” indicates the conditions under which this strain of shiitake will generally produce most prolifically.  It NOT an indication of which type of climate they grow best in, and three shiitake varieties can be grown across Canada.

When choosing which variety to grow, we recommend that you consider your local climate, and your shiitake production goals.

For instance, here on Vancouver Island BC the summers are very dry, whereas the spring and fall tend to be rainy and humid.  We decided to work with nature, and select strains that tend to fruit in the spring and fall when it is humid here, rather than fight to keep the logs watered during the summer drought.  The wide temperature strain is a good all-around choice, and the cold strain helps us to extend our fruiting season as early as possible in the spring and later into the fall. 

If your goal is to have mushrooms spring, summer and fall, then a combination of wide and warm strains would be a good choice.  In some parts of Canada summer heat is often accompanied by high humidity, and this would be suitable for the warm strain shiitake which  maximizes the productivity and quality of mushrooms during the summer.

 

“Cold range”  Fruiting Temperatures: ~7-20C (44-68C).  This strain of shiitake will expand your season by fruiting earlier in the spring and extending later in fall than the wide range variety. Does not respond well to forced fruiting in summer.

“Wide range” Fruiting Temperatures: ~15-25C (59-77F). This strain can be fruited over a wide range of temperatures, though mushroom quality and yields of this variety will be diminished in high heat as compared to the warm temperature variety.

“Warm Range”  Fruiting Temperatures: ~13-27C (55-80F).  During warm summer months, this variety produces mushroom of better quality and higher yield than wide range variety.   May fruit naturally or by forcing in warmer spring and fall months. Force fruit in summer.

What wax can I use to cover inoculation sites?

After inserting your plug or sawdust spawn, we recommend covering the inoculation site with melted wax.  This prevents contaminants from entering and retains moisture while the fungal mycelium grows into the log.

Many types of wax can be melted and used to cover inoculation sites.  We sell soy wax for this purpose, but bees wax and cheese wax can also be used.

How long can I store my plug spawn before use?

While we recommend using your mushroom plug spawn as soon as possible while they are at their prime, they can easily survive for months refrigerated in a cold dark place. (In fact fungal mycelium is amazingly resilient, and cultures are often still viable even after a year or more!)

A small amount of yellow or amber liquid may collect in the bottom of your bag over time. Not to worry, the liquid is naturally forming metabolites – a by-product of mycelium growth.  It is still perfectly good to use.

When is the best time of year to cut logs and inoculate?

The ideal time to harvest trees is winter, before the leaf buds break open, and to inoculate in early spring.

Select healthy trees. Cut logs into 3-4ft long sections, and stack outside where they will receive rain.  Raise the stacks on wooden or concrete blocks so that they are not in direct contact with the ground to prevent decay.  

Inoculate as soon as the day time temperature are around 10C.

How soon after cutting a tree should I inoculate?

Some sources recommend waiting 2 weeks after cutting a living tree to allow time for natural anti-fungal compounds to dissipate before inoculating.  Other sources report that this wait is not necessary and have shown that you can successfully inoculate immediately.

That said, it is important to inoculate within a month after falling the tree in order to give your fungal mycelium a chance to establish within the log before wild competitors have time to invade the log.

A tree fell three years ago, can I grow mushrooms on it?

Having been down for years, this log would not be a good candidate for edible mushroom cultivation. Although it may not be visible, any logs left over several months or more will have already been colonized inside by wild fungi.  If you then inoculate with shiitake or oyster or another mushroom of your choice, your mushroom will be competing for space (food resources) in the log.

You might still have success producing some mushrooms, however for best results start with logs from healthy trees that are freshly cut or fallen.

That said, if the log is there and you love to experiment, oyster mushrooms would be the best choice to plant because they grow very quickly and aggressively.  Another good candidate would be turkey tail, a beautiful medicinal fungi which sometimes be found fruiting in the wild on older logs that have lost their bark.

Can I inoculate logs in the late fall or winter?

The ideal time to cut logs is late winter for early spring inoculation.  This maximizes time for the mycelium to grow into the log before the winter freeze.  However you can inoculate throughout the year, and it is generally best to plug your log within 2-4 weeks of the tree falling. 

Fall is an awkward time, and you need to make a call whether to inoculate now or let the logs sit through winter and inoculate early spring. 

If the weather in your location is already below zero, there would be no harm to let the logs sit through winter, as there is little chance of wild fungal competitors invading your log during this time.  If you did choose to inoculate your mushroom mycelium won’t have much opportunity to grow from the plugs into the logs either, and may be compromised by extreme cold.

If you anticipate a month or more of above zero daytime temperatures, or you can place your logs in a basement or greenhouse that will be warmer than outside, then there would be an advantage to inoculating immediately and giving the logs a head start.

Is it safe to eat this mushroom growing on my log??

Since you are growing outdoors, wild fungi can potentially also grow in your mushroom log.  Because there are some species of deadly poisonous mushrooms, it is important to be confident in your identification any mushroom you eat.

Should I use plug spawn or sawdust spawn?

Plug spawn is easy to use.  All you need is a drill with 8mm (5/16″) drill bit.

If you have hundreds of log to inoculate and plan on doing it year after year, then it be more economical to purchase a special inoculation tool and use sawdust spawn.

Other Common Questions

What is the best way to store my mushroom culture?

For the best “shelf life” store your mushroom kit, plug spawn or liquid culture in a cold dark place until you are ready to grow.  Your refrigerator is the best option if you have space. While we recommend using your cultures as soon as possible, you will find mushroom mycelium is very resilient and can often survive for a year when refrigerated!

Are your products organic?

While we don’t have organic certification, no pesticides, nor artificial fertilizers are used in growing any of our mushroom cultures.   Our “ready to fruit” mushroom kits are grown on pure hardwood sawdust and organic wheat bran and rye from the Canadian prairies. Our plug spawn is pure hardwood dowel pins inoculated with mushroom cultures that are growing on organic Canadian rye grains.  We cultivate our liquid cultures in a sweet broth of malt extract, dextrose, and well water. We use steam to sterilize our mushroom growing substrates.

Do you sell magic mushrooms?

While all mushrooms have a certain magic, the ones you are likely inquiring about are Psilocybin mushrooms, used traditionally for recreational and spiritual purposes. Since they are illegal to possess in Canada, we do not sell any magic mushroom cultures or grow kits. We do carry a book about Psilocybin mushrooms by renowned mycologist Paul Stamets, and many mushroom growing supplies. You might be interested in this article about research of the clinical use of Psilocybin mushrooms for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, depression and addiction conducted by the John Hopkins Institute.  This year the Institute launched the Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research thanks to $17 million in private donations.

“Our scientists have shown that psychedelics have real potential as medicine, and this new center will help us explore that potential.”  Paul B. Rothman, M.D., dean of the medical faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Where can I learn more about growing mushrooms?

There are many great resources to help you learn to grow mushrooms!

Do you sell wholesale?

Grow Mushrooms Canada is not currently offering wholesale pricing, though we may decide to do so in the future.

Small retailers are still able to take advantage of our regular bulk discount of 15% off when purchasing 11+ mushroom kits, and to set their own retail pricing.  Depending on current stock, we may need 3-4 weeks production lead time.

We recommend oyster mushroom kits with a humidity tent (blue oyster, elm oyster and pearl oyster) as they are easy to grow with success.  We also recommend Wine Cap mushroom kits for companion planting in mulch around outdoor perennial and annual garden beds.

Please send us your contact information and we would be happy to contact you if we decide to expand to meet the wholesale market.