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Frequently asked questions

Kits

Im new to mushrooms, 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" page. Also check www.youtube.com for many videos of people growing their own mushrooms. Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets is another excellent resource for learning basic mushroom growing techniques.




How long can I keep a grow kit before "starting" it?


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 as 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. Visit our " Learn" page for species-specific instructions.




How much mushroom will a 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.) Your kit has the potential to produce abundantly more mushrooms through expansion into bulk substrates or logs (ie. feed it more food).




Mushrooms are growing, but not out of the hole I cut in the Spawn bag?


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! 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 tall and thin with more stem or deformed once you “let them out”. Stems of most mushroom types are generally more chewy than the caps.




Does my kit have mold?


Pacific Northwest Mycology ships freshly made mushroom kits and cultures that are grown under sterile conditions. If your kit or plug spawn is full of white fluffy fibres - 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.




No mushrooms are growing out of my kit?


Each grow kit is an individual mushroom culture with a unique genetic profile – 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. 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!




What do I do with the kit when it is finished fruiting?


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 learn page there is a link to a video showing how to inoculate a log with your grow kit.




Where are your kits made?


We are a family-run Canadian company that grows all of our mushroom kits, plug spawn, and liquid cultures at one of our 3 locations in Interior British Columbia. 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.





Sowing

What kinds of Mushroom can I "sow" on trees?


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!




What kind of wax should I cover the inoculation site with?


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.




When is the best time to inoculate a tree?


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.




Can I inoculate a fallen tree?


Typically fallen trees are not as good a 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.




Is it safe to eat other mushrooms on my inoculated tree/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.





General FAQ

How do I properly store a 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 mushrooms/kits/cultures 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 certified 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 and pressure to sterilize our mushroom growing substrates.




Do you sell Psilocybe kits/cultures/mushrooms?


Since they are illegal to possess in Canada, we do not sell any magic mushroom (Psilocybe) cultures, mushrooms, or grow kits. Additionally we do not know where you can get these types of products, so please refrain from asking us!




How can I learn more about growing mushrooms?


There are many great resources to help you learn to grow mushrooms! Check out links and articles on our website’s " Learn" page (these are organized by species and can be found in the three sub-pages of the "Learn" page). Keep checking back as we further expand these resources! Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets – is an excellent book about the amazing benefits of fungi and the basic techniques for growing them. Paul Stamet’s book “Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms” is a valuable resource for those seeking to grow mushrooms for a living. Join facebook forums like the Mushroom Growing group with 60K+ members world-wide. Follow the video blogs from mushroom farmers like FreshCap Fungus, What the Fungus, The MushFarmer, Jewel’s Funky Fungi and more on www.youtube.com Jump right into mushroom growing, experiment, learn and have fun!!! Contact us if you have questions!




Do you wholesale?


Pacific Northwest Mycology is not currently offering wholesale pricing, though this may change 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.