By now you have put in most of the hard work, from this point on you have to let time do its thing.
Place your jars in a warm, dark place to colonize. We recommend an airing cupboard for this, but anywhere that’s dark will do. Place the jars on a high shelf if possible, as this will keep them away from the contaminants that exist at floor level and get whipped up every time someone walks by. You should keep the ambient room temperature at around 70F (21C), this is the most ideal temperature but you are safe to linger slightly higher or lower.
Colonization should begin within a few days of inoculation with spores, or within 24 hours if you’re using liquid culture. The first thing you will notice will be the fuzzy white spots appearing on your substrate around the area you injected your spores; these are germinating spores.
More of these will appear and during the next four weeks, they’ll grow and grow, hopefully exhibiting rhizomorphic growth, which is exactly what we want. As these rhizomorphs grow together, they’ll create a white covering over the entire substrate and will eventually begin to strangle the substrate and pull it away from the sides of the jar. This is perfect, but it can allow space for some moisture to gather on the glass. Don’t worry if this happens; it’s perfectly normal.
WHEN THE JARS ARE READY
Once the substrate inside your jars is fully colonized, including the bottom of the substrate, give the about another week before removing them from the jars. This allows the mycelium to consolidate, meaning it will move into fruiting more quickly once placed in your grow box.
Depending on how long you’ve left your jars, you might be able to see the beginnings of the mushrooms fruit snaking their way along the side of the glass; in fact, we recommend waiting until these primordia are showing before transferring your cakes to the grow box. They’ll look like tiny worms with darker coloured spots on the ends, sort of like angry baby eels!
A rough estimate of how long this period will last is between 4 – 8 weeks. Once your cakes are ready, move on to Step 4: Fruiting.
Tip: If you see any strange colors or smells, dispose of the jars immediately. Some contaminants are deadly for humans despite what some online debate suggests. Contamination could also spread to other jars, so it is vital you dispose of the jars before they get a chance. If you are unsure what the contamination is, dispose of the jar and do not open it indoors.
During this stage we will first perform the Dunk & Roll process and while we wait for that to complete its cycle we will prepare our Grow Box. Once everything is in place we will transfer our cakes into our new Grow Box and watch them fruit hundreds of beautiful fungi.
DUNK & ROLL STEP 1
Gather your jars in the kitchen by the sink. Clean the area you will be working around and fill a large bowl or saucepan, big enough to hold all your cakes, halfway with water, set this aside for now.
Remove the jar lids and remove the dry vermiculite layer, lightly tap the sides and back of the jars until the cake comes out. Now gently rinse the cake under cold tap water until it is clean, then place it in the bowl you filled with water earlier. Repeat this step with the remaining jars until all your cakes are in the water.
You need to submerge the cakes fully underwater, you can achieve this by placing something heavy on top of the cakes to lightly push them underwater. Then cover the bowl with plastic film and place it in the fridge for 24 hours.
While you wait for your cakes to hydrate for the next 24 hours, you can begin building your grow box.
Tip: If you are finding it difficult removing the cake from your jar, lightly tap the edge of the jar against a soft book until the cake comes out.
PREPARING THE GROW BOX
Take your plastic storage box and drill ¼ inch holes 2 inches apart all over the box. You want to begin at the bottom and drill evenly going around the whole box, then move up two inches and do the same again. You need to drill holes on all sides, as well as the bottom and the lid. Drill the holes from the inside to avoid cracking. If your box cracks slightly don’t panic, you can tape any cracks later on. Once you have drilled all your holes, begin the next step.
Before your grow box is ready to host cakes you’ll need to fill it with a few inches of rinsed Perlite to help create the pressure gradient that will draw fresh air into your grow box and ensure good passive ventilation. For this step you will need to wear a Face Mask, as Perlite powder can be harmful to your lungs if inhaled. Empty your bag of perlite into a kitchen strainer and rinse it fully under cold tap water until all the perlite is fully soaked.
Now empty the wet perlite into your grow box and space it out evenly and flat, you want around 4-5 inches of perlite in your grow box. Cut a square piece of heavy-duty foil the same size as each of your cakes and place these pieces of foil on top of the perlite, evenly spaced out in the grow box. These pieces of foil are what your cakes will sit on. Your grow box is now ready.
Tip: Sit your grow box over four stable objects to allow airflow underneath, small plastic containers will work great for this. Cover the surface under the box to protect from moisture leakage.
DUNK & ROLL STEP 2
Once your cakes have hydrated for 24 hours and you have completed putting your grow box together you are ready to begin the next step.
Measure 1 cup of Fine Vermiculite and spread it out on a piece of kitchen foil. Place the foil in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C. Once the vermiculite is ready, remove it from the oven and place it on top of your workspace. Remove your jars from the fridge and gently rub each cake into your vermiculite to fully coat each side of the cake, including the top and bottom.
TRANSFERRING TO THE GROW BOX
When your cake is fully covered in vermiculite, transfer it into your grow box and place it on top of the foil you prepared earlier. Do this for each one of your cakes. You are now done, all that hard work finally got you to this final stage, all you have to do now is take care of your little beauties and watch the mushrooms grow.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR BEAUTIES
Once you have transferred your cakes to the grow box, use a spray bottle to mist the inside of the box to create the desired humid environment the mushrooms like, close the lid and place the grow box on a high surface in a room with indirect sunlight.
You should mist the grow box several times a day, each time you mist you should also fan out the air. Fanning out the air removes the build-up of CO2 inside the grow box, if you don’t fan the box several times a day your mushrooms will struggle to sprout, this step is very important and you should not skip it.
You should aim to keep the humidity inside the box between 80 to 95%, constantly fan and mist, you can never do this too often, we do this up to 20 times per day.
THE FRUITING PERIOD
It won’t take long for your cakes to start fruiting. As light is a pinning trigger, they should start to pop out from the cakes within a couple of days, sometimes this can take longer depending on the strain. When you begin noticing your mushrooms are popping out, move on to the next step to begin harvesting, at the right time of course.
Congratulations! You have successfully grown your first batch of mushrooms and are ready to pick your rewards. The only thing left now is to pick the fruiting bodies, dry them and store them.
You know your mushrooms are ready to pick when you notice the veil under the cap breaking open. As soon as you see the first signs of the veil breaking your mushroom is ready and you should pick it before it releases its spores.
Use a Scalpal to cut the mushroom from the base. If you don’t have Scalpels gently twist the mushroom from the base and pull. This method is not ideal as it can cause the cake to break off with the mushroom, putting a dent in your next flush. Its definitely worth investing in a Scalpal.
Once you have harvested all of your mushrooms from the first flush you can dunk & roll your cake again for a second flush. The second flush usually gives higher yields than the first flush.
Tip: You may find that some of your mushrooms wont fully grow and remain as small specs. These are called mutes and are extremely potent, make sure you pick those tiny fella’s!
Once you have picked your mushrooms your cake is ready for a second flush. Simply follow the Dunk & Roll steps above by soaking your cake for 24 hours and putting it back into the grow box. You do not need to add the vermiculite to the cake for re-flushes, simply dunk for 24 hours and you’re good to go.
Good luck and have fun!