Stage 1: Colonization

Mushrooms breath oxygen.  In order to grow properly, they need access to oxygen and the ability to get rid of carbon dioxide (just like us!) When your kit arrives, the top portion of the bag that it’s in will be wrapped tight against the body of the kit. Remove the piece of tape that’s holding the kit wrapped, and stand the top (empty) portion of the bag upright.  You’ll see a white patch on the bag.  This has tiny holes (0,2 microns wide) that allow gasses through, but keep contaminants out.  Be careful to avoid touching the patch as much as you’re able. It is possible to push some organisms through it with your finger.

Place your kit someplace thats near room temperature and out of direct sunlight, and leave it be.  The culture inside will slowly take over.

Once the white mycelium has reached all parts of the substrate, you’re ready to move on to the next stage.  If you’re not ready yet (e.g. you’re traveling out of town for a while), simply wrap your kit back up like it was when it arrived and place it in the fridge.  It should be OK in the fridge for a couple months.

Stage 2: "Pinning"

Now that the mycelium has established itself, it’s ready to work on producing mushrooms.  Creating mushrooms requires a certain environment: high humidity, fresh air, and indirect sunlight. “Pinning” refers to the initial growth of baby mushrooms.

High humidity is needed, as mushrooms are 90% water. Moisture signals to the mycelium that it’s a good time to create mushrooms that won’t dry out.

Fresh air is needed so the mushrooms can breathe.  The mycelium needs some oxygen during colonization, but it needs a lot in order to produce mushrooms.

Light is a signal to the fungus that it’s reached an open space, where there’s room for mushrooms.  (There’s no point in trying to grow mushrooms on the INSIDE of a log).

Light is easy to achieve, by just not putting the kit someplace dark. Getting fresh humid air requires is a bit of a trick.  Professional (and many hobby) mushroom growers create an enclosed space and us a combination of humidifiers and fans to achieve the right environment.

A convenient low-tech way to achieve high humidity airflow is with what’s called a “humidity tent”.  A Humidity Tent is essentially a plastic bag with some holes in it draped over the mushroom kit.

Squeeze the extra air out of your kit.

Fold the top corners of the kit inward toward the white patch, wrap the top portion around the kit (like it was when it arrived), and secure it in place with a piece of tape.

Use a clean knife to cut an X into the side of your kit.  The X should be about 1.5-2 inches wide, positioned near the top of the kit, and off to one side (either the left or the right).

Install the 4 bamboo picks into the top 4 corners of your kit.  Push them through the plastic and into the body of the kit about half an inch – angle them outward and upward at about 45 degree angles.

Place your kit in the middle of a large (dinner) plate.

Craft your humidity tent:

Leave your green “humidity tent” bag folded.  Take the sealed end of the green bag and hold it over the kit. Imagine the outward ends of the bamboo picks are the corners of an X, and hold the sealed end of the green bag right in the middle of the X. Drape the rest of the bag over one of the bamboo picks and let the other end of it lay on the table.  Use a marker to mark the bag where it reaches the table.

Hang onto the green bag, and set everything else (the kit, the plate, etc) off to the side.

Use a pair of scissors to cut off the portion of the green bag that laid on the table. (That’s why you marked it with the marker)

Continue to leave the bag folded and use the diagram below to cut pieces off the bag.  When you’re all done, the bag will unfold and look like a paper snowflake.

Unfold the Humidity Tent, and drape it over the kit.

Place the entire setup where you plan to keep it, and pour some clean water onto the plate.

Twice a day, use a spray bottle to gently mist the side of the kit as well as the inside of the humidity tent with clean water.  Add more water to the puddle on the plate if it starts to dry up.

Stage 3: "Fruiting"

Baby mushrooms (aka pins) will eventually begin to grow from kit where you cut the whole.  Continue to mist and add water to the plate as you did before.

Stage 4: Harvest

Stage 5: More "Flushes"

You may be able to get another (if not more) batch of mushrooms from your kit.  Each time the fungus produces mushrooms it’s called a “flush”.  You can try to get another flush:

  • Remove and discarding any remaining bits of mushroom from the side of your kit
  • Temporarily remove the humidity tent and bamboo picks
  • Soak the kit for 12-24 hours in clean water.
    -Submerge your kit with the hole that you cut facing upward
    -Your kit will want to float, so you will need to weigh it down.  Many people like to use a large bowl filled with water.
    -You may have to experiment a little to find what will work for you.
  • Drain the extra water from your kit.
  • You can try to flush again through the same hole, and/or cut a new one.  The kits are all individuals and its hard to predict where they’ll want to make mushrooms again.
  • Place your kit on a new plate; reinstall the bamboo picks and humidity tent; pour some water onto the plate; return to misting your kit and the inside of your humidity tent twice a day.