Mycellium contamination, especially with sterile growing methods, is a nasty thing. It happens because there's really no such thing as "sterile" growing (after all, a growing thing is LIVING, and cannot be STERILE or it would be DEAD). When you sterilize a substrate, you leave it WIDE OPEN to opportunistic contaminations, many of which are ALREADY IN your culture! But they'd be in the AIR if they weren't, and you just can't keep it completely free from SOMETHING getting at it.
But this ISN'T about the sterile versus non-sterile argument, it is about something else. Because BOTH KINDS of methods attract nasty contaminations.
What we want, is to get the culture from spores, or mycellial plugs, through to a completed spawn run and to fruiting.
The issue we have isolated that encourages MOLD growth at the expense of mycellial growth, is TOO MUCH WATER.
When you sow into a WET substrate, Mold LOVES IT. Mycellium TOLERATES it, but does not LOVE it.
We live with this myth that mushrooms love wet conditions and they do not. They FRUIT under wet conditions, and they require WATER to PIN and to FRUIT.
But a Spawn Run takes VERY LITTLE water.
Look into the woods and meadows. The places that mushrooms grow often have heavy water only a few times a year. In observing various climates, we notice that rain forests have mushroom SEASONS the same as dry climates, and the mushrooms grown in well drained areas.
Shiitake will run on stacked logs that are fairly dry, and requires water in preparation for fruiting.
This is the experiment to try, and this is a cultivation method that works well, but it DOES NOT WORK with Spore Syringes.
Take a piece of mushroom, and cut it up into small pieces. NO SLURRY HERE! Just small mushroom bits. Dices, or shreds, or something.
If you have DRIED mushroom, or dried gills, then the process is different, you need an extra step HERE.
Get a container (you have to be able to close it to protect the humidity and the mushroom from pests).
Put a SMALLER container (like a 1/2 cup jar, or a condiment cup, or something about that size) INTO the larger container.
Fill the SMALL container half full of water. NO WATER in the large container.
Put your DRIED mushroom into the LARGE container, and put it somewhere warm, but not hot, and NOT in the sunlight. Make sure you COVER the large container.
It takes a few days for the dried mushroom to rehydrate in the humidity. IF you leave it too long, it will grow new mycellium which will consume the old piece of mushroom, and eventually it will die from lack of food.
This is just a way to get a REHYDRATED spore surface with a normal amount of moisture for the mushroom piece.
Once you have your bits of mushroom, get a 1 qt Ziplock Bag.
Put 1 cup of flour or cracked grain into the bag - fine sawdust will also do for wood digesters.
Put in the mushroom bits and shake it all around. Do the Hokey Pokey while you shake it upsidedown. Ok, not really. But shake it... Shake it good.
Leave it somewhere warm, or somewhere cooler, depending on the temp that the mycellium likes.
Near a heater vent for tropicals, or in a sunny window with a towel over it.
On top of the refrigerator for tropicals or heat lovers.
At room temp for a LOT of really good mushrooms. Just anywhere that won't heat up a lot, or cool down a lot.
In a basement for cooler temperate mushrooms.
In the fridge for cold loving mushrooms.
Every few days, go and shake it and examine it.
The first signs of mycellial growth will usually be a semi-solid clumping of the flour.
Once it grows a bit more (1-2 weeks) you'll see mycellial structure forming. You'll see it better with a magnifying glass, but you should be able to see this without magnification.
Eventually it kind of solids up a bit, and you should NOT let it become a solid mass. When it gets more difficult to break it up, it is ready to go. You don't break it up to KEEP it in pieces, you just break it up to MEASURE how much of it is mycellium.
Mix this into your final substrate - DO NOT wet down your substrate! Do NOT put it into wet substrate!
Just mix it into dry sawdust, dry compost, dry soil, or sow it into your lawn, lift some turf and tuck it under, bury some of it beneath a tree in the soil or under the duff.
Don't add water for about a week, IF AT ALL, and then DO NOT soak it in. Just give it a light spraying with a spray bottle if you are growing indoors, or a normal light spring shower if it is outdoors.
We learn from people who have tried this that the MOMENT you add water to a NEWLY cultured medium, it goes all to mold.
Mycellium draws moisture from the air, and USES reserve moisture in wood and compost that is not regarded by YOU as being significant.
We have a method for Spore Syringes, but it is difficult to be precise, there are so many variations.
You need at least a quart of dry media in a GALLON Zip Bag. NOTICE! We generally use COARSER media for this, it does not go all to glue like flour will. So use cracked grain, semi-fine sawdust, or other semi-fine particulate.
Use the syringe to sprinkle 1 ml of the contents of the syringe over the substrate.
Shake the bag until the wet spots are not detectible.
Leave overnight in an appropriate place. (Once you get a LITTLE humidity into the substrate, it will handle additions more easily, so the first pause is longer.)
In the morning, add another ml to the bag, and shake it again.
Repeat, morning and night, until the entire syringe is incorporated, or until you feel you have added enough. It can be done with relatively little, but this is just creating mycellium that you then expand into MORE dry substrate.
Watch for mycellial growth, it will do the same as the chopped mushroom, and start to clump the substrate. Break it to judge how far it has run in the media.
Proceed from that point the same as the method for mushroom pieces.
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