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Mushroom Grow Guide

1. First Steps On Arrival
On arrival
When the mushroom growing kits nz arrives there is nothing special required.
  • Take it out of the box.
  • Leave it in the plastic bag.
  • Check it has air holes. Let us know if it doesn’t.
  • Do not make extra holes or cut it.  
  • Give it access to fresh air and a warmish spot.
A rule of thumb: if you are comfortable, it will be comfortable. The main thing is not putting it somewhere that’s too dry. Keep away from heat pumps, fires, or heaters.
Care during incubation
  1. During this stage, you do NOT need to mist or spray it with water. Everything it needs (including water) is in the bag.
  1. Find a comfortable spot, a kitchen counter is fine. It should be shaded, not too hot or cold and away from drafts. Se our article about best locations to grow mushrooms
  1. Over the next two weeks, you can watch the mycelium grow. It is the whitish-looking stuff spreading through the bag.
  1. After a few weeks, check for pining. Generally, the grow kit will start pinning 2-3 weeks after we make it. The date of this is written on the bag with the month first (this is the batch number).
Note: Most of the grow kits are made on the day they are sent, so the timing of arrival and this information matches the stages of growth. However, you may have received a bag that is a little out of phase, or it may just be growing super quick. If this is the case you may need to skip ahead.
2. mushroom growing kits nz Pinning Stage (about Week 2-3)
Although the mushrooms are not growing yet, your mushroom grow kit should be showing signs of life. You may notice that the mycelium is getting denser, and possibly it’s starting to thicken around the air holes. When baby mushrooms start to grow out of the holes we call this stage pinning. The baby mushrooms are called pin-sets.

The Pinning stage of mushroom growing kits nz

This is a short stage (usually a day or two. However, it is the most important stage. If there is a failure to grow it will be due to a lack of humidity during pinning. Remember, you don’t need to mist until it starts pinning.
Rule 1: Mist – Rule 2: Mist again
  • It is important to ramp up humidity as soon as the mushrooms start growing. Failure to do so may result in the growth stalling. If you are uncertain, move it into the bathroom, better still, the shower cubicle.
  • If you are in a dry location you may need to act quickly. For many people maintaining high humidity will be the biggest challenge. If you have it in a location where laundry would dry easily, that will be bad for the mushrooms. 
  • Here is an important article on managing mushroom humidity.
It is best to err on the side of caution and over-do the misting, especially in the first 48 hours. It’s really disappointing to hear from customers who have had their first flush stall in their first few hours of life due to a lack of humidity. If it does stall the info in the above link will help you get back on the right track.
  • A photo reference of the different stages of the mushroom grow. This includes examples of pinning and stalled mushrooms
NOTE: In summer, pinning may start as soon as 2 weeks (or even earlier), but in winter it may take up to 4. If it hasn’t started pinning after 4 weeks it may have gone dormant, so read the article about things not going as expected.
3. Harvesting the mushrooms
When and how to harvest
  • It should be ready to harvest on the 4th or 5th day after the cluster started to pin. It’s not so much about its size but the length of time it has been growing.
  • Do not go longer than 5 days else you risk having a spore storm that may cause a problem for some people. It will also cause the mushroom to deteriorate quickly.
  • To harvest, we usually just pull out the entire cluster by hand. Pull off the ones that are ready, other clusters may need a day or two more.
  • If you cut them off you will later need to clear the air holes (see the FAQ for post-harvest care).
  • Greys: It’s a little easier to tell if the Greys are ready. The caps will flatten out and start to curl up at the ends.
  • Pinks: With the Pinks, it’s a little more difficult to tell, as the caps are usually already turned up. Easiest is to harvest on the 5th day.
  • Spore: You should avoid the clusters getting to the sporing stage. This is usually day 5+ after pinning. You can tell if they have spored if you see very fine dust that may appear sticky if you’ve sprayed it with water. It may also be on the caps of the mushrooms below it. Use a damp cloth to carefully clean up without disturbing it. It is only at this stage that it is an issue, the rest of the time it is clean. Note: some people like asthmatics may find the spore irritating, and some people who suffer allergies may get mild hay fever-type symptoms
  • We have photos in our blog article the-different-stages-of-the-mushroom-grow with examples of what it should look like.
A note about size
There are many things that can influence the size of the mushroom caps. For instance, they may be small if:
  • Growing conditions are not been optimal
  • They tend to be smaller during the first flush and get bigger during the subsequent ones.
  • If there are a larger number of clusters growing at the same time,
  • Conversely fewer clusters growing often results in larger mushrooms
Do not let size be the determining factor of harvesting, please harvest on day 5. If you leave them longer than this, they will most likely not grow any bigger, spore and make a mess, and perish more quickly.
If it hasn’t started Pinning 
If it has not started pinning you could try popping it outside for a few evenings and bring it back inside for warmth. A bit of a cool shock is what it may need as it will think ‘winter is coming’ and hurry along. During the winter it may take up to four weeks to pin. If it has taken longer than 4 weeks to grow it may have gone dormant. Here’s an article about what to do if mushrooms are not growing.
If you need help please use the live-chat feature on our website.
Recipe Research
Now would be a great time to find some great and hopefully new recipes. We have recipes on our website.
4. Caring for the grow kit after Harvest
In order to reset the grow kit for the next flush, there is some care required. You may also need to do this if you had a failed flush and all your mushrooms stalled. There is generally enough water and nutrition within the bag to give you 3 flushes. However, if you follow these directions you will get many more.
1. Clear the airholes
Run your hand over the outside of the bag to clear the holes of any debris and nubby bits like pin-sets that have stalled, or stem stumps from harvested mushrooms. We want these airholes clear so it gets plenty of fresh air and space to grow next time. You may need a small knife to trim nobby bits of mycelium. 
2. Check if it needs a drink
Weigh the bag and compare its original weight to this new weight. The difference is the water loss.
  • Half the weight of the bag is water. So, for instance, if you purchased a 4kg that means it contains 2kg (or 2 litres) is water
  • Let’s say, from that 4 kg bag you harvested 700g of mushrooms, and the bag now weighs in at 3kg. This means the bag has lost 700g of water to the fruit (which is what gives the mushrooms their weight) and 300g to evaporation from the holes.
  • This means it only has 1 litre of water left. This should be enough for the second flush (so no need to soak), but it may struggle for the third. At some stage, it will need a drink.
  • Also note, a loss of 300g to evaporation would be fairly high and may indicate that it is in a spot that is too dry.
3. Rehydration
Once it’s lost about 70% of its water it’s time for a drink. Generally, this should not be needed until after the 3rd flush (or possibly the 2nd if you have it in a dry location). Do this by…
  • Soak it in a bucket (bath or sink) of water for a few hours. Chlorinated tap water is fine.
  • Put a weight on top to submerge it.
  • When you pull it out, put a small hole in the bottom to help it drain.
  • Re-weight. Aim to get it to about 80% of its original weight.
  • While it’s soaking, try finding a better spot for it.
IMPORTANT: Do not oversoak. This is one of the few things that will harm the mycelium and may cause mould. 
Now you know everything you need, in order to be successful for subsequent flushes. If you do a good job in caring for it, it should reward you for many months to come. We have had customers give us feedback that theirs are still producing after 10 months. However, its yield will diminish as nutrition is depleted. After say 6 months you may want to experiment by adding some diluted liquid fertiliser to it. Use a metal straw, inserted into strategic spots inside the bag.

Frequent ask questions on mushroom growing kits nz

Why are my mushrooms not growing?
We’ve made our mushroom growing kits as simple to grow as possible. However there are 2 problems that are outside our control, and can get people stuck. The first is stalling due to lack of humidity, the other is dormancy usually due to it being in the wrong location. These are relatively minor problems and easy to fix once you know how. Have a look at our trouble shooting guide to learn more. 
How can I improve the humidity for my mushrooms?
Maintaining high humidity is one of the biggest challenges people have when growing mushrooms. To help, we have written an in-depth article about managing humidity for your mushroom grow.
Note: Mushrooms only need high humidity when they are growing. So, only during the ‘fruiting’ stage (from pinning to harvest). When it’s incubating, or between flushes, you do not need to care for it as long as you have it properly hydrated. 
What pests can affect mushrooms?
There are only two main mushroom pests to look out for. The Phorid fly and the Sciarid Fly (aka fungus gnat). Both of these flies will lay eggs in the holes of the bags. After the eggs hatch, the larvae roam inside the substrate and quickly devour the mycelium inside. Eventually eating through the stem of the mushroom they emerge as flying adults via tiny pinprick-looking holes, out the top.
We have an in-depth article about mushroom pests, how to spot them and how to deal with them.
I See Mould in my grow kit, Is That A Problem?
It is very unlikely you will get an outbreak of mould. If you do, we have an in-depth article on mould and what to do. 
Is my grow kit a dud?
Short answer, probably not! We have a process that has our failure rate at less than 1%. However there is the small possibility that it is. In that case we will replace it, no questions asked.
Your mushroom grow kit is made as part of a batch of about 10-15 bags. If there is a dud it would mean that the entire batch is similarly affected. Because of the cost involved in replacing a batch we are highly motivated in maintaining strict quality control. If we had made a bad batch we would know about  quickly. We also make and keep a control bag from each batch so that we can observe its growth. In the case of a bad batch, we would replace your grow kit without hesitation.
Environmental Factors: Generally, any issue with an individual bag is related to the unique variables in your home. These signs often include:
  • pin-sets stalling (lack of humidity)
  • dormant bags (lack of temperature fluctuation)
  • pests (usually if it is being grown outdoors, which we do not recommend)
Contamination: Less frequently we will encounter some contamination like mould. In most cases, the mould will clear up, as healthy mushroom mycelium will either contain or kill it. We will generally replace a bag that has become mouldy if the mycelium is too badly affected to recover. Most often the mould has entered after the bag was made, via the air holes. Oftentimes, it’s after a person has oversoaked the bag during rehydration.
Our Method: We have a production method that is reliable so we can ensure consistency across many batches. The only variable is the grain spawn used to make the batch (there is one bag of spawn per batch). Issues with spawn would be due to contamination of the spawn and would affect the entire batch. For us, this would be rare as we have a laboratory clean room where the cultures and spawn are made and we have tight protocols to maintain sterility. However, if it does happen this contamination would most likely be mould or bacteria. These are relatively easy to spot, so we would not use the spawn bag for production.
Control Bag: For each batch, we retain a small sample to make a control bag. If you contact us, we can then compare your bag with the control. This gives us better insight into what may be happening, and the advice we can offer to fix problems. It would also alert us to any potential contamination issue affecting the entire batch. Note: We incubate the control bag in our barn. It does not get any special or favourable treatment.
Our Support: We pride ourselves on our ability to work with you in having a successful mushroom grow. This means overcoming any issue you may have with the growing conditions. If we simply replace the bag without overcoming the problem, then we potentially doom the new one to the same fate. If you need support, please contact us using the live chat feature of the website (or by facebook message). Please include a photo of the bag, including the batch number on the side. Also, if you can, the order number.
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