This article is meant to be a guideline to help people grow their own Hericium erinaceus at home. The steps laid out here are based on my experience growing the mushroom for over four years now, so they should work. However, it’s always possible that something will happen that has not been included in this document or that I overlooked something important.
Before getting started, there are some things I’d like everyone to keep in mind when growing Hericium erinaceus. There are many reasons why something could go wrong whiletrying to grow Hericium erinaceus, but the most common mistakes are:
- Incorrect growing conditions – too cold or too hot. This is very important! If you keep your mushroom kit’s temperature at a steady 25°C for 4-5 days after spawning it, then keep it around 21°C for another 3-4 days, it should start growing by itself if everything else goes well. Once the mycelium starts growing and as soon as you see some whitish fuzzy spots on top of the substrate block, leave it alone and don’t touch it anymore until harvest time! That is how I got most of mine to fruit all those years despite not using any casing.
- Wrong substrate – using the wrong kind of mushroom substrate like brown rice flour (BRF) or rye flour (RF). Although I got my first kits to fruit on brf, it’s way easier to get some results when you use the right kind of substrate! I personally recommend making your own mix for growing Hericium erinaceus because it’s cheap and easy to handle once everything is set up.
- Not enough light – too dark or too little light just won’t do! A small, 15W CFL bulb should be more than sufficient if your grow kit is placed in a room with lots of indirect sunlight coming from windows during most of the day, but not directly on top of them.
- Wrong mushroom kit. This is the most difficult one to explain because there are so many different kits available, but keep in mind that if your kit doesn’t have a well-draining growing medium inside it, you probably won’t get great results even if everything else goes right! If you’re using a grow kit containing brf or rf substrate, then this shouldn’t be much of an issue though.
If your Hericium erinaceus doesn’t fruit within 4 weeks after spawning it onto its substrate block, the most likely cause for this would be incorrect growing conditions. High temperatures in combination with low humidity will slow down or stop mycelial growth completely and can lead to aborts when things aren’t perfect!If you start to see aborts, don’t worry because the mycelium should be able to grow over those parts again when conditions are better. Don’t pick them off!
The steps I’m going to describe in this guide are for using a simple plastic container with an airtight lid as your fruiting chamber, but there are several other options available.
When choosing a mushroom kit, it can be very difficult to decide which one will give good results in the end. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does this kit contain substrate material that is easy to handle? For example, does water have to be added before spawning it ontoan inert growing medium?
- Does this kit have a well-draining growing medium, or can I make my own mix for it instead?
- Does this kit come with its own fruiting container that’s easy to handle or will I have buy one separately?
If the answer to at least two of these questions is yes, then you’ve probably got yourself a good mushroom grow kit! The steps below are meant to be executed under normal room temperature (21°C) so if your house is too warm or too cold, keep in mind that things might not go as smooth as described here! As long as you follow everything closely though, you should be able to get some nice results from your Hericium erinaceus kit.
Materials & Supplies for growing Hericium erinaceus
- One clean mushroom grow kit or sawdust spawn (get mycelium to fruit on its own, not on a grain jar!) (about $10 / €7 per kit) or Sawdust Spawn (recommended for experienced cultivators only)
- 60 liter plastic container with airtight lid
- A tight, breathable fabric large enough to cover the inside of your fruiting chamber (for example mosquito netting or organza) – I recommend this one because it is cheap and you can cut it up into different sizes easily!
- Rubber band large enough to secure the fabric over your fruiting chamber. – For this you’ll need a very wide elastic band, or two more or less normal ones if they’re big enough.
- Lots of vermiculite OR some other kind of hydrated porous growing medium with which you can fill up small holes in your plastic container (like perlite, coco coir etc.) – I recommend using verm because it’s cheap and easy to obtain! Not many people have access to perlite for example…
- A thin layer of gardening soil on top of your growing medium (optional) – This gives the mushroom kit an extra boost shortly before it starts pinning and can help speed things up a littlebit.
- A transparent plastic bag or a cardboard box which fits the inside of your fruiting chamber – This will keep humidity in while allowing gas exchange at the same time! If you’re using a cardboard box, make sure it’s completely sealed off on all sides and that there are no gaps for air to escape from anywhere! I also recommend wrapping some aluminum foil around any exposed parts of the box because too much light exposure can trigger pinning before you’re ready for it!
- Hygrometer (optional) – You don’t really need this one if you trust yourself to judge the conditions in your fruiting chamber correctly, but it is nice to have an extra reference point when things start going wrong…
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