Ready-to-use substrate kit for Shiitake Mushroom: instructions for use

A substrate mushroom kit is the easiest way to grow mushrooms at home. You will have the smallest amount of work and you will have great results. The below method is applicable only for the Shii-take Mushroom (Lentinula edodes).

Requisites:

  • Substrate bag
  • Large transparent bag for during fructification (optional)
  • Tape and scissors/knife

 

sterile substrate bag shiitake mushroom

1. Substrate selection & incubation: You will receive the substrate bag in a sealed Microsac. When you receive the bag, make sure it does not overheat. Keep the bag at temperatures between 20 and 23°C. The inside of the bag is always warmer than the outside and the substrate should never be warmer than 25°C or it dies in the center of the block. The bag is sterile and breathing, try to keep it complete and unpunctured.

Put the substrate in a dark place until it has ripened. The full ripening phase of Shii-take at 20°C is around 100 days. Keep it at 10-23°C. Do not disturb the shii-take substrate during ripening, or you may accidentally induce fruiting. Towards the end of the ripening phase, even the slightest touch may start mushroom formation! You will then still get mushrooms, but less. You don’t need to keep the bag moist, the substrate contains enough water to ripen inside the bag. After a couple of months, the surface should be uneven (like a cauliflower) and fully dark-brown. There may be a little brown liquid and/or a few white mycelium patches, those are good signs.

Lentinula edodes shiitake mushroom ripening phase

2. Fructification - induction: When you see small mushrooms – primordia – coming up naturally on the surface of the substrate bag under the plastic, remove the plastic. It is very beneficial to soak the fully ripened substrates in cold (5°C) water for about 10 hours at this stage. Soaking increases water content and fully induces the first flush. You don’t need to soak for following flushes.

Lentinus Shiitake pilz substrate browning

3. Fructification - 2:  Now you have a choice: the first choice is to place the substrate freely in a larger bag and maintain 16-18°C; there must be enough space inside it for the mushrooms to grow from all sides properly. Tape off the bag, but keep some opening so there can be gas exchange. This bag is only for keeping the humidity high enough as Shii-take hates drying out.

The second choice does not involve a large bag. There is no need for a bag if the humidity of your environment is 85-90%. Put the bag in a damp and shady place. A shadowy corner or a cellar (with windows) will do just fine. Make sure the atmosphere in and around the bag is very humid (85-90%). Contradictory to what many may think, mushrooms also need a certain amount of oxygen and sunlight. Make sure that the fruits receive enough of it.

Harvest Shiitake mushroom first flush

4. Fructification - 3: The mushrooms will come up in a large number. Harvest them and enjoy! They will stop growing, but after some time, a second, less intense flush will come up. And even more later on. The substrate will at this point more than likely be infected by green mould, but you may still get some harvest off it. Make sure your contaminated blocks don't infect healthy blocks!

The leftovers from the blocks can be crumbled and composted.