Log and Bottle Cultivation - DOC by fjhuangjun


									                        MADE IN THE U.S .A.



     Dedicated to RWM specifically for his use of a natural contamination barrier to grow


Mushrooms have been in use for many centuries, but not just as a food. They are used to
treat many illnesses. Mushrooms are used as a gourmet food, combating diseases (such
as cancer, bacterial, and viral), and for religious experiences or visions. Many cultures
regularly use mushrooms for medicinal and gourmet purposes. Recent scientific studies
have led to the discovery and isolation of compounds produced by medicinal mushrooms
that have therapeutic properties. Some of these mushroom compounds are now used to
make pharmaceutical drugs.

Common mushroom names are determined by Genus species, strain, and description. All
living organisms are classified scientifically by their Genus species. The mushroom
species is broken down into individual strains. An analogy is species is to humans, as
strain is to Black/White/Latin humans. An example of this is the Shiitake mushroom. Its
scientific name is Lentinula edodes, and its growing environments classify its strains as
wide-range (WR), cold (CW) and warm (WW) weather. Some strains grow better in a
cold climate, others do better in a warm climate, and some are in between.

The mushroom life cycle is divided into three main parts: mycelium growth, fruiting, and
reproduction. The mycelium growth stage happens first, and comes from germinating
spores. It looks like a fuzzy white mold, and it allows the mushroom to obtain water and
nutrients. This fuzzy white growth is called mycelium. The mushroom begins its fruiting
cycle after the mycelium has colonized enough substrate. During the fruiting stage fruit
bodies appear. The fruit body is what most people think of when they hear the term
“mushroom.” The fruit bodies are responsible for reproduction via the production of
mushroom spores. Mature fruit bodies release millions of spores into the environment,
and these spores allow the mushroom to reproduce itself. The spores also allow for the
mushroom to spread to different locations. The most common fruit body is that of a stem
and cap. The cap sits on top of the stem and produces spores. As the fruit body matures,
the cap opens up to release these spores.

The majority of mushrooms grow on wood or compost, with some that are parasitic to
plants and insects. Some of these mushrooms take a short period to grow, and others take
a long period. Cultivation is done on a micro-scale or macro-scale basis. Micro-scale
productions are great for individuals who want to experiment with mushrooms for their
own personal use. Macro-scale production is done on many different levels. It is done to
supply family and friends, or to produce quantities sufficient to supply local or industrial
markets. There are places around the world that base the majority of their economy on
the production of mushrooms.


There are two main types of production methods, natural and composite. Natural
cultivation follows nature’s growth cycle of the mushroom. Examples are inoculated
compost beds and logs. The composite method uses processed materials such as sawdust
or chopped wheat straw with nutritional supplements. Composite cultivation produces
mushrooms on a much faster time scale, however, natural cultivation produces higher

quality mushrooms. Producing mushrooms using jars is the quickest method for a
beginner to successfully grow mushrooms and learn about their growth cycle.

                              Mushroom Log Cultivation
Logs must be obtained alive preferably during the their dormant season (after leaves fall).
Use tops and trunks, common average size used is 3-8” inch diameter and 3-3.5’ feet
long. Use what size is best manageable by you. Do not remove the bark, it helps
maintain moisture and keep out foreign fungi.

Inoculate logs soon after harvesting to avoid contamination and drying out. Outdoor
cultivation inoculations are best done in the early spring or thru the fall before winter.
Use a 5/16” drill bit with common household drill to make holes in the log for insertion
of dowel plug spawn.

Drill a diamond pattern in the log; it also looks like a spiral pattern when done on straight
logs. Start at one end and drill a hole 1 inch in from the end, then drill holes in a straight
line down the log every 5-6 inches. Return to the first hole in the row and begin a second
row of holes parallel to it about 2 inches over. Stagger the holes in this row by starting
your first hole at approximately half way between the 1st and 2nd holes drilled in the first
row. Therefore the second row should have its first hole approximately 3-4 inches from
the end of the log.

After drilling the entire log inoculate immediately, meaning don’t drill holes and
inoculate at a later date, do it all the same day. After hammering the dowel into the hole
it must be sealed off. Seal holes with melted wax such as Bee’s, cheese, or plug wax.
Paraffin works but shrinks in cold temperatures and might fall off.

Place the logs in a shaded area. Put them above or on the ground, laying down or
standing up. The closer to the ground the more humidity the logs will get. Logs grow
best with about 1 inch of rainfall a week. Water logs works too, but don’t keep the
constantly wet. Water based on your climates weather pattern.

Logs begin to fruit naturally in the late summer thru fall. First fruits appear after about 6-
12 months depending on when logs were inoculated and how well they were cared for
based off your climate area. Bulk fruiting season temperatures are usually between 65-85
F’ or lower depending on the strain. Remove mushrooms by picking or cutting them
from the base of the bark.

                                  Diamond drilling pattern

                              Mushroom Jar Cultivation
The materials needed for mushroom production using the jar method are easily found
around the home, hardware store, and supermarket. The following are basic items needed
to produce a wide range of mushrooms:

      Water- preferably spring, but distilled works too. Try to avoid tap water if
       possible because of the additives.
      Mason jars, bottles, or drinking glasses work too.
      Aluminum foil
      Dry measuring cups
      Mixing bowel and mixing utensil
      Pressure cooker, or pot with lid for to boil water for sterilizing
      Clean cloth, or paper towels of some sort
      70% or higher isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to sterilize working surfaces
      Disinfectant spray (Lysol) to help create a sterile room.
      Antibacterial soap (Dial) to clean hands.
      Thermometer

Useful things, usually found around the house, you might use to improve your cultivation

      Rubber gloves and/or dust mask
      Hydrogen peroxide as an antibiotic
      Open flame such as a lighter or propane torch for flame sterilization
      HEPA filter to help create a sterile working area

Mason jars are the best choice for this method. Other jars, glasses, bottles and sometimes
bags are used for this technique too. Many mushrooms are easily grown directly from
their containers. Bags and jars or glasses with tapered sides allow for easy removal of the
substrate out of the container after full colonization, this is recommended when growing
shiitakes. The following substrate formulas are for mushrooms that grow off hardwood
trees such as Shiitake, Reishi, Lions Mane, and Oyster.


The common industry standard by dry weight is 80% hardwood sawdust with 20%
supplement. The most common supplement is millet and wheat bran. Water is mixed in
until it barely drips from the substrate when squeezed with a fist. The use of both
supplements to the sawdust versus just the bran or millet tends to produce better results.
However, this is species and strain dependent, as different mushrooms have different
needs. For example, Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms tend to grow better with a higher
supplement level, but Reishi mushrooms show nicer fruit body formation when a lower
supplement level to the sawdust is used.

Substitution of other supplements such as rye grain and/or brown rice flour work great
too. The use of wheat bran and millet are just industry standards. The main purpose of
the supplement is to add readily available nutrients to the mushroom in order to speed up
production. Wheat bran is probably the cheapest supplement, but wild birdseed has
shown increasingly great results and is very inexpensive.

Not all sawdust is the same. Sawdust varies from source to source and it holds moisture
more or less based on its particle size, type, and initial moisture content. The best
consistency of sawdust to use is a 50/50 mix of fine and coarse particles. The fine
sawdust has the consistency of flour, where as the coarse is just above that or even as
dense as hardwood mulch. Keep notes on formulas for replicating the substrate formula
that works the best given your situation. Here is a generic fruiting formula by volume:

      2 parts hardwood sawdust
      1 part wheat bran
      Add water same as before

The key to a good fruiting formula is largely based on reliable mushroom spawn and
experimentation. Always experiment because each mushroom strain has different
characteristics. Find what works best for your situation, and then build on it.


Mason jars are preferred, other jars or small drinking glasses (with tin foil covering) are
substituted too. However, there is a greater chance for drinking glasses to crack in the
sterilization process versus mason jars. There are 3 main parts to the jar: substrate,
contamination barrier, and lid. Once a suitable container is found and loaded with
substrate, then a contamination barrier is added and the container caped off for

There are a number of ways to prepare the lid depending on the inoculation technique. If
no holes are put into the lid, then a seal is created in the jar after sterilization. When the
jar is opened, the seal pulls in the outside air contaminating the jar. To avoid this using
two-piece mason caps, place the lid with the rubber sealing edge up, then screw down the
band lightly. For one-piece jar lids simply leave them on loosely so their rubber gasket
does not form a seal with the jar rim. After the jars have completely cooled from
sterilization, then it is safe to tighten the lids down without a seal forming. The following
photos are example of two types of caning lids with holes. One is for syringe injection,
and the other is for plug spawn insertion.

The contamination barrier is the most important part; it controls gas exchange and filters
out contamination. It allows for the mushroom to breath, while keeping out other
organisms that also thrive on the substrate. It is placed over the top of the substrate
before the lid is placed on. It acts as a filter during open lid or open hole inoculations.
The key is that the contamination barrier is permeable for inoculation, while still
retaining its filtering properties.

The following steps outline the use of a natural contamination barrier made of dry un-
supplemented fine sawdust. The finer sawdust particles provide better protection when
used as a natural contamination barrier. The best combination is using the contamination
barrier in conjunction with a filter disk or poly-fill covered lid holes. Poly-fill is used to
plug holes in the lids. This is to protect the lid holes from contaminant entry until
inoculation and then during incubation. Filter disks allow for better gas exchange, but
need to be removed before inoculation like normal lids.

Step 1. Prepare the substrate by mixing the dry sawdust and supplement in a bowl.
Slowly add water directly to the dry substrate, and thoroughly mix. The mixture should
feel damp and cohesive. More or less water is used when experimenting to improve
fruiting. A good test for proper water content is to squeeze the mixed substrate in your
fist and the water should just barely drip from between your fingers.

Step 2. Fill the jar loosely, then pack and level the substrate evenly. Leave a 1/2" to 1"
inch space at the top. To get an accurate leveling of the substrate, loosely load the jar and
level the top of the mixture. Cover the top to hold the mixture in and lightly tap the
bottom of the jar on a solid surface to lower the mixture level evenly. Repeat this
procedure until you are around 1/2"-3/4" from the top rim. Further level and adjust the
substrate down to the desired height. NOTE: The more you pack the substrate in the jar
the slower the rate of colonization throughout the substrate, however, tighter packed
wood based substrates yield better mushrooms depending on the strain.

(Optional Step). Recommended when using plug spawn dowels for inoculation. Make a
hollow core in the jar substrate by inserting a pen, pencil, marker, etc… down the center
of the packed substrate from top to bottom. Next, plug the hole with cotton, or cover it
with a small piece of paper. This prevents the top contamination barrier layer from filling
in the hollow core of the substrate jar. The hollow core make dowel insertion easier, and
allows for faster colonization of the substrate from the inside out. Great for Reishi

Step 3. A top layer, i.e. contamination barrier, between 1/2" to 1" deep provides
protection from outside contaminants entering during inoculation. Clean the inside of the
jar down to the substrate level, and then fill the jar back to the top with plain dry sawdust,
and level it off. What the upper dry sawdust layer does is act as a natural contamination
barrier to outside competitor organisms, and lets the mushroom breath at the same time.
It is also a natural food source for wood loving mushrooms like Shiitake, Reishi, Lions
Mane, and Oyster.

Step 4. Place the lid on the jar. Screw the lid on loose, not tightened, so steam can
penetrate. When steaming or pressure-cooking is performed, protect the jars from water
dripping down from the underside of the pot lid. This water can get into the jars with lid
holes and throw off the substrate formula. To prevent this, wrap some tin foil around the
cap to ward off the water. The tin foil can be removed after steaming, or left on until
inoculation time. The average pressure-cooking sterilization time for ½ pint - pint sized
jars is 40-45 minutes at 10 p.s.i. or higher. Double the time when steaming with a pot of
boiling water. It is recommended to let the wet substrate sit over night at room
temperature before sterilization. This allows any contamination that is heat resistant
while dormant to become active and vulnerable to destruction by the heat.


The wet substrate in the jars requires sterilization to kill off any organisms such as
bacteria, molds, and other fungus that are already present in the substrate. Sterilization is
achieved by heating the substrate to a high temperature, and then maintaining it for a
period of time. A good practice, especially when steaming, is to let the un-sterilized
substrate jars sit for 12-24 hours at room temperature. This allows contaminates in the
wet substrate to begin growing, therefore, making them more susceptible to death by the
high heat. The jars are safe for inoculation once they are completely cool. Sterilization
times vary based on the type and amount of substrate in use, as well as the sterilization
method. The two most common are steaming and pressure-cooking.

Steam sterilizing substrate jars with regular cookware is possible, but pressure-cooking is
recommended. A 3 piece vegetable steamer used for the steam sterilizing stage works
good, but takes longer than pressure-cooking and is less reliable. A simple pot of boiling
water is good too, as long as the jar bottoms are kept off the pot bottom where the high
temperatures will crack the glass. The following are overviews for sterilizing jars:

Steaming - Heat a pot of water to a boil; make sure there is a rack or thick cloth to keep
the containers off the pot bottom. Put the jars into the pot with the lids a little loose so
that the steam can penetrate the jars quickly. The jars can sit in water but make sure
boiling water can't slosh into the jars. Turn the heat down and gently steam the jars at a
low boil in a tightly covered pot. A good tight fitting pot lid is essential for successful
steaming. After the jars have cooled, tighten the lids and store them in a cool draft free
place until ready to inoculate them.

Pressure-Cooking - Jars are sterilized quicker with a pressure cooker at 10-15 p.s.i., and
with less chance for drying out versus steaming. Make sure there is enough water in your
pressure cooker for it to run properly, but not so high that it gets into the jars. For proper
and safe use of the pressure cooker, always refer to the manual that comes with it. If the
cooker is used and has no manual, try to get one from the manufacturer before using it.
Pressure cookers can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Pressure cooking sterilization
times start when the cooker’s weight begins to rattle, not when heat is applied or when it
sounds like the water is boiling.

Sterilization times vary depending on the substrate type and amount sterilized. A general
rule of thumb is the larger the substrate volume, the longer the sterilization time.
Steaming takes about twice as long as pressure-cooking.

Be careful not to overheat the jars, this dries out the substrate. Drying is evidenced by
slow and halted tissue growth. The mycelium will spread out but stop at a certain points
depending on how dry the substrate has become. Generally, any halted growth with no
contamination means dried substrate. The remedy is to increase the water content of the
substrate formula in use.


Inoculation depends on the type of spawn used. The main types of spawn are plug, grain,
and liquid culture. There are many techniques for the use of these types of spawn. The
following outlines the use of plug spawn dowels to inoculate mason jars with a dry
sawdust contamination barrier. Traditionally plug spawn dowels are used for natural
cultivation using logs, however, jars stuffed with sawdust work too.

Inoculation of the Substrate Jars with no Holes - Remove the lid and insert 1 or more
dowels equally spaced. One to five inoculations points works best with 1 in the middle
and 4 equally spaced around the rim. Using multiple inoculation points around the edges
of the jar (good for larger jars) speeds up colonization. The only downfall is the jar is
prone to a higher chance of contamination. Keep in mind that the longer the lid is off,
then the longer the period for contamination entry. A good contamination barrier is
essential when using this technique.

Inoculation of the Substrate Jars with Holes - Remove the foil cover and insert plug
spawn dowels into the pre-drilled holes. The only downfall is the jar is prone to a higher
chance of contamination when not used promptly after cooling from sterilization. This
method is safer than removing the lid completely for inoculation. However, these jars
cannot be stored for long periods of time without the holes being sealed off. The holes
allow for entry of contamination and loss of moisture. A simple solution to this dilemma
is to tape off the holes after sterilization.


After inoculation of the jars, loosely tighten the lids or cover the holes and place them in
a dark draft free place out of direct sunlight. During this phase the mushroom needs to
breath. In the beginning there is ample oxygen (O2) inside the jar for initial growth of the
mushroom onto the substrate. However, as the mushroom continues to colonize the
substrate, carbon dioxide (CO2) begins to build up. Some mushrooms are more tolerant
of high CO2 levels and continue to grow. Some mushrooms need gas exchange of the
CO2 with O2 or else growth slows down to a halt. Therefore, a loose lid or lightly
covered holes allows for gas exchange.

This is a simple tub in tub incubator using stackable storage totes in two different sizes
and a fish tank-heating element.

If the temperature is kept around 75 F degrees, then the start of colonization is seen in 3
to 5 days, depending on the mushroom strain. Good colonization is seen as thick white
mycelium fanning out across the surface of the substrate. If it gets cold indoors, then an
incandescent light shinning down on the tops of the jars is a good heating technique. Try
to keep the temperature around 75 F degrees and don't overheat the jars. A warm overall
house temperature is fine. The cooler the temperatures the slower the growth, but the rule
is to not overheat.

Reasons for no Growth:
   1. The substrate jars were not allowed to cool down after sterilization, killing the
   2. Substrate mix is off, usually because it is too dry.
   3. The jars are contaminated, usually due to poor sterilization
   4. Bad spawn - spawn can be exposed to killing heat during shipping, mainly
      because of hot mailboxes in the summer. Most spawn can survive freezing, but
      extreme low temperatures are destructive.

Let the jars incubate for a few more days after the substrate turns completely white with
the mycelium. This allows the mycelium to penetrate deep into the substrate. Now it is
time to start the fruiting cycle. The time scale and fruiting characteristics varies for each

mushroom strain. It also varies depending on the cultivation technique used. Some
examples are fruiting from the jar, outside the jar, or casing.


The jar is fully colonized and ready for fruiting. There are two main ways to go from
here, fruit inside or outside the jar. If the jar has tapered sides, then the colonized
substrate block called a “cake” is removable. The cake is fruited directly or in a “casing”.
Which method works best is dependent on the mushroom strain and your conditions.

A “casing” is simply burying the colonized mushroom substrate in a nutrient free
moisture rich soil, called casing soil. The most common casing soil is made from a 1:1
volume mix of peat and vermiculite, commonly sold as seed starting material with lime
added to balance the pH level. Cased cakes are completely buried whole and/or
crumbled, or are placed with a top and bottom casing layer leaving the sides exposed.
Which works best is again dependent on the mushroom strain.

Mushrooms fruit in waves called flushes, usually two or three flushes before the substrate
becomes exhausted. A flush has occurred when the mushroom substrate puts out fruit
bodies, then it goes dormant for period of time before putting out another flush. The first
and second flushes usually produce the best fruit bodies. The following are a few general
fruiting recommendations for some species of wood loving mushrooms:

Shiitake (Lentinula edodes): Fruits best outside of the jar as a cake like a mini sawdust
block. Remove the Shiitake cake from its jar after full colonization, or leave it in the jar
until the fully colonized Shiitake substrate begins to bark over. The barking over effect is
seen as the mycelium turning brown, it is a natural Shiitake process by which the
mycelium develops a protective layer to maintain moisture and protect itself from outside
contamination. Cakes may or may not fully bark over before putting out fruit as seen in
the following photos.

The left cake was removed before barking over had begun, but completely barked over
before any fruit appeared. The right cake was kept in the jar until it began to bark over,
and then put out fruit shortly after removal from the jar. A cold-water dunk helps to
trigger fruiting, as most Shiitake strains tend to fruit best in colder temperatures. This is
easily achieved by soaking the cake in a bowel of ice water for a few hours or longer (it is

possible to drown the mushroom, so soak no longer than 6-12 hours). A cold-water dunk
after a flush helps to trigger the next flush sooner as it cuts down the dormancy period
and re-hydrates the colonized substrate.

Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum): Fruits best
from the jar or as a fully cased cake.
Removing the colonized substrate from the jar
has had poor results vs. leaving it in the jar.
The fruit tend to appear from the plugs used to
inoculate the supplemented sawdust rather
than forming randomly on the cake. If using
liquid culture inoculation, then it is
recommended that the sawdust have a good
woodchip content for best results. Burying
whole colonized cakes also has great results.
Simply remove the intact colonized cake and
burry it in clean casing soil with the plug-
inoculated side facing up. Reishi fruit are
slow growing and phototropic (grow towards
light). The phototropism of the Reishi allows
for interesting manipulation of the elongating
fruit body. Reishi also put out two forms of
fruit bodies, antlers (top right) and conchs
(bottom right). The antler fruits form from low
light and high CO2 , whereas the conch fruits
form in an environment with high light and
low CO2. Notice how the antler in the above most picture makes a sharp almost right
angle turn. This is due to Reishi’s phototropic response to light.

                                          Lions Mane (Hericium spp): Fruits best inside
                                          the jar. It is slow growing and produces round
                                          beard like fruit bodies. Fruits best when jars are
                                          placed at an angle or on their sides so that the
                                          bearded teeth like structure of the fruit body can
                                          grow downward uninhibited. The fruit bodies
                                          are white in color (some are pinkish), and begin
                                          to yellow after maturity. For the best quality
                                          fruit bodies pick them before yellowing occurs.
                                          High humidity and medium indirect light work
                                          best for this species.

Oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus): An easy mushroom to work with, especially due to its fast
growth. Performs well in and out of the jar, but not as a fully cased cake. Casing just the
top and bottom of the cake while leaving the sides exposed works well. Cold shocking,
such as an ice water bath also helps to stimulate fruiting similar to that of shiitake. Some
strains of this species do not fruit except at colder temperatures. They prefer good

indirect lighting conditions with high humidity and lots of good fresh air exchange.
These types of mushrooms are great to experiment with as they grow and fruit on a wide
variety of substrates, not just wood. They prefer a higher supplement ratio than the other

For mushroom cultivation terminology the first small mushroom fruit bodies to appear
are called primordia, which form into mature mushroom fruit bodies. Some of the
primordia form mutants called “abhorts.” These fruit bodies have stunted growth with
deformed bodies. Recognition of these abhorts is easy after witnessing the growth and
becoming familiar with the mushroom species at hand. Also, another form of mutant that
appears is a blob of fungus with little or no fruit body shape.

The one thing all mushroom fruit bodies need is a moisture rich atmosphere. To maintain
high humidity place the ready to fruit jars, cakes, or casings into a terrarium. The
terrarium is designed to maintain high humidity. The amount of light and temperature
range is dependant on the mushroom strain. However, average room temperature is
usually perfect, except when cultivating cooler temperature mushroom strains.


The terrarium, or fruiting chamber, is the indoor garden where your mushrooms grow.
The mushrooms get water from two main sources; the media they grow on and the air
that surrounds them. The surrounding air requires high humidity with or without good
atmospheric gas exchange (O2  CO2) and the terrarium achieves these conditions.
When the humidity starts to get low, the mushrooms can have fuzzy white mycelium
growing on the tops of the caps. This is not contamination. The white fuzzy mycelium is
natural and does not harm the mushroom. Other signs of low humidity are deformed,
convoluted, or withering mushrooms and primordia. For the best growth very high
humidity is required.


The most basic tool is the hand sprayer. The first rule is to never directly spray the
mushroom. Other means of maintaining the humidity are using humidifiers. A
therapeutic humidifier such as an ultra-sonic or cool mist work well, but only when
rigged properly. Wet perlite is easy to use and good at transpiring moisture into the air,
but it is messy to clean up.

Place the terrarium in normal room light or indirect sunlight. A low wattage fluorescent
light gives off little heat versus its light intensity. Leave it on all the time if desired.
However, a 12-hour on/off cycle works best and helps to maintain good humidity. If no
humidifier is used, then regular spraying is required. Spray the sides of the terrarium
with the finest mist possible and around the open area surrounding the mushroom. Try
not to spray the mushroom directly as it may inhibit fruit body formation.

The main rule is not to heat the terrarium. Heating works against the humidity and causes
drying. Lighting gives off heat and decreases the humidity. Therefore, cycling the light
on and off allows the humidity to build back up during the dark cycle. Also keep any
plant grow light (i.e. UV light) a safe distance from the terrarium, as the mushroom is
susceptible to UV damage.

Soda Bottle - The soda bottle terrarium is very simple to make. Simply take an old clear
plastic soda bottle and cut an end off. Then place it over the jar, cake, or casing. Which
end you cut off determines atmospheric O2 and CO2 content. Cut the bottle top off for
high CO2, or cut the bottle bottom off for low CO2 (plugging the top bottle mouth
opening with poly-fill for air filtration decreases risk of contamination but it increases
CO2 content too). Basically the bottle helps retain humidity, but is easily adapted to
regulate atmospheric gases. Other containers work too such as a large jar or plastic

The left photo is of Reishi cakes cased in drinking cups covered with 2-liter cola bottles.
The casing soil transpires moisture into the air, which is retained by the bottle to create a
humid atmosphere. These Reishi casings are sitting on a windowsill for indirect sunlight,
the only care needed is watering the casing. The right photo is of the same Reishi
mushrooms just over one week later with the bottle terrarium removed.

Storage Tote - The storage tote terrarium is easy to build, and much bigger than using a
bottle. They are very versatile too. Storage totes come in many sizes, shapes, and colors.
The tote is rigged with a light and humidifier, or simply has clear plastic for indirect light
with perlite to maintain the humidity.

The left terrarium is made from a 30-gallon tote with a 33-watt fluorescent tube light
attached to the lid. Humidity is maintained using wet perlite and hand spraying. Since
the light gives off a bit of heat, it is set on a 12-hour on/off timer to help maintain high
humidity. The right terrarium is made from a clear tote set by a window to get indirect
sunlight light. It also uses wet perlite and hand spraying to maintain humidity. It
contains the Reishi casings from above that grew too big for the bottle terrarium.

Fish Tank – This is a fancy version of the storage tote terrarium. It costs a bit more to put
together, but makes for a very nice display. Use a 10-gallon fish tank or larger. Light the
tank using indirect sunlight, or with a lighted fish tank hood. The lighted hoods come
with an incandescent or fluorescent bulb, make sure they are not the lights that give off
UV light. Humidify the tank with wet perlite and hand spraying. Fresh air exchange is
achieved by installing a bubbler. Bubblers are easily made from an air pump used to
pump air through aquarium stones contained inside water filled containers, like a jar.


Contamination from molds, bacteria, and viruses appear in various colors from pastels to
black. Handle these contaminated jars as you would rotten food. Isolate them from the
rest to avoid cross contamination. Sometimes the mushroom will grow around the
infected areas and contain it before it spreads. Otherwise, dispose of the contaminated
ones outdoors, and clean the jars with mild bleach water and detergent.

If contamination of sterilized jars is a problem, then use the control jar technique. After
the jars are steam sterilized, let them cool, tighten the lids and set one to the side as the
control jar. Watch for any colored growths or changes in the appearance of the substrate
jars over several days. Bacteria give off a rancid odor, and are easily detected by
loosening the jar lid and checking for the odor. If there is contamination at this stage, the

sterilization technique needs to be checked. Most likely it is not a long enough
sterilization time. If the jars remain clean and unchanged, they are ready for inoculation.
If contamination occurs after inoculation and the control jar has remained unchanged,
then the spawn was contaminated or the contamination barrier was breached during


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