All-in-One Grow Kit Guide
Get a Kook Farms All-in-One bag!
Seriously, these things are awesome! We have created the optimal mix of hydrated grains and substrate to give your mushies the best environment for quick and optimal growth. We have cultivated a grain mix that promotes fast colonization, and a substrate mix with the ideal PH to promote bountiful growth and inhibit the growth of contaminants. We use a 0.2 micron filter, which keeps out molds and bacteria (which can be one micron in size), while allowing in oxygen, and ensuring carbon dioxide is able to escape. We also use the best bags in the business - Unicorn. Our sterilization process is second to none, as we cook these bags much longer than our competitors, ensuring a fully sterile environment and zero competition for your mycelium. For these reasons, we find that we get much faster colonization times, larger and more flushes, and less contamination than competing products that only use one or two grains, minimal PH controls, larger filters, lesser bags, incomplete sterilization, and shit.
Get spores or liquid cultures!
These bags are the perfect environment to grow your mushrooms! But they’re just a blank slate, like an ideal soil for your plants. So in order to grow, you’ll first need to plant the seed, or in our case, the spores or liquid cultures. If you don’t already have some of these, there are places to grab them online, such as myyco.com, innoculatetheworld.com, mycotrophic, and lilshopofspores. What’s the difference between spores and liquid cultures, you ask? Well… Spores are the reproductive cells of your mushroom. If you inject a spore syringe into your All-in-One bag, pairs of spores will find each other inside your bag, fuse together, turn into mycelium, and then grow and colonize the bag. Liquid cultures allow us to skip the germination phase, as they already contain mycelium. So using a liquid culture syringe as opposed to a spore syringe will cut down on your colonization time by a couple weeks, as you will be removing that first step from the process. Just make sure to use your liquid culture syringe within three months, and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to use it!
For a liquid culture syringe, be sure to take it out of the fridge between 6 and 24 hours before you plan to inject your bag. This way you will avoid injecting cold, less than mobile mycelium, or allowing your mycelium to go bad. Next, we want to find a room with little airflow. A small room, such as a bathroom, can work well for this. I know, I know, bathrooms are gross. But once the windows are shut and the fans and central air are turned off, they are often a great, small area to allow the mold and bacteria floating around to settle toward the floor. Head in there with your bag, syringe, and alcohol wipe.
More steps you can take in order to reduce your chance of contamination during this step include the following:
- Wear a mask so you’re not breathing onto the syringe (we’re generally the dirtiest things in the room).
- Wear rubber gloves that you’ve wiped or sprayed with 70% isopropyl alcohol.
- Spray 70% isopropyl alcohol in the room before inoculation (just be sure not to get any on the bag’s filter patch, as alcohol can compromise the filter).
- Before injecting, run a HEPA filter in the bathroom for 15 minutes, and let the air settle for 10 more minutes.
- And if you happen to have a flow hood or a glove box, these things are bad ass too.
But really, you’re fine with only the alcohol wipe. Maybe just don’t cough all over the needle. Anywho, clean the area around the injection port as well as your syringe (but not the needle) with your alcohol wipe, attach your needle (which should already be sterile), and inject 5 to 10 cc’s of solution calmly and quickly through the injection port, giving any contaminants floating around the room little time to land on the needle or into the solution and get a free ride into our sterile, nutritious, fungus Shangri-La. If any does get in there, it’ll likely take over the bag, since mold and bacteria tend to colonize much faster than mushroom mycelium. After your mycelium has fully colonized, it is much more resilient to mold and bacteria, but we’re not there yet! Also, try not to rush through the process so fast that you miss the injection port entirely and accidentally stab the bag 12 to 34 times. And that’s it! You have just totally impregnated your bag! Niiiiice. Go, you!!! Now we wait…
Incubate and Colonize!
In order to grow big and strong, it really helps to have a constant temperature. These mushrooms like to incubate at 76 degrees. So if you’re able to keep the temperature around there, they’ll colonize quicker and healthier than at other temperatures. Assuming you shake the bag (we’ll get to that later) around the three week mark, and keep a constant temperature around 76 degrees, we’re finding that it takes about a month and a half to reach full colonization. If you want some help keeping that constant temperature, here’s a heating mat that’s worked well for us! And if you’re not using temperature control, don’t worry! Just put your bag in a dark area in your home that seems like it might be good enough. Temperature in the 70’s is best. They’ll still colonize in the 60’s, just more slowly. In the upper 80’s, they’ll get hot, possibly overheat, and are at a greater risk for contamination, as mold and bacteria thrive in these higher temperatures. In terms of location, you’ll want to keep your bag somewhere where it gets little to no light. High up in a closet can be a good spot, as hot air rises and the air can be a bit warmer up there as well. And this allows your bag to distance itself a bit more from the mold and bacteria that have weight and settle more toward the floor than higher areas.
Shake, shake, shake! Shake, shake, shake! Shake your baaaaggie! Shake your bAAAAggie!
I know. We’re ridiculous. Anywho, after about a week or two, you’ll start to see some mycelium starting to form around the injection port, or on the bottom of the bag if most of your liquid culture found its way down there during inoculation. Don’t stress if you don’t see it happening right away. It takes a little time to start showing itself. And sometimes it’s all happening inside the cake and not showing itself against the bag, or it’s hiding behind the tape that you might have put over the injection port. Either way, you probably won’t start to see anything at all for the first week, or even possibly two. At around the 3 week mark, we highly recommend that you break up the mycelium and move it around inside the bag. Ideally, the mycelium is around 2.5 to 3 inches in diameter around the injection port when you do this. Feel free to do this a week earlier or a week later if your mycelium is fast or slow respectively. But if you’re still not getting that 3 inch ring after week 4, shake it up anyway. Maybe the mycelium is shy and it’s all just hiding inside the bag.
How to shake your bag. I told you we’d get here… Before we start the shake, three things:
1) Do your best to keep the environment sterile. We murdered everything in these bags so your mycelium has no one to compete with over the sweet, sweet grain berries and the fluffy, juicy, perfectly PH balanced, warm bubble bath of a substrate we’ve created for these guys. Sorry, I get a little excited imagining the mycelium excitedly rushing through their promised land. Back to the shake… Keeping the environment sterile means doing your best not to let in any outside air and contaminants. So first, try not to touch the filter patch. They’re tough, but they can get compromised, like with the isopropyl alcohol mentioned earlier, or with the oils on your skin, or just with some rough treatment. So be gentle on that guy. Similarly, be gentle on the bag’s seals. Tearing open a seal will allow in outside air and contaminants. Also, try your best to avoid poking the bag hard enough to put a hole in it.
2) Break the mycelium up as small as possible and get it everywhere. The more inoculation points the better. One tiny piece of colonized grain is just as effective as a big chunk of colonized substrate. So smash it up and get it everywhere. The more inoculation points the better.
Ok, so let’s start! While keeping the bag closed and sealed, grab that chunk of mycelium and pinch it between your thumb and forefinger or middle finger. Break it up and make it as fine as possible, but not so hard as to smash open the grain, as contaminants love open grains. Pick up the bag and move that colonized substrate throughout the uncolonized areas. We’re trying to spread it to all parts of the bag in order to have as fine and even a distribution as possible. Once this is all done, put the bag back down, and lightly push down on the top of the substrate, trying to create a flat even surface for the mushrooms to grow upwards from. Once this is all done, we put the bag back where it was before, and we go back to waiting. It should be another 2 - 4 weeks before we reach full colonization.
Depending on the temperatures used during colonization, it should take about 1.5 to 2.5 months from inoculation before your bag reaches full colonization. Once the bag appears evenly and fully white, it’s time to initiate fruiting. Mycelium will generally fruit when it runs out of food, but there are a few things that we can do to help initiate this process. These include fresh air exchange, added humidity, the introduction of light, and a drop in temperature. Let’s get started! We’ll be opening up the bag in the following steps, so let’s first talk about the risk of contamination that comes along with that. There’s always the risk that a cake might get contaminated, though that risk is greatly reduced once the mycelium has fully colonized. They are much stronger and more resilient to contamination at this point. So while the risk is still there, it is greatly reduced.
Fresh air exchange
For this step, you can either cut a couple slits on both sides of the top of the bag (just under the seal, or just cut off the top of the bag entirely. If you suspect contamination, it’s nice to cut off the top of the bag entirely in order to take a quick look at your cake. Sometimes you can give it a couple small sprays of hydrogen peroxide to help kill any contaminants. Either way, grab the bag by the sides above the cake and give it a few puffs to allow the carbon dioxide generated by the mycelium to exit the bag, and fresh oxygen to enter. Then fold the top of the bag a few times over, and reseal it with four or five paper clips. Mushrooms and mycelium are similar to humans, in that they “breathe” in oxygen and “breathe” out carbon dioxide. This is the reason for the filter patch. They use the filter during colonization and fruiting to repel mold and bacteria while allowing oxygen in, and carbon dioxide out. So this step gives them a big fresh breath of oxygen and acts as a stimulus for fruiting.
Resealing the bag with those paperclips will help generate the humidity needed for fruiting. And you can also add a bit more humidity before resealing the bag by giving just a few sprays of distilled or filtered water on the inside sides of the bag, but do your best to avoid spraying the cake itself, as tiny pools of water on the cake can discourage growth and invite contamination. After resealing, we generally just leave the bag alone until fruiting unless we notice anything needing attention.
Introduction of light
Your mycelium will grow in the dark or in areas with light as well, but it’s best to keep them in the dark until you’re ready to fruit. The reason for this is the change of environment that will act as a trigger for fruiting. When fruiting, they prefer indirect light, so avoid direct sunlight, as this can dry out the cake. We use an LED string on a timer (12 hours on, 12 hours off) that works great for us!
Drop in temperature
When fruiting, we like to drop the temperature down to 72 degrees. We realize that it’s not always possible to control temperature without some type of temperature controller, so just do your best. Moving your bag to another part of the house might just do the trick! Since heat rises, slightly lower areas could help you find the right spot, though this comes with the higher concentration of settled mold and bacteria towards the ground as well. And this step isn’t completely necessary, but it’s definitely helpful if you’re able!
Show your mushrooms where to go!
In order to avoid pins attempting to grow on the sides of the bag, and smashing into it and dying off, we recommend placing at least three rubber bands around the outside of the cake. This attempts to remove any pockets of air where pins might be able to start forming. It’ll also save the nutrients in the bag for the mushrooms that DO have the space to grow. Another option here is to remove the possibility of light hitting the sides of the bag by blacking out the sides with pieces from a black trash bag or something similar. Or do both! And since they will tend to grow toward a light source, if you’re able to have that light source directly above the bag, even better!
You did it! You’re starting to see the pins popping up. Once they start coming in, they’ll grow to maturity within a week, so keep an eye on them. You’ll want to harvest them just as the veil under the cap is starting to break. If you notice anything holding them back, you could try a spritz of hydrogen peroxide as well.
You’ll probably end up with more mushrooms than you want to eat within the next couple days, so the best way to preserve them is to dry them out! If you’ve got a food dehydrator, this is a great option. We set ours at 150 and leave them in there until they’re brittle. They shouldn’t have any bend to them at all. There are other options, such as drying them over a fan or using the lowest setting on your oven as well.
And that’s it! Congratulations! You’ve grown your very own mushrooms! You’re killing it! Great job!!!