Mushroom Growing Terminology (Glossary)

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For all you first time growers, we put this glossary together to help understand some of the words and mushroom slang that is used in the growing world. Enjoy!


Abort: A mushroom that for some odd reason ceases to grow; never reaches maturity. Aborts can be of varying sizes. Common occurrence. See Pinning

Birthing: Removing a cake from its jar after the mycellium (mushroom root network) reach 100% colonization.

Brown Rice Flour: Ground Brown Rice: Jar additive.

Cake: Usually a reference to a P.F. cake. A P.F. cake is a "cake" made from Brown Rice Powder or "flour", Vermiculite, and Water and other ingredients. Mushroom Spores are Injected into this "cake" and the mycelium is grown out in this medium.

Cap: The top part of a mushroom. Often conical or saucer-shaped, at least in the varieties generally discussed round here

Casing: A layer of water retentive materials applied to a substrate to encourage and enhance fruit body production.

Clean Room: A room (typically a bathroom) with a low dust and contam count. Get the Lysol out!

Cobweb Mold: Common name for Dactylium, a mold that is commonly seen on the casing soil or parisitizing the mushroom. It is cobweb-like in appearance and first shows up in small scattered patches and then quickly runs over the entire surface of the casing soil. It then overwhelms any and all mushrooms in it's path.

Coir: A stiff coarse fiber from the outer husk of a coconut. Naturally antimicrobial and absorbs water.

Cold Shock: The practice of lowering the temperature of a PF Cake or a Cased Bed to promote Pinning.

Colonize: To establish a colony in. The process of the mushroom root network growing.

Colony: A circumscribed mass of microorganisms usually growing in or on a solid medium.

Compost: Decayed organic matter/manure.

Contam, Contaminant: Something that contaminates. Undesirable Mold, Yeast, or Bacteria.

Desiccant: A water absorbing chemical salt, usually calcium or silica gel based, used to dry shrooms.

Dextrose: A simple sugar used in a 4% solution to germinate spores and grow out cloned cells for inoculation. It is used in the food and brewing industry.

Distilled Water: Water that is purified by boiling the water into steam and cooling the steam back into liquid water. Distilled water has no dissolved impurities or salts of any kind. It is pure water.

Double-End Casing: Setting a cake on a jar lid of vermiculite and then putting a few tablespoons of vermiculite on top. Wet down.

Drying: How shrooms are preserved.

Flush: The collective formation and development of mushrooms within a short period of time, often occuring in a rythmic manner.

Foil Covers: Squares of foil wrapped over the top of jars being Steam Sterilized.

Fruitbody, Fruiting Body: A mushroom. The part of the mushroom that grows above ground. The sexual reproductive body of the mushroom plant. Fruiting Problems : How Long Does It Take?

Gills: The tiny segments on the underside of the cap. This is where the spores come from.

Glovebox: A method to create a sterile working area to inoculate substrate (Jars or Bags)

Green Mold: Trich, Contam

Grow Chamber: See Terrarium

Gypsum: An additive used to loosen and lighten substrate and casings. www.ebrew.com

H2O2: 3% Hydrogen Peroxide from the drug store.

Harvesting: The time to pick the mushrooms, when the veil breaks.

HEPA Filter: A filter that has the highest level of filtration levels, typically less than .02 microns

Hydrated Lime: An additive used to buffer the P.H. in casing mixes.

Hygrometer: An instrument for measuring Humidity

Inoculating: The process of introducing sterile spores or into a sterile culture.

Incubation: The process of gently warming a culture to a steady temperature and humidity to promote rapid growth.

Isopropyl: A volatile, flammable form of alcohol. More commonly know as "rubbing alcohol". Used mostly to kill micro organisms in sterilization procedures.

Jars: The container in which you pack your Substrate.

Lime: Calcium Carbonate, health food store, pickling lime.

Liquid Culture: A technique of germinating spores and growing out cloned mycelium for use as inoculant. Typically a simple 4% sugar solution such as Dextrose, Corn Syrup, Maltose, or Honey is used.

Magic Mushroom: Any of a number of species of fungi containing the alkaloids psilocybin and/or psilocin. Common species are Psilocybe Cubensis (also called Stropharia Cubensis). There are dozens of others.

Misting: Spraying water to hydrate

Mushroom: A fleshy fungus that erects a body of tissue in which sexual spores are produced and from which they are distributed.... Ahhh, what release is Mycoporno.

Mycelium: The portion of the mushroom that grows underground. Plants have roots; mushrooms have mycelium. Mycelium networks can be huge. The largest living thing in the world is a single underground mycelium complex.

Mycophile: A person who likes mushrooms. Mycoporn

Organic: Any product consisting of, or derived from, a living thing that has been processed without the use of any chemical fertilizer, pesticides, or drugs

Overlay: A condition of the casing layer where mycelium has been allowed to completely cover the surface. Overlay is caused by is caused by prolonged vegetative growth temperatures, high CO2, and excessive humidity. Overlay, if overwatered, becomes matted.

Oven Tek: The process whereby one uses a hot oven as a Flow Hood

Oyster Shell: Pet, feed, or lawn & garden store carry/can get these. You want ground or crushed shells

Pasteurization: A process by which bulk materials are partially sterilized by contact with live steam, hot water or dry heat at temperatures between 140- 160 degrees F for 1 to 1.5 hours

Perlite: Perlite is a bright white, porus volcanic glass that looks like small white gravel. A very lightweight mineral, It has millions of microscopic pores, which when it gets damp, allow it to 'breathe' lots of water into the air, making it humid. Mushrooms like humidity when they're fruiting. It is used in terrarium humidification because of it's ability to "wick" moisture into the air.

Phototropic: Grows toward Light

Pin, Primordia, Pinning: The first recognizable but undifferentiated mass of hyphae that develops into a mushroom fruitbody. Synonymous with "Pinhead", Aborted Pinheads resemble Joey Ramone.

Polyfil: A polyester fiber that resembles synthetic cotton. Found at fabric stores, WalMart, arts & craft stores, Franks (they still around?), flea markets, garage sales, inside old quilts and pillows...

Psilocybin, Psilocin: An hallucinogenic organic compound found in some mushrooms.

Rhizomorphic: A word used to describe the strand or cord-like characteristics of desireable mycelium sectors.

Rice Cake: Many of the growing methods involve making a 'cake' of rice flour, vermiculite and water, and injecting it with mushroom spores. Not a rice cake like you'd buy in a supermarket!

RO Water: Reverse Osmosis processed Water

Rust: Forms on jar lids, generally harmless

Rye: See Substrate :-)

Sanitizing: Technique, usually a chemical solution wipe, for killing contams on smooth surfaces :-)

Spawn: Fully colonized substrate material used to inoculate bulk substrates.

Spores: What mushrooms have instead of seeds. Microscopic, but produced by the millions by each and every mushroom.

Spore Print: A sterile piece of paper, aluminum foil, or glass that the spores of a mushroom cap have fallen onto.

Spore Syringe: Many of the techniques for growing mushrooms indoors involve mixing up a spore print with some water, and injecting the result into a sterile container full of something the spores can infect, produce mycelium in, and eat. Several companies will sell you ready-to-use spore syringes for a few pounds/dollars. This site has links to, or address for, many of these companies.

Stem: The stem, or stalk of a growing mushroom.

Sterilize: To make free from living microorganisms; usually with heat or a chemical treatment.

Stipe: The stem of a mushroom.

Strain: A race of individuals within a species. Each strain is common genetically but differs somewhat in appearence.

Straw: grassy stems of grain plants such as wheat where the heads of grain have been already removed by threshing, etc.

Stroma: A dense, cusion like growth of mycelium that forms on the surface of composts or casings and is indicative of vegetative growth.

Substrate: This is whatever you are using to grow the mushroom mycelium out on. Substrate is any material on which mushrooms can grow. Different varieties of mushroom like to eat different things (Rice, Rye Grain, Birdseed, etc..) Different techniques involve infecting substrates with anything from Spores, to chopped-up mycelium, to blended mushroom.

Terrarium: An enclosure for growing mushrooms indoors.

Tek: T.E.K. stands for Traditional Ecological Knowledge. Sort of like a technique. Often prefaced with something to tell you what type of Tek; e.g. PF-Tek, one of the original home growing techniques on which many others are based.

Trich: Trichoderm, Green Mold, Contam

Tyvek - A waterproof plastic paper made of spun-bonded olefin fibers creating an air permeable moisture barrier.

Veil: A tissue covering mushrooms as they develop. When a mushroom is growing the edges of the cap are joined to the stem. As the mushroom grows larger, the cap spreads and the edges tear away, often leaving a very thin veil of material hanging from the stem.

Vermiculite: A highly absorbent material made from puffed mica. Used in substrate jars to retain water and to help keep the rice from sticking together. It can also be used as a casing material. The mycelium likes room to breathe and grow.

Water: Use good clean water throughout.

Wheat: See Substrate

White Fuzz: A normal white fuzzy mycelial growth, sometimes caused by too high humidity levels

Worm Castings: See Additive, Substrate

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