Mushroom cultivation is an exciting field for both mycologists and amateurs alike. However, growing mushrooms is an incredibly delicate process. You need to get the humidity, temperature, and moisture right, or your mushrooms’ growth will be stunted if they grow at all. They can also grow mold which fights the good fungi you want to grow.
One of the most important parts of the growth process is mushroom sport harvesting. Since the spores contain all the material to create a new mushroom, it’s integral that you harvest them appropriately so that you can grow even more mushrooms in the future. Read on for our tips for mushroom spore harvesting below.
Keep It Hygienic
Hygiene is essential during the mushroom growth process, but it’s especially important when trying to propagate your fungi. Clean all surfaces well. When you create your "mushroom print," ensure the paper is clean. Wash all the tools you use, and most importantly, clean yourself. Take a shower, brush your teeth, and wash your hands. You'll be surprised how much poor hygiene is responsible for the contamination of spores.
Be Careful With Mycelium
Mycelium is the "body" of the mushroom that grows within the mushroom substrate. When harvesting the cap and stem of the mushroom for spores during the spore printing process, it's important that you keep the mycelium intact so you can get in the habit of being careful with your spores. Remember that the entire process is delicate, so take care.
Use a Spore Syringe
A spore syringe helps you extract or inoculate your substrate to create more mushrooms. While you don't need to have one—there's a swab method that works just as well as the syringe—we find that spore syringes are more precise. You can get syringes for mushroom spores online if you need anything to help you in the process.
Store Your Tools Somewhere Safe
Storing your tools in a sterile cool dark environment is ideal. You should store your spore print and syringe in a well-sealed bag. It's best done in the fridge, where bacteria will quickly die off in cold temperatures. You can keep your tools sterile and safe for months this way. This is an important tip for easier mushroom harvesting.
Know the Printing Process
There are a few different methods of harvesting spores. The print method is the most popular. When you twist the mushroom cap, place a drop of water on the cap. This helps release spores. After that, you'll want to cover the cap with glass or paper and leave it for anywhere from 2-24 hours. Place the cap parallel to a small sheet of paper—perhaps an index card—and press gently. After that, the spores will stay on the print and form a pattern. If you follow these steps, you'll find that you'll have several mushroom prints for all your needs so that you can make even more.