What is mushroom spawn and why buy mushroom spawn bags?
Mushroom spawn is the “seed” used to plant mushrooms into a new material. Above you can see an example of a mushroom spawn bag. The mycelium has grown through the sawdust and is ready to be expanded onto another material. Spawn is comprised of some sort of sterilized media usually grain, sawdust, or plugs and the mycelium of the mushroom that is going to be cultivated.
Mycelium is the living tissue that creates a mushroom. It is a network of fungal cells that digests food, grows into new territory, and protects the fungus. Fungi spend most of their life as this mycelial network and are coaxed into creating a mushroom occasionally. To be a successful mushroom farmer you must first successfully grow mycelium.
When you buy a mushroom spawn bag from Fungi Ally, the mycelium of the mushroom being cultivated has already been isolated and expanded. This process starts with mycelium on a petri plate as shown above furthest to the right. The petri plate is sterilized in our laboratory and a small piece of mushroom mycelium is placed onto it in a flow hood. The mycelium grows out and is then expanded onto sterilized grain. This growth process on a quart jar of grain usually takes 2-3 weeks depending on the species. Once the mycelium has encompassed the grain, it is then transferred onto sawdust, plug spawn, or more grain. If you buy mushroom spawn bags from Fungi Ally you are getting spawn that has been transferred and expanded as little as possible. We know from experience that less contamination and better fruiting occurs from young spawn.
If you are going to buy mushroom spawn bags it is very important to get aseptically grown mushroom mycelium. It is possible to grow your own spawn with low tech methods, tools, and techniques but quality really matters. Contamination is not a yes or no answer with lots of contamination being impossible to detect EXCEPT for a decrease in yield.
Many times changing the source of spawn or the strain can help increase yields for growers who are growing their own spawn. It is important to remember the cultivation of mycelium is happening on a microscopic level. There is constant competition for food, space, and resources in the substrate mushrooms are grown in. By ensuring the spawn used is of the highest quality, grown using methods and tools designed to eliminate micro organisms, growers greatly increases their chances of successfully cultivating mushrooms.