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Like the almond mushroom, the preferred growth substrate for button mushrooms and portobellos is compost. Preparation of quality compost is a complicated and labor-intensive process that is beyond the scope of this manual. But button mushrooms can also be grown on straw prepared by the peroxide method see Volume II.
The yield will not be as high as on compost, but straw is so much easier to prepare at home that you probably won't miss the extra yield. As with the almond mushroom, a casing layer is required for fruiting, but button mushrooms require cooler conditions. The methods described in this manual require very little in the way of equipment for growing your own mushrooms at home. Handling and measuring hydrogen peroxide requires only a measuring pipette 10 ml volume and a graduated cylinder probably or ml volume.
These can be downloadd from scientific supply stores. To measure the peroxide concentration in the bottles you get from the drug store, you will also need a small test tube with a lip, and a balloon.
Preparing mushrooms spawn requires jars with lids pint, 26 oz, or quart jars , a covered pot for steaming big enough to hold the jars, a small scale or balance for weighing, and some clear plastic food storage bags. Preparing agar cultures requires in addition a set of petri dishes. I recommend reusable plastic petri dishes if you can find them. I downloadd mine at my local scientific supply store.
A pressure cooker, although not absolutely necessary, will be useful. These can often be found used at second hand stores that carry kitchen implements, or new in the kitchenware section of hardware stores and department stores. Make sure the cooker you get is tall enough to accommodate your jars. You will NOT need a glove box, HEPA filters, ultraviolet lights, a sterile laboratory, laminar flow hoods, air locks, foot washes, etc.
Preparing and handling bulk pellet fuel substrate requires a covered pot for boiling and cooling water, a second pot such as a teapot to boil water for pasteurizing containers, and a larger container such as a five gallon plastic bucket with a tightfitting lid. Five gallon buckets can often be scavenged or downloadd cheaply from ice cream factories and various other kinds of food preparation establishments avoid buckets that have been used for paint, solvents, or other toxic substances.
For growing out the bulk substrate, youll also need some small boxes usually no bigger than about cubic inches, or 8"x8"x8" and some fresh 0. For helping the mushrooms along, youll need a hand mister, and a cool space. Later, if you are growing a lot of mushrooms, you may want a fan and an automatic misting system. Specialized Supplies You May Need Back to Contents For making agar medium, you will need agar, light malt powder, and if you plan to pressure cook your medium yeast extract flakes, among other things.
Agar is available at some health food stores, or through scientific supply houses, or commercial mushroom supply dealers. Note that although agar by itself is more expensive than ready-mixed MYA medium, the latter is only half or less agar by weight, so it is not necessarily a better deal.
Malt powder is available from home brew supply stores or scientific supply houses. Yeast extract flakes are available from health food stores. Check grocery stores, pet supply stores, farm and garden supply stores, etc. In rural areas of the U. In urban areas, check your phone book for distributors of wood pellet stoves, or check with your rural friends. It may take a drive out of town to get some. Try to find out what kind of wood they are made from, and look for hardwood for most mushrooms fir pellets, however, will work well for P.
The Basics on Peroxide What peroxide does Back to Contents The peroxide radical is a reactive form of oxygen which attacks various organic compounds.
In living cells, it damages the genetic material, cell membranes, and whatever else it finds to react with. By doing so, peroxide in sufficient concentration can kill bacteria, bacterial endospores, yeast, and spores of fungi, including mushroom spores.
It apparently can also kill small airborne particles of fungi, and the contaminants associated with human skin cells, which are said to be continually flaking off of the mushroom cultivator. Hydrogen peroxide thus acts to some extent against all commonly-encountered airborne contaminants of mushroom culture, including mushroom spores themselves. By contrast, antibiotics generally act only against bacterial contamination, and fungicides act only against yeasts and fungi.
The beauty of peroxide is that it does not kill established mushroom mycelium or interfere with its growth and fruiting. Despite peroxides wide range of action against the common contaminants of mushroom culture, there is a relatively wide range of concentrations at which peroxide will allow the growth and fruiting of mushroom mycelium.
The established mycelium, because of its ability to produce high levels of peroxide-decomposing enzymes, is evidently able to defend itself against much higher concentrations of peroxide radical than can isolated spores, cells or tiny fragments of multicellular organisms. So we can add hydrogen peroxide to mushroom cultures, and the mycelium will grow but the small contaminants will die.
This arrangement has a number of advantages. Most obvious is that it reduces the need for costly and elaborate facilities and equipment for environmental contaminant control.
By adding hydrogen peroxide to mushroom culture media, it becomes possible to perform all phases of traditional mushroom cultivation, from isolation to fruiting, successfully in nonsterile environments with unfiltered air.
Gone is the need for special clean rooms, HEPA filters, pre-filters, laminar-flow hoods, UV lights, air locks, glove boxes, or any other equipment associated with environmental control of microbial contamination--even microporous filters on bags and jar lids become superfluous.
Using peroxide, the equipment minimally required for contamination control comes down to some measuring implements, a source of boiling water, and a large pot for steaming or a pressure cooker for added security --little more elaborate than is found in many kitchens.
And whereas the traditional methods of mushroom culture required skillful sterile technique and immaculate personal cleanliness for success with agar cultures and spawn, use of peroxide allows success with only modest sterile technique and only minimal attention to personal hygiene.
Whats more, it becomes possible to fruit mushrooms--even those that have the highest spore load--in the same building used to maintain agar cultures and grow spawn, without the fear that spores released by the fruiting bodies will diffuse into the agar cultures and ruin them. Hydrogen peroxide uniquely will kill the spores of the very same mushrooms whose mycelium it protects. Do contaminants develop resistance to peroxide, the way they do to ordinary antibiotics?
Yes and no. Many of the contaminants are already resistant to peroxide, and once they have established a colony, they will grow vigorously. But evidently peroxide at sufficient concentration overwhelms the resistance mechanisms of the single-celled organisms and isolated spores, and those of very small, isolated multicellular organisms as well. What peroxide does not do Back to Contents One thing peroxide does NOT do is eliminate all need for concern about sterile technique.
To repeat, although added peroxide will kill isolated spores, yeast, and bacteria that find their way into your cultures, and these are a big part of routine contamination problems, peroxide does NOT kill established live multicellular organisms such as green mold beyond a certain size. It also will not do very well against high local concentrations of mold spores. Evidently multicellular organisms and high concentrations of germinated spores are able to produce enough peroxide-decomposing enzymes to defend themselves against high concentrations of external peroxide.
And since both multicellular organisms and concentrations of spores can be microscopic and reside on your hands or on particles of dirt or dust, you still have to take sensible precautions to keep your hands and all non-sterile particulate matter out of your early-stage cultures, even with peroxide added.
Although you dont have to be afraid to leave cultures open to the air for brief times, to perform manipulations or otherwise check on them, youll still want to use common sense in avoiding contamination. You wouldnt want to use the lid to a petri dish after you dropped it on the floor, for instance. Neither would you want to allow visible, non-sterile debris of any sort to fall into your cultures, or insects of any kind to enter them.
It is a good idea to periodically wipe the dust off shelves used to incubate cultures. You will still need to flame or otherwise sterilize whatever instrument you use to transfer chunks of mycelium from one culture to another. And I make it a regular practice to wipe my fingers with rubbing alcohol before performing inoculations of spawn or agar cultures. I do the same with any counter surfaces I use to perform manipulations with my petri dish cultures. This reduces the chances of larger particles making it into the cultures and helps protect the exposed mycelium.
It is also especially important to know and remember that peroxide does NOT protect the mushroom mycelium itself from aerobic contaminants. The mycelium decomposes peroxide that comes in contact with it, so any aerobic contaminants associated with the mycelium will be shielded from the deleterious effects of peroxide.
Thus, as a general rule, peroxide only protects the culture medium or substrate from aerobic contamination. So your most careful procedure should be reserved for transferring mycelium, or performing any operation which exposes mycelium to unfiltered air.
And once your mycelium is contaminated, you will need to start over with a fresh, uncontaminated culture, or purify your mushroom tissue in some way to free it of contaminants. Ill discuss this more later. Finally, peroxide is not a sterilant except at concentrations too high to use for mushroom growth. That is, you generally cannot use hydrogen peroxide by itself to sterilize culture media or mushroom substrates.
At the concentrations that are compatible with mushroom growth, hydrogen peroxide will not kill live mold contaminants resident in the medium, and the peroxide itself will be rapidly destroyed by the peroxide-decomposing enzymes in non-sterile organic materials.
Although some spores and bacteria may be killed by adding peroxide to non-sterile medium, there will be far more contaminants that will easily survive and grow within a short time. Therefore the general rule is: all culture materials and containers must be pasteurized before adding peroxide or peroxide-containing medium to them; culture materials that contain raw, unprocessed organic matter must be pressure-sterilized to destroy the peroxide-decomposing enzymes.
Its toxicity is very low, and it decomposes completely to water and oxygen when it is spilled or ingested. It is odorless and does not stain or burn. It is generally not even active as a bleach until it reaches 60oC, the temperature of very hot tap water.
Every evidence suggests that it is environmentally benign. Since commercial peroxide is prepared chemically, rather than extracted from natural sources, it probably would not be considered compatible with organic certification standards following the criteria currently in vogue.
However, I consider the use of peroxide to be in the spirit of organic cultivation. Since the peroxide added to mushroom cultures decomposes entirely to water and oxygen as the mushroom mycelium occupies the substrate, there can be no trace of the added peroxide left in the mushroom crop, beyond what is naturally there due to metabolic processes.
Moreover, hydrogen peroxide itself is found naturally in all aerobic living organisms and in a variety of natural environments. From time immemorial, honeybees have secreted enzymes which add peroxide to their nectar, protecting it from bacteria, yeasts, and mold, and imparting antibacterial properties to the resulting honey. The mycelia of at least certain mushrooms produce their own peroxide to help break down the woody substrates the organisms encounter.
And peroxide is even a part of the healing defenses of the human organism. Indeed, around the world, thousands of proponents of a system of healing called oxygen therapy actually ingest food-grade peroxide solution on a daily basis to cure various ills and promote vitality, and some people have done so for many years I do not necessarily recommend this, however.
Finally, the use of peroxide circumvents the need for resource-intensive equipment, facilities and supplies, simplifying every stage of the mushroom cultivation process. There is some question as to the effect peroxide oxidation may have on the mushroom substrate itself. Chlorine, when it reacts with organic materials like paper pulp, produces small amounts of dioxin, a very dangerous, cancer-causing chemical.
Hydrogen peroxide does not produce dioxin, and as a result, environmentalists are campaigning to get paper companies to bleach their paper fiber with peroxide rather than chlorine. Still, it is conceivable that peroxide could produce some other harmful substance when it reacts with the organic materials in mushroom substrates.
I have not ruled out this possibility, but I consider it unlikely. For one thing, aerobic living organisms have evolved for millions of years with hydrogen peroxide both in and around them. Peroxide is generated by normal aerobic metabolism, and it is also naturally formed by the reaction of water with oxygen in response to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight.
This means that aerobic organisms most likely have developed metabolic machinery to deal safely with the variety of oxidation products that result from the reaction of peroxide with biological materials. In addition, hydrogen peroxide is chemically quite stable in sterilized mushroom substrates, and the concentration of peroxide were using is so low that the amount of substrate oxidation going on has to be very low indeed.
Finally, I have seen absolutely no evidence of any mutagenic or toxic effect of peroxide-treated mushroom substrate on the mycelium or fruiting bodies. Agar cultures containing hydrogen peroxide give fine, healthy halos of mycelium, and the final fruiting cultures produce mushrooms as beautiful as any grown by traditional methods.
When added to heat-sterilized and cooled mushroom culture media, hydrogen peroxide evidently decomposes only slowly. Precisely how long it will last is presumably a complex function of media composition, peroxide concentration, and temperature. However, my experience so far is that peroxide continues to exclude contaminants for long enough to allow the mycelium of a variety of mushroom species to safely colonize their substrates.
Since peroxide becomes active as a bleach above 60oC, it will decompose readily when in contact with complex organic materials at this temperature and above.
So wait until your medium has cooled -- if not to room temperature, then at least to a temperature that is comfortable to the touch--before adding peroxide. In contrast to its behavior in pure solution or sterilized media, peroxide breaks down rapidly in the presence of peroxidedecomposing enzymes, as happens when you put peroxide on a wound. The broken skin cells and blood vessels of a wound contain peroxide-decomposing enzymes in abundance, and they rapidly break down peroxide solution and release oxygen bubbles.
Similar enzymes, known as catalases and peroxidases, are found in all kinds of living or once-living material, unless it has been heat treated or extensively processed. So, uncooked grain, flour, sawdust, wood, etc. This means that you will need to keep all such materials out of your stock peroxide solution.
It also means that if you want to incorporate such materials into a culture medium, you have to be sure everything in that medium gets thoroughly heat-treated or cooked clear through to destroy peroxide-decomposing enzymes before you add peroxide. I take several measures to guard the purity of my stock peroxide solution. When I am about to withdraw peroxide, I first wipe down the lid and upper part of the bottle with rubbing alcohol, to keep out particles that might contain live contaminants.
Then I either free-pour to a pasteurized measuring vessel or I use a clean, pasteurized pipette with the mouthend plugged with cotton to draw up the solution.
Pipettes do not need to be autoclaved, but they should be at least steeped in boiling water filled somewhat beyond the top graduation, but below the cotton plug for a few minutes, then cooled, before using them to withdraw peroxide.
A one hundred milliliter graduated cylinder makes a convenient vessel for steeping a 10 ml pipette in boiling water. The heat will kill any live organisms in the pipette, while the peroxide itself will kill remaining heat-resistant spores.
I also take care never to set the peroxide bottle cap down unless I am certain it will not contact contamination. You can protect yourself somewhat from downloading "worn out" peroxide by looking for the expiration date on the bottle, and getting one with the latest date, if there is a date at all.
The bottles of peroxide I get list only the month of expiration, not the year. It is important, therefore, to have a way to measure the peroxide concentration in the solution.
This can be readily done by decomposing a sample of the peroxide and measuring the released oxygen, which I do with a simple balloon technique. Here is my method for getting a rough measurement of peroxide: Back to Contents Get a clean test tube preferably one with a lip or screw cap , a small birthday-party type balloon, and a slice, small enough to fit into your test tube, of the stalk of any mushroom you have handy for best results, use a young, rapidly growing mushroom and take a piece of stalk, trimming off the natural skin to expose plenty of broken cells.
If you dont have any mushrooms, a piece of banana or other skinned vegetable should do just as well. You will also need your peroxide solution, a rubber band, a pasteurized measuring pipette, a ml graduated cylinder, and a pot of water. The solution should begin bubbling oxygen immediately. Meanwhile, the balloon should have become taut as it began to fill with released oxygen. To measure the oxygen released from your peroxide solution: 1 Fill a graduated cylinder with water and turn it upside down in a pot of water, making sure all bubbles are out.
Knowing the precise concentration of peroxide is most important when you are making agar plates see below , since you will be working at concentrations close to the lower limit of effectiveness. When you are making spawn, you will be working at a considerably higher concentration, so there will be much more leeway for variation. I use less peroxide for bulk substrate than for spawn, but there is still some room for variation there, as well.
I recommend you do the balloon test to check each new bottle of peroxide solution you use for making agar plates, and check the peroxide you use for making spawn and bulk substrate at least until you know how reliable your local product is.
That way, you will know for sure that you are giving your cultures the protection you expect. Also, you may want to experiment with the peroxide sources in your local area to see who sells the most reliable product. Paradoxically, cheapest may be best, because there will be regular turnover of the stock where the price is lowest. If peroxide is not readily available at local stores where you live, you will probably want to order it from a chemical supply house.
Swimming pool supply stores also may carry similar solutions. Growing and Maintaining Agar Cultures Back to Contents The first stage of mushroom growing is the propagation and maintenance of mushroom tissue the mycelium on agar as petri dish cultures. These first-stage cultures are used to store, propagate, and maintain the mushroom strains in a healthy state by serial transfer, and to inoculate the second stage cultures, the spawn.
Preparing agar plates Back to Contents There are many recipes for agar medium that can be used to grow mushroom mycelium on petri dishes.
I have tried several of these, but I currently use only one: malt yeast agar medium, also known as MYA. This medium has worked respectably for every mushroom species I have attempted to grow. It is not so rich that it contaminates instantly, yet most strains grow across a petri dish of MYA in two or three weeks.
In my opinion, if you are using peroxide in your medium, there is not much point to growing the mycelium any faster than that, since it will just force you to make up more agar plates sooner, to keep the mycelium fresh. Also, after repeatedly transferring the mycelium from plate to plate, some growers recommend that you start anew with mycelium from a storage culture, to avoid problems of senescence aging of the mycelium.
The faster the mycelium grows, according to this view, the sooner one has to go back to storage. If this is true, I would just as soon have the mycelium grow relatively slowly. I maintain all my petri dish cultures on peroxide-containing medium.
Contamination on peroxide plates is rare, as long as a few precautions are followed, and you wont need to download a laminar flow hood or build a glove box to keep contaminants out. You can pour your plates in the open air in your kitchen, and you can store and incubate your plates almost wherever you like, as long as the spot is relatively clean and the environment is compatible with mycelial growth.
However, see my recommendations at the end of this section. You can add the others. Check the instructions to see how much of the powder the manufacturer recommends you use per liter of water.
Usually it will be something like 40 to 50 gms. Depending on the proportion of agar to malt powder, you should be able to cut the recommended usage in half and get a medium that is actually better for the long term health of your mushroom cultures.
I prepare the agar medium for plates as follows: 1 I add all the ingredients to a jar with the desired amount of water.
The jar should hold about twice the volume you will actually use, to keep the agar from boiling over when it cooks. Also, see my "Note on Measuring pH of Substrate" below in the section on preparing bulk substrate. I use tap water and have not had any problems with it. In fact, when I grew mushroom mycelium on medium prepared with distilled water, growth was noticeably slower. I put lids loosely in place and pressure cook at 15 psi for no more than 10 minutes, allowing an initial ten minutes of steaming to melt the agar before putting on the pressure regulator.
If you are using ready-mixed MYA medium, the instructions may say to pressure cook for much longer times, for example, 45 minutes.
Don't do it! I also sterilize a set of petri dishes along with my medium, placing the dishes in a large tomato can covered with aluminum foil I use plastic reusable petri dishes, and a liter of medium fills up about 30 plates. I carefully remove the jar containing the medium and let it cool in the open air on my counter top. There is no need to avoid entry of unsterilized air, assuming there is not a great deal of heavy dust, since the peroxide will kill the airborne contaminants when it is added.
To be on the safe side with my plate cultures, I use the lowest concentration of peroxide that I have found effective in agar medium, which is about 0. You can add twice this much without visible harm to the mycelium of the species I have grown, but note that very slow-growing species such as Stropharia may be more sensitive to peroxide exposure. The production of protective peroxide-decomposing enzymes seems to be roughly parallel to the rate of growth of the organism. When the plate is inoculated, the concentration presumably begins to drop slowly below the initial level as the peroxide is decomposed by the spreading mycelium.
Eventually, the peroxide should disappear completely when the agar is overgrown, if not earlier. Do away with costly filter-patch culture bags; use ordinary trashbags instead. Prepare sawdust-based mushroom spawn medium with just a ten minute steaming.
Grow mushroom spawn and agar cultures on a bookshelf or in a closet. Contents Slideshow What's in Volume I of the peroxide manual?
What's in Volume II of the peroxide manual? What's this about Non-Sterile Mushroom Cultivation? How do I order the manuals? List of countries where growers have obtained the Peroxide Manual FAQs on mushroom cultivation Basics of mushroom cultivation Mushroom links, books, and vendors of cultures Updates for users of the peroxide manual Sources of supplies for the peroxide method About the Author Found a link that's not working?
Please e-mail me. Pouring Agar Plates Here I'm pouring melted nutrient agar containing peroxide into a set of reusable plastic petri dishes. This is taken in my kitchen, with no air filtration in use. After the agar solidifies and the plates are dried for a few days, they are used for maintaining mushroom tissue cultures. Virtually any commonly cultivated mushroom species can be grown on peroxide-treated nutrient agar Cutting agar to transfer mycelium Here I am using a metal X-acto knife, already sterilized in the flame of the alcohol lamp nearby, for cutting a chunk of agar culture from a peroxide plate to transfer the mushroom tissue mycelium to a jar of "minute spawn" medium, all in the open air of my kitchen.
You can see the halo of white mushroom tissue on the plate, although the photograph exaggerates the size of it relative to the size of the plate. The organism is Hericium erinaceus Lions Mane , a wood decomposer, but other mushroom species can be handled exactly the same way. Inoculating mushroom spawn Here I'm inoculating a jar "Ten-minute spawn" medium in the open air with a chunk of mycelium from an agar culture of Hericium erinaceus, using a flame-sterilized X-acto knife for the transfer.
A stack of peroxide-treated agar Petri dish cultures sits to the left, inside a plastic food storage bag. Spawn is essentially a mushroom "starter" culture used to inoculate the final mushroom-producing cultures.
The Ten-minute spawn is so-named because it takes only 10 minutes to steam it, compared to at least 45 minutes to sterilize ordinary spawn in a pressure cooker.
The medium contains materials chosen to be compatible with peroxide, in this case wood pellet fuel and paper fiber pellets, suitable for cultivation of wood decomposing mushrooms. Jars of Ten Minute Spawn on a Bookshelf Here's the bookshelf where I grow my peroxide-treated "Ten Minute Spawn," which will be used to inoculate the final bulk substrate for mushroom production.
As always, there is no air filtration in use. The Ten Minute Spawn is a sawdust based medium. Some species are better grown on sterilized grain spawn, which can also be treated with peroxide after pressure-cooking to destroy the peroxide-decomposing enzymes present in the raw grain.
There are even forms of grain that can be prepared with a brief steaming much like the Ten Minute Spawn, but these tend to be much more expensive than raw grain. If you are just a beginner at mushroom growing, whether or not you use the peroxide method, you will probably want a pressure cooker for making agar plates although they can be made, less reliably, without it , jars with lids, a couple of pots for boiling water, an alcohol lamp, a small scale or balance for weighing, some petri dishes, some small boxes, some fresh trash bags, a hand mister, and a cool space.
Later you may want a fan and an automatic misting system. To measure the peroxide concentration in the bottles you get from the store, you will also need a small test tube with a lip, and a balloon. You will NOT need a glove box, HEPA filters, ultraviolet lights, a sterile laboratory, laminar flow hoods, air locks, foot washes, etc. For some suggestions on obtaining the supplies used in the peroxide manual if you live in the US or the UK, visit my Sources page Testing peroxide concentration This shows my simple test for peroxide concentrationnecessary because stock solutions can lose their punch.
The test tube received a few milliliters of hydrogen peroxide solution, which has now decomposed to release oxygen, filling the balloon. Although you can't see it in this picture, my fingers are holding in place a fat rubber band wrapped around the mouth of the balloon to keep a tight seal on the tube. Once all the peroxide has broken down, the balloon is carefully removed and the oxygen is measured by releasing it into an inverted graduated cylinder filled with water Inoculating Pellet Fuel Mushroom Substrate Here I am, headless, inoculating a 5 gallon bucket of peroxide-treated oak pellet fuel substrate with a jar of elm oyster "Ten minute spawn.
Pellet fuel is an ideal substrate for the peroxide method, because it is completely peroxide-compatible, free of enzymes that break down hydrogen peroxide. But pellet fuel is far from being the only substrate that works. You can use straw and similar drainable materials details in Volume II of the manual , or certain peroxide-compatible porous woody materials such as sawdust-based cat litter in the UK, Fussy Puss litter , additive-free composite logs in the UK, Clean Heat logs , the sawdust derived from milling of kiln-dried lumber, paper fiber pellets in the US, Crown Animal Bedding or Good Mews Cat litter , paper pulp, and clean cardboard.
Any other porous substrate commonly used for mushroom growth, such as raw sawdust, will work with peroxide if you first pressure-sterilize the substrate, or bake it for several hours at degrees F degrees C , or steam it 24 hours, to destroy the peroxidedecomposing enzymes present in it.
Some mushrooms, such as white buttons and their relatives, grow best on compost, which can generally be prepared without peroxide, although I am investigating ways to improve compost making with the help of peroxide. Bagging Pellet Fuel Mushroom Substrate Here I'm pouring inoculated, peroxide-treated pellet fuel substrate from a 5 gallon bucket into a fresh plastic "tall kitchen bag" supported by a cardboard box.
In some cases, it may be more convenient to add spawn to the bags after filling, rather than before. And there are various alternatives to using bags, such as plastic buckets with loose fitting lids.
Of course, some mushrooms may be grown in beds rather than in bags. This is taken in my kitchen. No HEPA filters or glove box in sight. Jars of "Ten Minute Spawn" in the background. Mushroom substrate, bagged and sealed This is what my wood-decomposing mushroom cultures look like after the trash bag is filled with inoculated, peroxide-treated substrate and sealed with a twist tie. I leave the bag in the cardboard box until the mycelium knits the substrate together.
There is no filter on the bag for gas exchange, as the thin plastic allows enough oxygen to diffuse through to the culture. Photo courtesy of Joe Durham. Lions Mane and Almond mushrooms grown with peroxide.
Lions Mane photo courtesy of Joe Durham. This is what it is all about! What are the additional advantages of the peroxide method? What are the limitations of peroxide use in mushroom growing? What are the different ways a mushroom grower can use peroxide? Can I use peroxide for growing mushrooms on straw or compost?
What substrates can I use for mushroom growing with peroxide? What mushrooms can I grow in the presence of peroxide? How effective is peroxide treatment in mushroom cultivation? How safe is peroxide use in mushroom culture? Can peroxide be used for certified "organic" growing of mushrooms? What equipment do I need to grow mushrooms using the peroxide method? Can the peroxide method be used to grow mushrooms commercially? What are the comparative costs of growing mushrooms with peroxide?
How do I order the peroxide manual? With peroxide, you can make sawdust spawn medium from wood pellet fuel with just a ten minute steaming, rather than pressure sterilization. This is one of the fastest methods of making mushroom spawn yet devised. The spawn can then be grown on a bookshelf in your home, rather than in a sterile laboratory. And, the amount of spawn you can make isn't limited by the size of your pressure cooker, since you can use any of a variety of large pots with fitted lids instead.
With peroxide, you can prepare sawdust cultures without pressure sterilizing either the bulk substrate or the supplements. You can even do it without heating the substrate. To do this, you will need to use peroxide-compatible starting materials such as wood pellet fuel and selected nitrogen supplements.
Volume I of the peroxide manual describes a simple pellet fuel procedure with a boiling-water pasteurization, and it gives the details on how to select appropriate materials and supplements.
Volume II of the manual presents an "add-and-stir" protocol for preparing peroxide-compatible porous substrates such as pellet fuel, paper fiber pellets, and kiln-dried sawdust, using peroxide at room temperature. Peroxide can do away with costly filter-patch culture bags for bulk substrate. Grow cultures in ordinary trashbags placed inside boxes right out of the package, or in reusable plastic buckets with lids. Added peroxide keeps cultures from going anaerobic breakdown of the added peroxide by the mushroom mycelium releases oxygen.
This makes it possible to pack sawdust-based substrate more tightly, creating a denser substrate favored by many species. Peroxide kills mushroom spores, so you can grow agar cultures in the same building you use to fruit your mushrooms, even if the mushrooms produce a high spore load. Peroxide kills contaminants without encouraging new resistant strains. Antibiotics, sometimes added to agar medium, kill only bacteria, and can select for antibiotic resistant mutants.
Enzymes in raw sawdust will destroy peroxide in short order. Therefore, something has to be done to eliminate these enzymes before peroxide can be usefully added to sawdust.
With current technology, this means pressure sterilizing. However, wood pellet fuel, paper fiber pellets e. Crown Animal Bedding or Good Mews cat litter, etc. Wood pellet fuel is sawdust that has been made into hard dry pellets that can be burned in special pellet stoves. The heat and pressure used to create such pellets destroys the peroxide-decomposing enzymes.
Clean newsprint, cardboard, and paper pulp can also accept peroxide as can the woody material in composite logs, and probably also the sawdust derived from milling of kiln-dried lumber. Finally, a number of "drainable" materials can be prepared readily with peroxide despite the enzymes. These materials include straw and similar plant remains, seed and nut hulls, and wood chips see Volume II of the manual for details.
Because of their enzyme content, most soft-textured raw nitrogen supplements such as bran, cornmeal, cottonseed meal, etc. However, certain processed supplements, which lack the peroxide-decomposing enzymes found in traditional supplements, do not have to be baked or pressure sterilized see Volume I of the manual for details. Instead, they can be mixed with the substrate and treated with it. Also, my recent research has shown that steel cut oats can be used without sterilization despite their enzyme content, to enrich substrate for oyster mushrooms following the "Add-and-stir" procedure in Volume II of the peroxide manual.
In some circumstances, using the peroxide method prevents use of commercial spawn. For mushroom mycelium to grow in the presence of peroxide, it must be adapted to peroxide at a low concentration, usually by incubation of a sample of mycelium on peroxide-treated nutrient agar for a period of roughly two weeks. Without this adaptation process, peroxide will strongly inhibit or even kill mycelium at the concentrations used to prepared bulk substrate.
But when properly adapted, the mycelium grows freely in peroxide-treated bulk substrate. Spawn sold commercially has generally not been adapted to peroxide, so it will normally fail to thrive when inoculated into peroxide-treated substrate. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule.
For instance, those materials which contain active peroxidedecomposing enzymes, such as straw and similar drainable "raw" substrates, can be pasteurized with a peroxide soak and then inoculated with commercial spawn. In these substrates, the peroxide will disappear by decomposition sometime after the grower drains off the soaking solution, allowing growth of the non-adapted mycelium in the peroxide-treated substrate..
If you want to germinate mushroom spores, it is best to start them first on nonperoxide medium and then transfer the mycelium to peroxide agar. Procedures for doing this are now included in Volume II of the peroxide manual. There are two drawbacks of peroxide for liquid culture.
One is that blenderized mycelium has to be used to inoculate liquid cultures. Blenderizing releases peroxidedecomposing enzymes previously encapsulated in the mycelial cells, causing peroxide to decompose in the medium.
The other drawback is that, assuming one could overcome the first problem, the peroxide concentration will steadily fall as mushroom tissue circulates through the medium during the course of ordinary growth, decomposing peroxide as it goes. The procedures described in Volume I of the peroxide manual are scaled to hobby use, and some may prove awkward to use on larger scales, or they may not work at all at those scales.
Nevertheless, for growers interested in the commercial applications of the peroxide method, Volume II of the manual contains substratepreparation procedures designed for any scale of use. What are the different ways a mushroom grower can use hydrogen peroxide? No need for glove boxes or sterile facilities to keep out contaminants. Use the resulting cultures to inoculate spawn and to maintain the mycelium.
No need for a laminar flow hood or a spawn laboratory. Sawdust spawn made from pellet fuel cooks in ten minutes. Use the resulting spawn to inoculate sawdust, compost, straw, logs, etc. Prepare straw and similar substrates by a simple soak-and-drain procedure procedure described in Volume II of the manual.
Add peroxide to supplemented wood pellet fuel substrate or other peroxide-compatible materials procedures described in both volumes of the manual. No need for heat-resistant space bags. Use the resulting cultures for fruiting mushrooms, or break them up and use as spawn to inoculate straw, compost, logs, etc.
Add peroxide to your own favorite substrate mix at the time of inoculation. No need for air filtration, reduces overall rate of contamination. Can I use peroxide to grow mushrooms on straw or compost?
Although straw contains peroxide-decomposing enzymes that will rapidly do away with any peroxide you add, my recent experiments show that straw and presumably other similar drainable substrates as well as pelleted straw, can be prepared very easily by room temperature methods using peroxide, despite the enzymes. The most recent procedures for whole straw are incorporated into Volume II of the manual.
There is little use for peroxide in preparation of compost. This is because compost is by nature not a sterile substrate. Properly made compost should have a tremendous diversity of microorganisms in it, even after it heats up to temperatures high enough to kill insects and weed seeds.
This diversity of microoganisms should protect the mushrooms from molds and pathogens. The appearance of significant mold growth during the colonization of compost by mushroom tissue is a likely sign that the compost lacks an important set of microorganisms, perhaps because it was allowed to get too hot.
Although one might be able to control such mold or pathogen growth with peroxide, a better solution is to correct the procedure for compost preparation. See Dr. Elaine Ingham's fascinating website, Soilfoodweb. If compost or straw is your preferred substrate, however, you can still use peroxide to maintain agar cultures and prepare spawn. In addition, most mushrooms that grow on straw or compost will also grow on wood pellet fuel or similar peroxide-compatible materials prepared by the peroxide method as are the almond mushrooms shown below although the overall yield may be lower for some species.
You can use straw and similar drainable materials, wood chips, and nut and seed hulls details in Volume II of the manual , or certain peroxide-compatible porous woody materials, such as wood pellet fuel sawdust made into hard dry pellets , pelleted straw, sawdust-based cat litter in the UK, Fussy Puss litter , additive-free composite logs in the UK, Clean Heat logs , the sawdust derived from milling of kiln-dried lumber oyster mushrooms only , paper fiber pellets in the US, Crown Animal Bedding or Good Mews Cat litter , paper pulp, and clean cardboard.