Cultivate Lion’s Mane Mushrooms

Preparing the Substrate

To prepare a suitable substrate for lion’s mane mushroom mycelium, you will need:

  1. A mix of wood shavings, sawdust, and wood chips (if available) from broad-leaved hardwood species such as Acacia melanoxylon, oak, white pear, or ironwood.
  2. 5% of the dry weight in wheat bran.
  3. 1% of the dry weight in Calcium Sulphate (Plaster of Paris).
  4. Optional – Sunflower or Cotton seed waste (“Oliekoek” in South Africa) – Agri industry may use this as supplement in animal feeds.

To begin, mix the wood shavings, sawdust, and wood chips together. Then, add the wheat bran and Calcium Sulphate, stirring well to distribute the ingredients evenly.

Next, add water to the mixture until it reaches a humidity level of 60%. The substrate should feel damp, but not wet, and no drops of water should collect on your hands. Too much water can lead to anaerobic conditions and unwanted growth in the bags.

Once the substrate is fully mixed and hydrated, it is ready to be sterilized. This can be achieved by steam sterilization, where the filled substrate bags are steamed for 6-8 hours at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level pressure. It is important to use clean, dry wood shavings and sawdust to ensure the sterilization process is effective. If you are using wood chips, you can soak them for 6 hours before adding them to the mixture. Do not use wet or moldy wood shavings, as they should be used as mulch in the garden instead.


  1. After sterilizing, leave the bags in the steamer until they are cool and covered for safekeeping.
  2. Once cooled, move the bags to a clean room that has been previously disinfected.
  3. In front of a flow hood, clean the entire working area with an alcohol wipe and have all necessary gear ready.
  4. Clean the exterior of a 3.5 kg spawn bag with alcohol and cut the top of the bag across.
  5. Sterilize your gloves with alcohol and gently fold over the plastic bag to create a bowl.
  6. Spoon out a measure of spawn (10% – 150 g) into each receiving bag (1.5 kg substrate).
  7. Shake the bags well to disperse the spawn downward and around the bag, helping the mycelium to grow more evenly throughout the substrate.

The Nursery

Store the bags in a clean, well-ventilated, and dark room for 14-21 days until they are ready for fruiting. The incubation room should be kept at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Check on the bags every few days and try not to move them too much. Keep an eye out for mycelial growth and contaminants, and separate any bags that appear unhealthy and place them in isolation.

Pinning & Fruiting your mushrooms

Lion’s Mane mushrooms require a well-ventilated space with a humidity level of 85-90%, as well as 12 hours of light per day. The ideal temperature for pinning is around 16 degrees Celsius, while the optimal temperature for fruiting is 18 degrees Celsius. When preparing the substrate bags for Lion’s Mane, it is recommended to make only one or two small holes. The shape of the hole will determine the shape of the mushroom. A round hole will produce a mushroom with a pompom shape. It is uncommon to have a good harvest after the second flush with Lion’s Mane.


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