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Cultivate Lions Mane Mushrooms

Preparing the Substrate

Use broad leaved hard wood shavings and sawdust – Acacia melanoxylon, oak, white pear, iron wood and many others.

The substrate used for growing your Lions mane mushrooms is based on this formula:

1) a mix of wood shavings, sawdust and wood chip when available ( resource broad leaved species of woods, oak is a great option),
2) 5% of the dry weight in wheat bran
3) 1% the dry weight in Calcium Sulphate (Plaster of Paris).
4) The amount of water I use, will bring my substrate humidity to 60%; (by no means does the mixed substrate feel wet to the touch, the substrate must feel damp, with no drops of water collecting on your hands at all. Too much water will invite anaerobic conditions, and soon you will see unwanted growth happening in the bottom of your bags and a sour smell.)

Sterilisation is achieved by steam sterilisation of my filled substrate bags for 6 – 8 hour at 100 degrees Celsius at sea level pressure. To ensure this method works, you have to use a clean substrate. If the wood shavings get wet or mouldy, rather use it as mulch in your garden. I advise to use clean, dry wood shavings and sawdust; if you add wood chips, you can soak them for 6 hours before use.


After sterilising, I leave my bags in the steamer until cool, covered and safe. Once cooled, the bags are moved directly to my clean room. (You may want to use a room in your house that you have previously disinfected.) In front of my flow hood, I clean the entire working area with an alcohol wipe and have all my gear around me and ready. I clean the exterior of my 3.5 kg spawn bag with alcohol and then cut the top of the bag right across,  sterilise your gloves with alcohol and then gently fold over the plastic bag to create a bowl. Now spoon out a measure of spawn, to each receiving bag (10% – 150 g to 1.5 kg substrate). I like to give the bags a good shakedown after inoculation to disperse the seed downward and around the bag. It helps the mycelium to grow more balanced throughout the substrate.

The Nursery

Store your bags in a clean, well ventilated dark room for 14 – 21 days days until they are ready for fruiting. The incubation room temperature is kept at 20 degrees Celsius.

shiitake mycelium

I visit my bags every few days and they seem to appreciate the extra care. Try not to move them too much and keep a keen eye out for mycelial growth and contaminants. Separate any bags that appear in ill health and place them in isolation.

Pinning & Fruiting your mushrooms

Lions mane will need a well ventilated, 85 – 90% RH space to thrive in with 12 hours light a day. Pinning temperature is around 16 degrees Celsius and fruiting at 18 degrees Celsius. For Lions mane, only make 1 or 2 small holes in your substrate bag. The shape of the hole will determine the shape of the fruit. a perfect pin hole will produce a pompom shaped mushroom. rarely have I had any good harvest after the second flush.

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