Mushroom substrate is the bulk material used by the mushroom mycelium as the target food source. Common substrates used in mushroom cultivation includes cereal straw or hay, baled grasses (eg. Teff grass), wood shavings and sawdust and sugarcane bagasse. Other sources may include paper, used coffee grounds and coffee waste, various farming byproducts including corn stalks.
The rule of thumb regarding using a wooded substrate (shavings and sawdust) is to use the wood from a broad-leaved hardwood tree species. Do not use sawdust from Coniferous trees or any other aromatic trees. Use good quality shavings and sawdust.
The mushroom substrate needs to be properly prepared by adding moisture, supplements for added nutrition and then processed further by sterilization or pasteurization. Once cooled and ready the substrate can be inoculated with your chosen mushroom seed spawn (mycelium covered grains).
Under ideal conditions the mushroom mycelium will start to colonize the substrate and will encompass the entirety of the substrate in a couple of weeks. Once the substrate is fully colonized you are ready to fruit your mushrooms.
When considering taking up mushroom cultivation as a hobby or small business, finding an all year round sustainable substrate is the key to success.