When you receive your kit, hopefully you already have spawn as well.
Also when your kit gets to you, sterilize your hands/arms with alcohol
before touching anything.
You want to start by wiping off a small area of the pre-sterilized rye grain bag with
Pick a spot below the filter patch, but NOT on the filter patch.
Poke the needle through the bag of rye berries.
Squirt 3 to 5 cc’s of spore solution into the bag of grain.
No more than 5 cc’s per bag or it may develop wet spot bacteria or other unwanted
nasties if it’s too wet.
After you squirt the spore water into the bag, tape over the hole. Give it a good shake
to distribute the spore water through the grain. Incubate it at anywhere from 70 deg F
to 80 deg F. 75deg F is an ideal temperature. Lower temperatures around 70 deg,
or below, will drastically slow down colonization, and sometimes prevent germination.
Keep your compost stored in a cool dark place, perhaps the box it came in.
In about 4 to 7 days, you will see healthy white mushroom mycelia growing on the
When the bags of grain are about 40% – 50% colonized, gently shake it up and break
up the colonizing grain a little. Do not squish the rye berries, just gently break them
up and distribute them around the bag. This will help for faster colonization. It’s not
necessary, but it will help. Give it a few more days and it should be 100% colonized.
Usually they take anywhere from 10 – 16 days on average.
Next, prepare to mix the colonized grain with the HMC compost, using good clean
sterile procedures such as described in this document. This is very important…
It’s us humans that introduce the unwanted contamination usually. Be sure your
hands and arms are cleaned really well with 70% alcohol. Wear a facemask and
don’t breathe on the compost, lots of germs come from our breath. Wear freshly
laundered clothes, and avoid any contact with animals (ie: cats & dogs) before
starting the process. Try to avoid furniture that pets lay on, before and during the
process. Be sure to wipe down the growing chamber with 70% alcohol first so it’s
sterile from germs, dirt, etc.
Remember to let the chamber completely dry before adding compost.
Next, mix 1 bag of colonized grain with 10 lbs of compost. All you need is one healthy bag of colonized rye berries to make the kit work…one bag is all most growers use.
DO NOT use any bags of grain that do not look healthy or you think might be contaminated. Smell through the patch, if it smells slightly sweet and has a malt aroma, it should be good to use. A contaminated bag will ruin the compost. If an additional bag is questionable, don’t risk it, one bag of healthy colonized grain is all that is needed. And, please do not ask us for replacement bags if some of them don’t work. This does rarely occur with rye grain. There are no replacements on these kits, so be cautious of bags of grain that may be unhealthy. The compost itself is what produces the mass mushrooms, not the grain.
Now you’re ready to put all your compost in the chamber box. Remember, you never know what germs are on the outside of these bags before the actual day of use. Be sure to clean your hands before handling any of the bags. Put on hospital type rubber/latex gloves and mist with alcohol, allow to dry. Try and not touch the outside of the compost bag to the inside of your now sterile growing box. After dumping in your compost, clean your hands again with alcohol. Then open your bag of colonized grain and dump it in with the compost. Clean your hands again with alcohol 70%. Now start mixing the colonized grain and compost together. It is best to break up the grain in BB size pieces. The more small pieces of colonized grain means the more inoculation sites on the compost, which, in turn will help the compost colonize faster. Be sure and try to level out the surface so it’s rather even. Small valleys in the top layer may cause some areas of the surface to fruit faster than others. Most mushroom mycelia colonized this compost very fast. Within 4 to 5 days, your compost should be looking whitish with mycelia.
The compost in the chamber will turn into one big solid cake mass of mycelium. Once it is fully colonized, now is a good time to initiate pinning and fruiting. By giving it a 12 x 12 on/off light cycle, it will start pinning and fruiting within 5 – 12 days (generally) of being given light. You will soon be harvesting mushrooms in a few days (almost there). Keep the light cycle going, and you should typically see 3 or more good flushes before the compost is spent. Usually flushes are 7 – 10 days apart.
It is recommended that you keep your temps between 70f – 80f for best results. Lower temps will slow down colonizing, but will also lesson chances of contamination setting in. Some strains have fruited on this compost in temps as low as 45f, so these temps are not written in stone, they are only suggested. Temperature drops of about 10 deg. are not necessary, but they do improve pinning. Also, we DO NOT recommend using heating pads under these kits. Even on low setting, they generate too much heat to the bottom. For germination of spores in the rye berry bags, try and keep them at a constant 75f-80f. Anything lower and they may take longer to germinate.
It is recommended to keep everything in the dark until the compost is fully colonized. Although from recent scientific reports we have read, dung-loving mushrooms will tend to give healthier flushes throughout the life cycle. The downside to this is they may start fruiting too early. We recommend keeping the compost stored in the dark until it is at least 80-70% colonized, 2 –3 weeks from when you mixed the grain into the compost. Then give it a 12 x 12 on/off light cycle for optimal results. This is not written in stone either. Normal light from a window across the room is good enough. Giving it too much light early on may initiate the pinning and fruiting cycle too early, thus giving uneven flushes of mushrooms.
So, for best results and even flushes, allow the compost to be fully colonized before giving it a regular light cycle. Sometimes you may see a few spots here and there not fully colonized, even though it’s been 3 weeks. That is ok, go ahead and initiate the pinning. If you see your compost colonizing along rapidly, then these few small spots stall out, go ahead and initiate the light cycle.
Humidifiers are not needed if using the High Mountain compost inside the supplied chamber. This compost puts off enough humidity that it creates a mini rain forest inside. If you see that more than an inch of water has collected in the bottom, pour it off. You may see a lot of condensation and sometimes even small puddles of water on the surface. This is normal, and the mushrooms will absorb this on the 1st flush. Sometimes you will also see a yellowing color of the water. That is a normal indication of the compost metabolizing, basically giving off a waste product from the mycelia.
Do Not Fan. These kits come with pre-drilled holes for air exchange. We have experimented plenty and these holes work fine for proper air exchange. Pick as they fully mature and spores begin to drop.
Only 1 quart bag of healthy colonized grain is needed, but more can be used. Ten lbs of compost takes about 10-15 days to fully colonize the compost. Times vary according to the speed of the strain, temperature, etc. You are given 1 bag with your kit, and only 1 is needed. We’ve even seen these kits flush 3 to 5 times before. But, that is an exception. You can also use any other colonized grain such as brown rice/vermiculite, birdseed, wheat grain etc., to spawn these kits. It does not have to be the rye berries we include, any good healthy colonized spawn will work. Just be sure it’s healthy and uncontaminated, verify odor is sweet and slightly malt (like old beer).
As with ANY substrate involved with mushroom growing, this compost can be contaminated with green mold (trichoderma) or other form of bacteria. No mushroom substrate is perfect. They all are susceptible to contamination. We have found rye berries are more resistant to contamination over all other grain substrates we have tried. A lot also has to do with the strain of mushroom being grown. Some strains are more resistant to contamination than others. Some will grow around green mold just fine, and continue to fruit for short periods of time, others will not. Most of the time it’s us humans that contaminate our own growing project.
Again, when your kit arrives you should take note that the compost is not green or contaminated. If it turns green later on you, after you started working with it, it is because you or something in your house contaminated it. Keep away from pets, off the carpet, floor etc. Elevate your kit away from the floor because this is where most contaminates are. Always, always, wipe your hands/arms down with alcohol 70%.
With these directions, you should soon see successful results from your efforts and thank you for using High Mountain Compost Kits! Buy Now!
If you are not using your kit within a week, store the unopened compost and rye berries in a cool place, like a refrigerator.