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Winecap spawn not growing too well

 
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On May 6th (24 days ago), I started my first ever batch of mushrooms.

I have twelve quart mason jars with pressure-canned sterilized material, that I injected with Portabello and Winecap spores (liquid syringes). Six jars are Portabello, and seem to be doing great! They almost fully colonized the jars. Six jars are Winecaps, and have barely colonized theirs, and two jars seem entirely dead.

My substrate was:
Mostly aged sawdust (pine)
Partially composted chicken manure
Partially composted cow manure
Some pelletized gypsum
A little bit of dirt
A tiny amount of shredded straw and wood shavings

I forget exactly what my moisture content was, but I looked up a good balance and did it as precisely as I could.

I sterilized everything in mason jars, waited 24 hours, then drilled holes through one lid (with a sterilized drill bit), squirted on top three different spots of liquid spores from the syringe (the 1" of empty space on the top of the mason jar prevented me from actually *injecting*), and then put on some microporous tape over the drilled hole.

I put all twelve jars in a dark-ish pantry, that's usually around 65-70°F, but they get a little indirect light from a mostly curtained window behind them.

After a week or two, I realized I had a spare seed heat mat, and put that under them also.

All twelve jars started forming white fluffy areas on top where I squirted them. After a week or so, I gently shook up four jars of each mushroom type (to disperse the spores in the jar more, to speed colonization), and left two jars of each alone.

The portabello jars took off real well, but two of the winecaps barely recovered, and are colonizing somewhat, and the other two seem entirely dead. The two unshaken Winecap jars have continued to colonize, but very very slowly in comparison to the portabello.

There are zero miscolored areas, as far as I can see, in any of the jars.

A week ago, because the two jars looked dead, I risked contamination by squirting a little sanitized water into each of the two dead ones, just incase I got the moisture levels wrong. A week later, no difference.

I attached two photos - one of the portabello thriving, and one of a "dead" Winecap jar. The white spots you see in the dead jar are gypsum pellets.

My questions:
1) Why did loosely shaking the Winecap colonies kill them?
2) Is my substrate wrong for Winecaps? (sawdust and manure)
3) Do Winecaps take longer than four weeks?
4) How would you suggest I proceed with my four Winecap jars that are still alive but haven't colonized much of the jars?
IMG_20200530_213304.jpg
Portabella
Portabella
IMG_20200530_213342.jpg
Winecap
Winecap
 
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Jamin,

When I have done wine caps, it took me a lot longer than a month to get noticeable growth.  I am impressed that you got some visible growth before.  I would just wait a bit and see what happens.

Good job so far!

Eric
 
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From what I've read in Stamets books, winecaps need soil bacteria to really thrive.  I would guess that sterilizing the media would kill all the bacteria and make them struggle.  Not sure why the shaking would have an effect.  I've grown lots of winecaps, but only in unsterilized outdoor beds.  If you put down spawn and a preferrably woody substrate, they take off in that environment.  Since they are so aggressive, other fungi species seldom can outcompete them.  Sometimes I get fruiting in 2 months in composted woodchips.  They will also colonize chopped up leaves pretty readily.
 
Jamin Grey
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Eric Hanson wrote:Jamin,

When I have done wine caps, it took me a lot longer than a month to get noticeable growth.  I am impressed that you got some visible growth before.  I would just wait a bit and see what happens.

Good job so far!

Eric



That's a relief! I was thinking a month is the "definitely should be done by now" point. I'm happy to leave them another month or two, or even until fall.

How long do Winecaps normally take, and are you using sterilized nars/bags, or growing outdoors?

Jonathan Baldwerm wrote:From what I've read in Stamets books, winecaps need soil bacteria to really thrive. [...] I've grown lots of winecaps, but only in unsterilized outdoor beds.  If you put down spawn and a preferrably woody substrate, they take off in that environment.



I'm trying to grow the spawn from spores, so I can put them outside in woodchip'd beds with my tomatoes. Right now I don't have much of the spawn colonized... maybe I should've used a different medium for Winecap, though the Portabello seem to love it!

I suppose I could take one of the Winecap jars that are doing semi-acceptable, and move it to the woodchip beds now.

I could also try moving one of the "dead" jars to a garden bed of woodchips.

 
Jonathan Baldwerm
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Sorry, didn't catch that you were growing from spores, never tried that myself so not sure on the techniques.  Sawdust was how I started my first bed of winecaps that I used to multiply them to other beds, so I would think it should work fine as a substrate indoors as well.  If it were me, I'd probably hedge my bets and try moving the most colonized jar to an outdoor bed and continue growing the others as you have been.  Like Eric said, sometimes winecaps are slow to colonize initially.  
 
Jamin Grey
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Thank you, I'll try that - moving the best one outdoors into a bed, and giving the rest another month to see what happens.

I'll probably move a "dead" jar into a different bed also, just to see if it recovers.
 
Eric Hanson
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Jamin,

I can give you some background information on my approach to using wine caps, but the short version is that it takes a year.

I typically sow spawn (not spores as you are doing, so I cannot comment on that) in April and very little happens until late fall when white threads begin to inhabit my woodchips.  The threads multiply and start really consuming the wood starting around Christmas (we have wet and fairly mild winters).  In early spring, the woodchips get very mushy, and by April—a full year later—I have actual mushrooms.  I am not doing this in a sterile environment or on straw, both of which would speed up mushroom growth.  Also, I grow wine caps not so much for the mushrooms (that’s a tasty bonus), but more for the compost.

I hope this helps,

Eric
 
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I'm a complete newbie to wine caps but I did manage to get them to grow in my kitchen garden this year. I bought some wine cap spawn last fall and broke it up and just stuck it under the mulch in my garden. This spring I noticed a lot of growth through the wood chips and leaf mold and about 2 weeks ago wine cap mushrooms starting popping up. The first ones are now spent but new ones are popping up in other areas in my beds. Right now I'm not harvesting any of the mushrooms--not really enough at this point to use and I want them to spread further so I just left the mushrooms. But it was exciting to get mushrooms within 6-7 months of putting the spawn in.

I'm mostly using wine caps to speed up soil building in my kitchen garden but I'm hoping for enough mushrooms this fall or next spring to actually harvest and use.

I do plan to get more wine cap spawn this fall to add it to other areas--especially my hedgerows and food forests.

Not sure if the above helps at all but I thought I would share my experience just in case it's helpful for you.
 
Daron Williams
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One thing I forgot to add... I noticed that the wine caps seem to be doing the best when they were sown near my perennial vegetables or winter greens. In areas where there wasn't a plant growing over the winter they're growing but they're slower and no mushrooms have appeared.
 
Eric Hanson
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Daron,

I like that you grow wine caps as a soil builder.  This is exactly my main motivator for growing them as well.

Eric
 
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Daron, you can just move the winecap substrat to where you want it to spread. I've started a small wine cap mycelium nursery bed outside and i'm moving  buckets full of colonized woodchips into the production garden pathways, which are a layer of woodchips as well. I dig a hole and chuck woodchips and mycelium in there, so it has a chance in the summer to dive under where there is some humidity and protection from heat if it needs it..  
 
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