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The Ultimate Guide to Successfully Growing Mushrooms on Substrate

Growing mushrooms on hardwood substrate is a great way to get started in mushroom cultivation. It's a relatively easy process that can be done in a variety of settings, from your backyard to your kitchen.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the steps of growing mushrooms on hardwood substrate, from choosing the right substrate to harvesting your crop.

Choosing the Right Substrate

pasteurized master's mix substrate grow bag

The first step is to choose the right substrate. Hardwood sawdust is a popular choice, but you can also use other types of hardwood material, such as wood chips, bark, straw, or shavings. One of the most popular growing mediums is called the “Master’s Mix.” This mix is 50% hardwood pellets and 50% soy hulls. Oak & Hazel uses this mix for most of our mushroom varieties. Note that there are many mushrooms that this substrate isn’t a good nutrition profile for (shiitake for starters).

When choosing your substrate, it's important to make sure that it's free of contaminants, such as mold and bacteria. At Oak & Hazel, we use an atmospheric steamer. This will pasteurize the substrate and make it suitable for use. You can also use a pressure cooker for smaller batches of substrate. Some people even boil some substrates (this is more for straw and the like).

Inoculating the Substrate

Once the substrate is prepared, you need to inoculate it with mushroom spawn. Mushroom spawn is a type of fungus that contains the mycelium, which is the vegetative part of the mushroom.

You can buy mushroom spawn online or from a local mushroom supplier.

To inoculate the substrate, you simply mix the mushroom spawn with the prepared substrate. 


colonized substrate grow bag

Once your spawn has been added to your substrate, it’s time to leave it alone! You’ll want to make sure that the container is sealed, but has a little room to breathe, typically via a filter patch.You’ll want to see lovely white mycelium covering your substrate. If you notice any green or off-looking growth, it’s likely contamination and you need to safely and quickly remove the offending substrate. Removing part of the substrate is inadequate. The entire connecting batch must be removed to ensure no further contamination. You’ll also want to clean the area it was in with a strong sterilizer, such as a 10% bleach solution. 


fruiting lion's mane mushrooms

Once your fruiting block is completely covered in mycelium, it’s time to consider fruiting. You’ll close off your bag to most of the oxygen and this will cause the block to develop “pins” along the block. These primordia mushrooms need fresh air and humidity, so continue to provide this by slicing a hole in the bag, or venting in your container, while providing the right amount of humidity for your variety of mushroom. 


happy man harvesting mushrooms

Once the mushrooms are mature, you can harvest them. To harvest a mushroom, simply cut or pull it off the substrate. Be careful not to damage the mycelium, as this will prevent the mushrooms from re-growing.

You can harvest the mushrooms as soon as they're mature, or you can wait until they're fully grown. Fully grown mushrooms will have caps that are fully opened.


Once you've harvested the mushrooms, you need to store them properly. You can store the mushrooms in a paper bag or a plastic container. Make sure to keep the mushrooms in a cool, dry place.

Mushrooms can be stored for up to a week.

Conclusion on Growing Mushrooms

Growing mushrooms on hardwood substrate is a relatively easy process that can be done in a variety of settings. With a little bit of planning and care, you can enjoy fresh, homegrown mushrooms all year long.

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