‘Mushroom seeds’ are extremely tiny minute spores, from a human vantage point they look like a powder. Each variety of mushroom produces and releases their spores in a slightly different manner. Some are more easily harvested than others, but all can be harvested to produce another mushroom crop.
Professional mycologists use a spore print to identify and store released spores . The spore print makes this possible without having to use a high powered microscope.
Harvesting Mushroom Spores with a Print
A. To make a spore print you first need a mature edible mushroom, it should have visible gills – which are the ribbed underside of the umbrella. You’ll also need a
- Glass jar.
- A sheet of dark paper and a sheet of white paper. Spores vary in color – some are light, some are dark, the two shades of paper enable you to see the spores more easily regardless of their color.
- A scalpel or very sharp small knife.
- A zip lock bag.
Use only mushroom strains known to be edible – many mushrooms are toxic and at times deadly.
Sterilize the scalpel by holding it over a flame.
B. Slice the stem off the mushroom as close to the ribbed underside of the mushroom as possible without touching the spores. Do not crush the mushroom and try to avoid jostling it, shaking it up too much as you will lose spores this way.
Place the mushroom cap/ umbrella on the pieces of paper with the ribs which contain the spores facing downward and cover it with a clean glass jar. Half the mushroom cap should be on the white paper the other half on the black. The spores should not be exposed to the outside air.
C. After a day, [minimum of 24 hours] the majority of the spores should have fallen from the mushroom and be sitting on the paper. Some spores should be visible around the perimeter of the mushroom cap. Carefully lift the cap from the paper,using tweezers, place the spore imprinted papers in am airtight zip-lock bag. These are you spores used for growing another crop of mushrooms. Store the bag with you spore in a cool dark dry location for up to a year. The spores should not be exposed to outside air until ready to use.
Spores can be taken from the bag as needed by carefully scraping them from the paper using a scalpel or sharp knife.
Spore prints can be preserved for artistic purposes on paper or foil by spraying them lightly with Hair spray. Hold the spray about a foot and a half above the the print to avoid blasting the spores into oblivion. I wouldn’t advise trying to inoculate – plant spores that have been sprayed with a preservative such as hair spray, but some people do do it.
To plant the spores spread them over a growth medium – manure , compost, what have you – advisable mediums vary from variety to variety so see individual recommendations. -Wine cap, shiitake, oyster.
Moisture can easily damage spores. It can also promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Exposure to outside air can invite other opportunistic native fungi to contaminate your spores.
Using a Syringe to Collect Mushroom Spores
Each syringe will contain millions of mushroom spores in a sterile liquid solution. They are relatively easy to use and store.
Before using a syringe be certain your work area is clean clean clean and sterile too. Disinfect your hands – use gloves – wipe down implements with alcohol. No not Jack Daniels – rubbing alcohol – wood alcohol.
Spore Syringes can be purchased online and should contain a sterile spore solution, a sterile needle and alcohol preps. Store the syringes in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Remove the needle from the sterile package and attach it to the spore syringe. Before using it shake the syringe a few times.
The syringes are sealed with a luer lock cap. If you shoot dope you are familiar with these – also if you shoot dope please get off my page I don’t wanna know you. Unscrew the cap from the spore syringe. Store the spore syringe in a refrigerator, not a freezer. It should never be warmer than 45* Fahrenheit. Reattach the luer lock to the syringe after use.
It can be stored for up to a year. To inoculate your medium/substrate with mushroom spores that will fruit into mushrooms only requires a tiny amount – roughly 3 milliliter of spore solution per quart of substrate. A standard syringe contains enough to inoculate up to 7 liters of substrate.
Drop a few milliliters evenly spread across the substrate and you are ready to go, or ready to grow as the case may be.
You should notice patches of of mycelium within the week. Once the mushrooms develop from the mycellium and mature, they can be harvested for consumption. Save one or two of the best high quality mushrooms to gather more spores.