What is Spawn?
Want to order Spawn?
To order spawn please visit our online store! If you are a farm or mushroom growing operation that would like to purchase larger quantities at wholesale pricing give us a call! (207) 854-3500 or shoot us an email at email@example.com
Have questions about using plug spawn or sawdust spawn?
Please refer to the FAQ / INSTRUCTIONS tab on our website for detailed instructions on using our plug and sawdust spawn. This page is meant as an explanation of what spawn is, how we make our spawn, and what makes North Spore spawn so great!
What is mushroom spawn?
Spawn is the living fungal culture, called mycelium, grown onto a substrate. It provides the backbone to any mushroom growing operation. Think of it as the equivalent of seeds for a mushroom farm. Though unlike seeds, mushroom spawn is grown from selected genetics and cloned for consistent production of a particular cultivar of mushroom. This is similar to how people grow apples from grafted wood as opposed to planting apple seeds. Grafting ensures that a particular selected set of genetics produces a consistently delicious apple variety. Seeds (and spores for that matter!) are a genetic grab-bag dependent on two individual sets of genetic material while spawn is a single genetic culture that can be propagated indefinitely from the same 'master'. The 'master' cultures are kept on agar petri dishes in our laboratory.
Wait, I thought mushrooms grew from spores...
Well, yes! That's true. However, mushrooms growing in the wild from wild spores are the success stories of an odds game played by each particular mushroom species. Mushrooms choose to produce thousands of spores in a scatter shot approach to reproduction. The more spores floating about in the wind, dispersed by rain, moved about by insects and other critters, the better chance of finding the perfect environment to grow. The vast majority of spores dispersed will never result in a growing mushroom fruit-body. At North Spore we've selected for productive strains of edible fungi to maximize the success rate for people who use our spawn!
Why are there different types of spawn, and what is each type used for?
At North Spore we produce three distinct types of spawn (and many species of mushroom for each type!). The spawn types differ by the mediums on which we've cultured our different species of mushroom. We produce sawdust spawn, plug spawn, and grain spawn. Each has its particular use, tradeoffs, and benefits.
Plug Spawn- this is the type of spawn you see in our little bags of spawn sold at garden centers, co-ops, and farmer's markets. They are locally produced wooden dowels that we've grown mushroom mycelium on. To use plug spawn you need to have access to freshly cut hardwood logs. Holes are drilled in the log, spawn plugs are hammered into the holes, and melted wax is brushed over the plugged holes to seal the log (for detailed directions go to the FAQ / INSTRUCTIONS tab on our website!) Inoculating with plug spawn is a great introduction to the joys of mushroom cultivation outdoors. It is simple to use, require no tools but a hand-drill, and is great for small projects. Tradeoffs are that the method is slower than using sawdust spawn, and that the colonization rates are slower. We make oyster mushroom, golden oyster, lion's mane, reishi, shiitake, and chicken of the woods plug spawn.
Sawdust Spawn- used much like plug spawn but requires an inoculation tool for injecting into logs. Sawdust spawn is cheaper than plug spawn, is more reliable, and colonizes faster. This is the type of spawn used by most small farms and people looking to inoculate more than a couple logs outdoors. If you plan on inoculating logs for consecutive years, the tool costs are made up for by the cheaper cost of the spawn.
Grain Spawn- grain spawn is used for commercial indoor mushroom grows. Almost all of North Spore's production is indoor and utilizes grain spawn. Grain spawn is not suitable for inoculating outdoor logs and is meant for indoor cultivators or inoculating straw beds. We offer wholesale pricing on grain spawn for larger orders or repeat customers. All of North Spore's grain spawn is produced using millet which we find makes more inoculation points than rye or wheat.
How is North Spore Spawn produced?
North Spore Spawn is produced in-house in our laboratory on millet. We start by taking mushroom cultures from our culture bank and growing them out on sterilized millet. Many of our cultures were isolated and grown from wild New England foraged mushrooms. We are in the process of getting our spawn organically certified.