- Mushroom Spawn FAQ
Mushroom Spawn FAQ
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. Unlike seeds, though, 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?
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!
What is the difference between grain, sawdust, and plug spawn?
At North Spore we produce three distinct types of spawn (and many species of mushroom for each type!). Each has its own particular use, benefits, and tradeoffs:
Plug Spawn - This is the type of spawn you'll see in our little bags of spawn sold at garden centers, co-ops, and farmers' 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 tab on our website!). Inoculating with plug spawn is a great introduction to the joys of mushroom cultivation outdoors. It is simple to use, requires no tools but a hand-drill, and is great for small projects. The trade-offs are that the method is slower than using sawdust spawn and that the colonization rates are slower. We make Blue Oyster, Golden Oyster, Italian Oyster, Snow Oyster, Lion's Mane, Reishi, Shiitake, Chestnut, Chicken of the Woods, and Hen 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, 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 (which is USDA Certified Organic). 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 and wheat berries and is USDA certified organic.
How is North Spore spawn produced?
North Spore produces 100% of its spawn at its facility in Portland, Maine. Spawn is produced in-house in our laboratory on millet and wheat berries. We start by taking mushroom cultures from our culture bank and growing them out on sterilized millet and wheat berries. Many of our cultures were isolated and grown from wild New England foraged mushrooms.
All of our grain spawn is USDA Certified Organic.
Would you like 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! 207-352-0264 or shoot us an email at email@example.com.