A Tale of Two Mycelia

In late February 2018, I inoculated two mycelial networks, contained in the boxes seen below – on the left, a simple soap container from muji (also used for this project), and on the right, a shiny little green metal box.

one mycelial network within each container

This post tracks the progress of the mycelium growing within the containers.

Current State (Late April)

Both containers are now being left open. After about 1 week of being opened, the containers look like this:

and this:

Compared to last week, the mycelia has shriveled a little bit, but still has most of its spongey-ness and color.

Previous States

Inoculation

These two containers of mycelium (oyster mushroom) were inoculated in a workshop of the the fungus among us class. We used coffee chaff as substrate – the material the fungus would grow on.

preparing the substrate for pasteurization in a somewhat sterile environment

When the mushroom spawn are young and weak, they can easily be killed or taken over by bacteria and other “bad” fungii. To prevent this from happening, we:

  • Sterilized the containers we used with alcohol
  • Pasteurized the substrate to remove some bacteria
  • Used gloves and tarps to prevent unnecessary foreign surface contact

We then combined the spawn and substrate and packed the resulting concoction into our containers, and sealed them up.

the lids are taped down to prevent the mycelium from breaking through as it grows

As you can see, the container starts off with mostly brown material inside of it. The containers were placed in a dark area and left for weeks at a time.

Growth

Each week, the mycelium inside the container grew:

The mycelium were going strong and had spread throughout the whole container. With the lid unsealed, we will see if it tries to exit the container!

Maturity

Update 1 (April 4)  – it didn’t exit the container. The muji box has remained sealed until now. It seems perpetually to have a bit of moisture trapped in there:

Week 7 – April 4

So it is time to release the seals. This is what it looks like as of today:

breathing fresh air for the first time in 7 weeks

We will continue to monitor it with the lid still closed, but without the tape seals.

On the other hand, the shiny little green box had already been opened (see below) – this is what the insides look like today. They appear to be drying very slowly, and will be kept open from now, like so:

I will explore what to do next based on how the mycelium react to being exposed to the environment.

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