Grow Guide for XXL MonoBox™ Grow Kit version 2.0
We also recommend reading our troubleshooting guide before attempting any grow as it’s full of useful information which will help you solve and avoid problems.
Step 1: Inoculation of Sterile Grain Spawn
Reducing the risk of contamination is crucial in successful mushroom cultivation, and you can achieve this by working in a small, clean, and draft-free space, ideally using a Still-Air Box (SAB).
Before starting, cleanliness is paramount; take a shower, put on fresh clothes and clean your hands and forearms with a blue Clinell wipe. Ensure you have a face mask on, but hold off on your sterile gloves until step 4.
Next, prepare your syringe by attaching a new sterile needle. Now, take out your SpawnTubs from their boxes. Be mindful, once removed from the boxes, they are more exposed to the open air and any potential contaminants – that’s why working within an SAB is strongly recommended to minimize this risk.
You’ll notice grey rubber injection ports on the lids of the SpawnTubs. Use a green Clinell alcohol wipe to sanitize these. Now you’re ready to inject the spore or culture solution. Pierce the needle through the cleaned rubber port and inject 1.5-2ml of solution into each port. Just remember, the pink filters on the tubs are not for injection!
While injecting, direct the needle towards the edge of the SpawnTub. Deposit the entire 1.5-2ml of solution in that area. By doing this, the spore solution can spread through the grain, and the growth of mycelium will be easier to track as it starts from the visible edge of the SpawnTub. This way, it won’t be hidden in the centre of the grain, making observation much simpler.
Step 2: Colonisation of Sterile Grain Spawn
After injecting the spore solution into the SpawnTubs, it’s time to set the stage for the colonisation process. Remember, Mycelium is alive and needs to breathe, so storing your SpawnTubs in an airtight container is a no-go. Instead, utilise the cardboard box that they arrived in. It acts as a perfect shelter for your colonising SpawnTubs and helps keep them free from dirt and dust.
Temperature plays a vital role in the colonisation process. High heat (above 26°C) or cold conditions (below 20°C) can invite problems like contamination or sluggish to non-existent growth. The sweet spot lies between 20-26°C, and consistency is key here. Heat mats are not recommended as they can cause undue condensation, potentially leading to a breeding ground for contaminants in your SpawnTubs.
Maintaining the right temperature can be challenging. If you find yourself in this situation, an incubator might be the solution. It’s a more cost-effective choice compared to running your home’s heating system constantly, and it tends to yield better results.
With conditions optimised at 26°C, you can usually expect your SpawnTubs to be fully colonised in about 2-3 weeks. Still, nature likes to keep us on our toes, and this timeline can fluctuate based on a multitude of factors. Patience will be your ally here.
Step 3: Preparation of Mycowavable™ Coir Substrate
When the grain inside your SpawnTubs is fully covered with healthy, white mycelium, you’re ready for the next step. It’s important not to open your SpawnTubs before this point, as uncolonised grains can get contaminated when exposed to open air.
The next step involves hydrating and sanitising your XXL MonoBox™. First, take off the lid and pour 900ml of tap water into the coir. Then, close the lid on three sides, leaving one side open for air to flow. Place the MonoBox in the microwave for 13 minutes on high. Make sure your microwave is clean before you start.
After microwaving, the MonoBox will be hot, so handle it carefully and let it cool down to room temperature.
If you don’t have a microwave, no problem! You can use steam sterilisation with a pot of water. Here’s how:
- Get your pot ready: Put a few inches of water in a big pot. You’re going to put the MonoBox in the pot, but it shouldn’t touch the water, so you’ll need to lift it up a bit.
- Make a stand: Roll up some balls of tinfoil that are big enough to hold up the MonoBox above the water in the pot.
- Wet the coir: Pour boiling water onto the coir in your MonoBox. The instructions will tell you how much water to use. Stir it all around to get it wet everywhere.
- Get your MonoBox ready for sterilising: Put the lid on the MonoBox, but leave one corner open so some air can get in. Put some loose tinfoil around the top of the MonoBox and then put it in the pot you prepared.
- Sterilise: Keep the water in the pot boiling gently for about 30 minutes. Check to make sure the water doesn’t all boil away – if it looks low, add more boiling water from your kettle.
- Cool down: After 30 minutes, take the MonoBox out of the pot (be careful, it will be hot!) and leave it to cool down until it’s room temperature.
When your MonoBox is cool, you’re ready to go on with the rest of the instructions.
Step 4: Spawning to substrate
Before proceeding, clean your hands and forearms, and put on your gloves. Take a good handful of coir from within the XXL MonoBox™ and set it aside for later use.
We recommend pouring the rest of the coir into a large bowl to make it easier to mix with your spawn. Open your SpawnTubs and tip the colonised grain out into the coir. The grain will be in solid blocks that you need to break up – it can take quite a bit of force to get started, but be careful not to squish any grains.
Swiftly and efficiently break up the spawn into individual kernels of grain, as each one is an inoculation point. The better you spread them through the coir substrate, the faster your colonisation will be! Transfer the mix back into your XXL MonoBox™.
Finish with a thin layer of coir on top that you set aside earlier, until you can’t see any exposed grain. This is called a casing layer.
Secure the lid on the MonoBox™ and store it somewhere warm. An ideal colonisation temperature for many popular species of mushroom mycelium is between 24-26°C, but you can always try to mimick the colonisation temperatures from their natural habitat. Getting the temperature as ideal as possible at this point is crucial for success. You need the colonisation of the substrate to be quick, or there’s a high risk of contamination taking hold. This is the make or break stage of your grow.
In the right conditions, it should take around 10 days to see full colonisation of the substrate. However, we highly recommend leaving it for another 3 days after full colonisation to ensure the centre of the substrate, where you can’t see, is also colonised. Only when you’re confident that the substrate is fully colonised with strong, healthy mushroom mycelium are you ready to begin fruiting. Do not open your XXL MonoBox™ before then!
Step 5: The best bit… Fruiting your mushrooms!
Maintaining a slightly cooler temperature of 20-22°C during the fruiting stage is essential for best results with many popular species of mushrooms. Remove the colonised block, known as a ‘cake,’ from the XXL MonoBox™ and place it inside your grow tent as shown. Fold over the top of the tent so that humidity can build up inside.
Humidity and FAE (fresh air exchange) are extremely important for pinning and healthy mushroom development, as is temperature and light. They all need to work in harmony. Humidity will naturally build up inside the grow tent from water you previously added to the substrate mix, which is still stored in the cake. Unlike some other grow kits, you should not mist this kit (unless it looks dry).
The only time you’ll open your tent is when you’re ready to harvest your mushrooms. Even peeking for a few seconds is enough to lose humidity and cause growth defects such as aborted pins and caps breaking. We suggest cutting a 1cm slit through both sides of the tent near the top and placing an electric fan somewhere in the room on a low setting. This will create a gentle air current inside the room, which will help increase the FAE inside the grow tent.
Your mushrooms will need light to grow. We recommend indirect sunlight or a 6-7000K LED or fluorescent light a few feet away – if the light is heating the substrate, move it further away. If you notice the inside of your grow tent looking dry, it may be due to the fan being too close, the holes you cut being too big, or grow lights (if using them) being too close and hot. Observe what’s happening and adjust your setup as required. Fantastic results depend on it.
After around 3-7 days, you’ll hopefully begin to see lots of tiny white dots. These are hyphal knots that will develop into primordia, aka mushroom pins. It will take 4-5 days for them to grow into fully mature mushrooms ready for harvest. During this time, they’ll let you know if something isn’t quite right. Fuzzy mycelium at the base of the mushrooms and/or thin stems are an indication that more FAE is needed. Increasing the fan speed or length of the cuts on the bag might be something to try.
Don’t worry about any mushrooms growing around the sides and bottom of the cake. You’ll still be able to harvest them. If you want to give your mushrooms more room to grow next time, use a fruiting chamber instead of a grow tent. Check out the photos on our CyLab product page for results when growing inside our CyLab fruiting chamber.
When the veil beneath one of your mushroom caps is about to tear off, this is when you should harvest your first flush. If you don’t get there quickly enough, spores will begin to drop from your mushroom caps and make a mess! It’s best to cut the mushrooms off with a clean scalpel or knife. You can also just pull them off, but be careful not to damage the substrate too much.
After you’ve harvested all the mushrooms from your first flush, you can use a method called “dunking” to get more moisture into your substrate. Simply fill a container with water deep enough to submerge your cake and place it in the water. It will float to the top, so you need to use something to weigh it down. You need it to be fully submerged in water at all times.
Place a lid on the container or cover it to keep everything clean. Leave your cake submerged for anything between 6-24 hours, depending on how much patience you have. But obviously, the longer you leave it, the better your results will be. When you remove the cake from the water, give it a rinse under the tap and allow excess water to drain away before placing back into your grow tent.
You should continue to dunk your substrate after each flush. If you’ve taken good care of it, you should achieve multiple flushes of mushrooms from your grow kit before the nutrients are all used up.