How to Overcome Challenges in Growing Mushrooms

Dealing with mushroom growing challenges

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Mushroom cultivation is an exciting endeavor, combining the joys of gardening with the thrill of harvesting your own gourmet ingredients. But like all horticultural pursuits, growing mushrooms comes with its own set of challenges. From contamination issues to poor fruiting, we’ll delve into common problems you might encounter and, most importantly, how to solve them. So if you’re looking to optimize your mycelium’s potential, read on!


One of the most common problems mushroom cultivators face is contamination. This often arises from bacteria, mold, or other competing fungi. You’ll notice strange colors (like green, black, or pink), off smells, or abnormal growth.

Contamination. Mushroom growing problem

To troubleshoot this issue, start with prevention. Maintaining a clean and sterile environment is crucial. 70% isopropyl alcohol is your best friend. Always sanitize your tools, work area, and hands before handling any part of your setup. If you do notice contamination, it’s best to dispose of the affected substrate. If only a small part is affected, you might try removing the contaminated section, but keep in mind that visible contamination is usually just the tip of the iceberg. Visit top 5 contaminations for more information on contamination.

Poor or No Fruiting

Sometimes, your mycelium colonizes the substrate successfully but fails to produce fruiting bodies, or the yield is low. This issue can be due to unsuitable environmental conditions, such as incorrect temperature, humidity, light, or air exchange.

To solve this, ensure your mushrooms are getting the right conditions they need to fruit. This varies by species, so always research the specific needs of your chosen variety. General adjustments might include increasing humidity, introducing light cycles, maintaining correct temperatures, or improving air exchange. Also, ensure your substrate is sufficiently nutritious for your mushrooms.

Slow Mycelium Growth

If your mycelium seems to be taking forever to colonize the substrate, the culprit could be temperature, substrate composition, or even the quality of the spores or spawn you’re using.

Make sure your substrate is suitable for your particular type of mushroom and that it’s properly sterilized or pasteurized. Keep your growing area at the right temperature for your mushroom species. Also, source your spores or spawn from reputable suppliers to ensure their viability.

Mushrooms Growing in Strange Shapes

While odd-shaped mushrooms might look interesting, they often suggest that something isn’t quite right with the growing conditions. Abnormal growth forms, such as long, thin stems with small caps, often result from inadequate light or poor air exchange.

To solve this issue, adjust your lighting setup to ensure your mushrooms are getting enough light. Improve air circulation in your growing area, but be careful not to create drafty conditions, which can dry out your substrate.

Drying Out or Waterlogging

Mushrooms are mostly water, and thus, moisture balance is critical. If your mushrooms are drying out, you might not have enough humidity or your substrate may be too dry. Conversely, waterlogged substrates can lead to poor growth or even rotting mushrooms.

To maintain the right moisture levels, mist your mushrooms regularly. However, avoid directly spraying the mushrooms or making the substrate soggy. The goal is a damp, not drenched, environment. Using a humidity gauge can be extremely helpful to monitor conditions accurately.


Every mushroom cultivator, from beginners to experts, runs into growing issues at one time or another. By learning how to identify these problems and implementing the appropriate solutions, you’ll be well on your way to a successful harvest. Remember, patience is key in mushroom cultivation. With a bit of practice and a lot of love, you’ll soon be enjoying the fruits (or more aptly, fungi) of your labor. Happy growing!

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