Selecting the suitable substrate and correctly preparing it for the specific type of mushroom you’re growing is critical for your success. A mushroom substrate is a material that mushroom mycelium can grow and establish itself.
The substrate provides mushrooms with the nutrients, moisture, and energy they need to grow and fruit. There are a variety of different substrates that growers use. Other species of mushrooms have their preferences. So it’s essential to match your mushrooms with the correct substrate to have the best chance of success.
This essay focuses primarily on choosing coco coir for mushrooms with some best options. You will see the five best Coco coir as originally organic substrates that require less care and provides beneficial pointers to mushroom growth.
Should You Use Coco Coir As Mushroom Substrate?
Yes, it would help if you used coco coir as a mushroom substrate, and people often use it to grow Psilocybe Cubensis mushrooms.
Coco coir retains water well and contains enough nutrients to grow several mushroom species.
But more is needed to increase the chances of contamination and require sterilization substantially.
As it does not require sterilization, coco coir is one of the more accessible materials to use as a substrate.
While you start knowing how to grow mushrooms in coco coir substrate, many species need more nutritious substrates to produce high yields.
It’s beneficial to know a little about the mushroom life cycle and how mushrooms reproduce, as this will help you understand the role coco coir substrates play.
Coco Coir For Mushrooms: Pros & Cons
Pros & Cons of using coco coir for mushrooms are given below.
Coco coir for mushroom Pros include:
100% organic: Coco coir is a non-toxic byproduct of the coconut fruit. Besides, it is highly sustainable and biodegradable, making it the ideal natural byproduct for growing mushrooms.
High moisture retention: One of the standout benefits of using coco coir is its high moisture retention. This means you do not need to water your plants frequently. Mushrooms require plenty of moisture but tend to lose water quickly when growing in soil. Substituting soil with coco coir can help solve this problem. Its far-stretched water absorption will hold moisture for a longer time. A high water retention rate is the key to choosing coco coir for mushroom farming.
Aeration and water drainage: using coco coir as your preferred medium can help increase aeration and improve excess water drainage in your mushroom farming system. The porous structure of coir material enables a reasonable exchange of air and water supply.
Ideal pH level: Coco coir has a favorable Electrical Conductivity level (a measure of dissolved salts) and a neutral pH level between 5 and 7. This makes it the ideal medium for growing mushrooms since it does not inhibit the absorption of nutrients compared to other soil substitutes like peat.
Resilient: Coco coir has a meager decomposition rate. You can immerse it in your hydroponic farm for more than six months without noticing any rot.
Anti-pathogenic benefit: Most importantly, coco coir is resistant to many common plant diseases that normally plague mushrooms. Besides, it minimizes the spread of harmful pathogens and repels pesky pests. Coir is completely evasive of microorganisms and does not support their growth.
Some nutrients present: Though Coco coir lacks in containing vital nutrients, it still has traces of Magnesium, Calcium, and Nitrogen that contribute to the growth of mushrooms.
Coco coir for mushroom Cons include:
- Possible high salt content: Make sure you research the coco coir’s production process. If the manufacturer soaks the coconut husks in salt water and does not rinse the coco coir, it may have a high salt content.
- Possible chemical residue: During processing, some manufacturers use chemicals, and the coco-coir bricks could retain chemical residues that may affect mushroom growth.
- Varying product quality: Not all commercially processed coco coir bricks are the same, and in some instances, processing destroys some of the natural elements.
- Low nutrient content: Coco coir contains a few essential minerals and enough nutrients to grow some species of mushrooms.
5 Best Coco Coir For Mushrooms
You can avoid most of the cons of coco coir by using organic coco coir processed without harmful chemicals. Coco coir brick or Blend must be refined, sterilized, and contamination-free. In this scope, we have four specific recommendations to make your mushroom growing in coco coir a more productive and happy experience.
- MushroomSupplies.com Premium Mushroom Substrate
- GROW!T Coco Coir Mix Brick
- CocoTek Premium Coco Growing Media
- Coco Bliss Premium Coconut Coir Bricks
- CANNA Expandable Coco Brick
How To Prepare Coco Coir For Mushrooms
Once you’ve selected Coco coir as the correct substrate, you’ll need to either pasteurize or sterilize it to minimize the risk of mold and bacteria growth. This part of the process helps give your mycelium a head-start in getting established.
Manage to collect Vermiculite, a yellowish-brown mineral used to retain moisture and is also widely available at garden centers everywhere.
Mixing these two materials can create an ideal substrate for growing mushrooms.
Most recipes call for one-part coco coir and one-part Vermiculite.
For a standard brick of dried coco coir (about 1.5 lbs), add eight cups of dry Vermiculite, along with 16 cups of boiling water.
Soak the material in a five-gallon bucket for about an hour. Then mix everything up, put the lid back on and allow it to cool for four hours before inoculating.
Be aware that coco coir will expand by five to seven times in volume when you add water, so you’ll end up with much more substrate than it initially looks!
Ways to sterilize & pasteurize coco coir for mushroom inoculation:
Naturally, cocoa coir is pure and free from contamination, but to be sure more, you need to fix and pasteurize it. Below are some simple and practical methods for your convenience.
After removing the previous batch of plants:
- Place your coco coir in a large bucket.
- Submerge it in a mixture of 4 teaspoons of bleach for every gallon of water for at least a half hour.
- Stir the coir around to ensure all of it is exposed to the bleach.
- Drain and rinse the coir with water until you can no longer smell bleach.
Apart from Chemical Sterilization, Heat sterilization is an eco-friendlier option and occurs through pasteurization. Heat sources include:
You can sterilize growing mediums such as coco coir in an oven heated to 180 degrees F for 30 minutes. This effectively kills pathogen eggs and larvae as well as harmful fungi.
You can heat-sterilize small amounts of moistened coir in the microwave for three to five minutes.
On a hot, sunny day, you can place moistened coir beneath an explicit tarp material. It must maintain a temperature of 150 degrees F for at least 30 minutes to kill pathogens.
Growing Mushrooms With Coco Coir
Coco coir is inexpensive and found in most garden centers making it ideal for urban mushroom growers who may not have access to other agricultural byproducts.
Let’s shed light on how mushrooms grow with coco coir from the basics of mycology, the study of fungi, which includes mushrooms and yeasts.
Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi often hidden underground or in a substrate like a coco coir. The role of the fruiting bodies, or mushrooms as we know them, is to produce and distribute millions of mushroom spores, allowing the fungus to reproduce and spread to new locations.
Most cultivated mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that feed on dead and decaying organic matter. Fungi that get their nutrients this way are saprotrophic. And although several mycorrhizal fungi also produce mushrooms, they’re challenging to cultivate as they need a symbiotic relationship with a tree to thrive.
To grow saprotrophic mushrooms in coco coir, you need to provide moisture for the fungus to grow through. Using a substrate like a coco coir has a unique advantage. Being rich in organic matter, coco coir can sufficiently provide the mycelium with everything it needs to thrive and make mushrooms grow.
Mushrooms will feed on the substrate and extract the moisture and nutrients needed to produce mushrooms. It usually takes 7-14 days for the mycelium to colonize the substrate. However, this time frame can vary depending on the mushroom species, the container’s size, and the spawn used.
With coco coir, a bulk substrate can be made as nutritious organic material for mushroom cultivation.
A bulk coco coir substrate is usually prepared by hydrating, supplementing, and pasteurizing dried coco coir. However, these bulk substrates should have supplements to be added to provide extra nutrients for the mushrooms and increase yields.
Also, After your mushrooms are fruiting, you can dispose of the spent substrate by composting it. Now we will take a look at the coco coir recipe for mushrooms.
What is a Coco Coir Mushroom Substrate Recipe?
A coco coir substrate recipe is recipe mushroom growers use to make an effective mushroom substrate using specific ratios of coco coir and other ingredients. The most common coco coir substrate recipe combines coco coir and Vermiculite.
Growers add Vermiculite, a porous, inert substance, to help maintain the moisture content in the substrate and assist with aeration. The coco coir vermiculite substrate ratio to use when making this recipe is 1 part coco coir to 1 part vermiculite.
Some growers add powdered gypsum to this recipe to create a substrate they call CVG: Coir, Vermiculite, and Gypsum. The gypsum acts as a pH stabilizer and enhances yields by supplying extra minerals and trace elements for the mycelium.
Other growers use a mix of coco coir and Vermiculite with coffee grounds to provide excess nitrogen for the mycelium. You can grow mushrooms on plain coco coir but adding Vermiculite with gypsum or coffee grounds increases yields.
And while mushroom growers don’t use perlite in mushroom substrates, they often use it in fruiting chambers to maintain humidity levels. Perlite is sterile, has a neutral pH, and holds lots of water, making it perfect for DIY fruiting chambers.
What Mushrooms Grow On Coco Coir?
Growers usually use pre-colonized grain spawn to inoculate bulk substrates with mushroom mycelium. Oyster mushrooms are another easiest mushroom species to grow and thrive on coco coir, while many other species only grow on specific substrates. You can use coco coir as a mushroom substrate, and people often use it to grow Psilocybe Cubensis mushrooms.
Is Coco Coir Reusable?
Coco coir is highly reusable in soil and hydroponics, given that it takes up to 6 months or even more to decompose. You can reuse it two to three times without any issues. However, we recommend you sterilize your coco coir each time before reusing it since it may harbor disease-causing pathogens from the first farming cycle.
Choosing the correct substrate is critical to optimizing mushroom yield. The mushroom substrate recipe can vary depending on the mushroom you are trying to grow. We recommend using bulk substrate materials and mixing with Vermiculite to form a more suitable substrate when growing mushrooms.
Depending on the type of mushrooms you want to grow, it may not be the best substrate for you, as many gourmet mushrooms do better on substrates with more nutrients.
Yet, being inert to a chemical reaction, it leaves room for the nutrients to support the growth to its fullest extent. Being rich in carbon, the fibrous coco coir offers extensive nurturing support. Remember- Coco coir is the most low-maintenance substrate and is easy to use and control due to its organic consistency.
Hi, This is Evan, A Gardener and Writer with Vast Experience in Gardening. I Usually Write practical and valuable guides on various gardening topics. In this Blog, I try to cover many gardening topics, from lawn care to vegetable gardens. This Blog offers practical gardening advice for a variety of plants.