Natalensis grow bag fruiting and overlay problems
All-in-one grow bag is not a magic pill, especially, when it comes to Natalensis cultivation. Aggressive behaviour of mycelium leads to overlay which is a common issue for Natal. Here we talk about what can be done if growbag already suffers from overlay
My all in one bags with Natalensis don’t fruit and produce weird mycelium
Let's figure out real case with Psilocybe Natalensis growing.
Natalensis cultivation problems and growing details
I did a search on google and found your page. It was very helpful. I was hoping to get help with my Psilocybe Natalensis that I started growing almost one month ago. I am attaching some photos. Would you be so kind and give me your opinion on how to proceed?
This is my first grow and the overlay seems to be too much? I used two all in one manure grow bags and think maybe the cake was left for too long before introducing FAE? I poked holes around the bag but things started to get weird then since there still wasn't enough air. I cut the top of the bag open but there has been no progress since I did that. I read on your blog that burying the cake in potting soil might save it?
I'm at a loss. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!
All in one bag 1, view on top and from the sides
All in one bag 2, view on top and from the sides
Shroomok answers about Psilocybe Natalensis cultivation and how to make Natal fruit
Regarding your questions about Natalensis grow bags. I’ve checked all the pics you’ve shared (thank you! it's very helpful). You have some yellow-brown liquid on top, which are mycelium metabolites. It's not contamination, so don't worry.
A few comments from my side for the future attempts with Natalensis
1) Manure substrate is not necessary for Natalensis, it's more nutritious and mycelium growth is more aggressive. Substrates based on coco coir would be better. However it’s not a problem if you use this type of substrate.
2) For Natal better to start with grain substrate for Spawn first -> then make Spawn to Bulk (bulk substrate based on coco coir mix, 1:3 ratio) -> then after bulk colonization cover the cake with non-nutrient Casing layer (based on peat moss mix) to initiate pinning and create good microclimate for fruiting.
3) Typically Natalensis mycelium is very aggressive from the very beginning. Mycelium overgrowth aka overlay is a common issue for this species. Also Natal forms weird marshmallow blobs of mycelium and it can happen on any flush, even if before you had good normal fruit bodies. BTW you can harvest these blobs and take them (fresh or dried).
4) Yes, Natalensis needs to start fruiting conditions earlier and requires more FAE (fresh air exchange).
It is hard to make them fruit right in the bag as Cubensis. Better to make flat mushroom cake and use plastic tub as a fruiting chamber, so that you have more volume of air and easier to maintain fruiting conditions. You can make air vents (like in a MonoTub) or just flip the lid upside down, so that we have gaps between lid and tub for natural air flow.
5) Flat mushroom cake covered with a casing layer is highly recommended for Natalensis.
Casing is a non-nutrient substrate, that promote mycelium for pinning and helps to reduce mycelium overgrowth. Usually we think the more nutrients the better. But it doesn't work for shrooms. Till mycelium has too much nutrient it will develop mycelium only and won't produce shrooms. When mycelium has a sign 'no more nutrients' it starts to form pins and fruits. Casing is exactly this sign and also a source of additional moisture and protection against contaminants. Read more: Casing
What to do in your case?
- Prepare a plastic box with a lid (20-40Qt or 20-40 liters or 2 plastic tubs 6-10 Qt each for DubTub), wipe it with 70% iso/ethyl alcohol.
- Wear gloves on your hands, wipe them with alcohol.
- Wipe fork with alcohol.
- Remove blobs and overlayed mycelium with a sterile fork and your hands.
- Crumble the block in a plastic box, don't be afraid to do this! You can find an example of this process here: How to make mushroom cake. The process for small or big mushroom cake is the same.
- So that you have a flat cake (the height should be about 2-4 inches or 5-10 cm).
- Cover the cake with casing layer (1/3 inch or ~1 cm).
How to prepare substrate for the casing layer
- peat moss (aka sphagnum) - 2 cups (Amazon)
- vermiculite - 1 cup (Amazon)
- hydrated lime (aka calcium hydroxide) - 1 tablespoon (Amazon)
- water - 1 cup
Prepare as much as you need, just follow the ratio.
In your case prepare x2 for each bag (4 cups of peat moss per each bag and add other ingredients accordingly).
Step by step process
- Fill the jar with this mix, close the lid. Put it in an instant pot, saucepan with lid or pressure cooker. Add water in a pot and bring it to a boil. For casing layer we don't need high pressure and you can use just pot with lid.
- Sterilize/pausterize the casing substrate for ~60 mins. Let it cool down to room temperature.
- Cover the cake with a thin casing layer on top (1/3 inch or ~1 cm).
- Mist the walls of the plastic tub with water (clean drinking water).
- Close the lid or flip it upside down.
- Open the tub every day to check the progress and for additional FAE.
- Mist the walls of the tub, if you find out they are dry out.
Usually in the nearest 3-7-10 days you'll see first pins
If not, then we can try to make them fruit outdoors (mushroom bed) or in a plant pot outdoors. But let's try indoor growing first.
Or you can use one bag indoors and another one for outdoor growing.
A few words about growing Natalensis outdoors
Natalensis mycelium when it's strong enough is highly resistant to contaminants and high temperatures. It makes this species great for outdoor hot season cultivation.
Natalensis withstands air temperature up to 104°F or 40°C. The optimal temperature range for fruiting is 77-86°F or 25-30°C.
- Remove mycelium blobs/overlay from the block.
- Find the right place for 'mushroom bed'. The best place -> no sunlight and wet -> in the shadows of plants/fence or greenhouse/tent for plants. Or use a plant pot, you can move it anytime and anywhere you want.
- Easiest method. Dig out the soil about 4-5 inches. Break the mushroom block and bury it in soil. Cover with soil on top - 1-2 cm or 1 inch. Don't be afraid to crumble the block.
- Another method. Prepare simple coco coir substrate (just coco coir and water; other ingredients like vermiculite, gypsum and hydrated lime are optional). Mix mushroom block with wet coco coir. Or crumble the block and mix it with wet coco coir in a plant pot. The ratio of mycelium to coco coir substrate is up to you, 1:1 or 1:2 or 1:3 or even more.
- Mist the top layer.
- Cover the bed with plastic fruit/farm box. This helps to reduce sunlight, retain moisture, create good microclimate.
- Mist the bed/pot from time to time and you'll get a few flushes in the summer and autumn season ;)
I can check the progress with you, just share pics ;)
Growing Psilocybe Natalensis is challenging, for newbie growers especially, but it worth it!
I believe we make your bags fruit.
Best regards, Shroomok
Thank you so much Shroomok, for taking the time to help me with such a detailed explanation! I am beyond grateful.
I will get the supplies for the casing layer within the next couple of days and I'll let you know how it goes. This is literally my very first grow and I still don't understand what mushrooms need when it comes to the different substrates. I was told that dung loving mushrooms should grow in manure based substrate, so this is new information for me.
The other thing that I think may have gone wrong is, the instructions for the bag tek said to use 4-5 cc of liquid culture but maybe I should have used less which would have resulted in less or no overlay... Many thanks!
Natalensis pinhead initiation after casing day by day
Day 2-3 of Natalensis fruiting period
Hi Shroomok, I just wanted to send you this obit to see what you think. I know you said pinning would start 3-10 days from initiating the casing layer which I started 3 days ago. Does this look like mycelium or co Ramos took growing on the substrate? Please see photos below. Thank you in advance!
2 days after casing
3 days after casing
Shroomok comments on Natalensis progress after casing
Hey, thanks for updates!
It's definitely Natalensis mycelium growth. Good job! So far so good ;)
Mist the walls of the tub from time to time (maybe once a day or once in 2 days, or if you see the walls are dry).
Don't mist on mycelium directly!
If possible open the tub for FAE at least 1-2 times/day.
Air vents in your tub or gaps between the top lid and the bottom box are also helpful for natural airflow and FAE.
Don’t keep your tub on the floor! 90% of all contaminants in the air are closer to the floor and spread by drafts.
Keep me updated as often as you can.
Good luck! Hope to see pins soon, fingers crossed 🤞
Thank you for the quick response. I feel so relieved!
There is one bag in the grow box which has four ventilation ports. I open the lid 3-4 times a day just for a moment and spray once a day since the moisture seems to evaporate. I will find an alternative to the floor.
Thank you again for your help and the encouragement!
Day 5-7 of Natalensis progress for both mushroom cakes
Hi again Shroomok. Just wanted to show you the progress of both tubs after casing. I made 2 separate tubs from 2 all in one bags I had.
Tub #1 - mushroom cake made from all in one bag #1 - casing layer added 7 days ago
Tub #2 - mushroom cake made from all in one bag #2 - casing layer added 5 days ago
Shroomok comments on Natalensis progress 5-7 days after casing
Thank you for updates! So far so good. Both tubs are good and healthy.
Tub #1 casing layer added 7 days ago - I like the result!
Tub #2 casing layer added 5 days ago - mycelium is more aggressive and fluffy, but don't worry.
Let me show you the example when Natalensis mushrooms grow through the fluffy mycelium that look like overlay
Here you can see pins!
Natal shrooms are coming!
What to do next?
FAE, misting as before and... patience.
After casing usually it takes 3-10 days for pinning, up to 15 days.
Hope for shroom babies soon. Share updates in the nearest 2-3 days pls.
Have a great weekend!
Awesome, thanks for the feedback! I really appreciate it. I was concerned about the 2nd tub since the mycelium is so aggressive. I wonder why? I'll send you updates in a few days. I think I saw something pop up in tub #1 so let's see. Also, the examples of the aggressive mycelium were very helpful. Enjoy your weekend!
Day 9-11 of Natalensis fruiting period
Hi Shroomok! Here are the updated photos. The #1 tray is doing very well and coming along. Not sure about #2 tray. See photos below. Thank you again!
Natalensis mushroom cake #1 - 11 days after casing and providing fruiting conditions. First shroom and pins appeared!
Natalensis mushroom cake #2 - 9 days after casing and providing fruiting conditions. Aggressive mycelium growth.
Shroomok comments on Natal updates: 9-11 days after casing
Hey! Hooray, finally we have first Natalensis shroom on the cake #1. I'm so happy!
The #1 tray is able to fruit and I see some small hyphal knots and pins ;)
Introduce FAE and misting as before.
The #2 tray - usually fluffy mycelium needs more time and more FAE. So if possible try to introduce FAE for this tray more frequently.
I'd suggest you make a spore print(s) from the #1 tray. So that you'll have your own spores for new growing attempts and save money for genetic material for the future.
🔴 Check out detailed guide here: How to make mushroom spore prints
Thank you for good news! Keep going, keep growing!
Thank you for helping get here and all of your support! I will attempt making a spore print, good idea! Thank you for all your encouragement.
Day 11-13 of Natalensis fruiting period
Hi again, just updating the pictures (see below). Thanks again!
Natalensis cake #1 - 13 days of fruiting period
Natalensis cake #2 - 11 days of fruiting period
Shroomok answers on Natal updates 11-13 days
Hello! The cake with a few mushrooms looks good.
I just can't see the pins that I saw from the photo of the previous day. Are they still there? I mean these pins (see on the photo).
When you'll see a torn veil it's time for making spore prints and harvesting. Here is a torn veil example:
Right after harvesting it's time to rehydrate (soaking/dunking) mushroom cake in cold water.
Soak the cake for 4 hours in cold clean water without any additives, you can add some ice in water to make it colder.
Usually after rehydration we get more shrooms and rich flush.
🔴 Detailed guide with examples here: Mushroom cake rehydration
Regarding the 2nd tub we have some marshmallow growth. Can be a kind of mutation. It's not a contamination, don't worry. Just some genetic issue.
Anyway, let's wait the next 3-5 days for shrooms in the central area here:
You can harvest these blobs further, dry them and take them as shrooms. Let me show you an example of such growth, so that you can compare it with your growth further.
Don't hesitate to share photos day by day and I'll check them.
Feel free to ask any questions about our next steps.
Cheers, Shroomok :)
1) The picture of tub #1 with the pinning is from a couple days ago. The area where you circled the three pins, one was harvested today. The other two pins are still there and one near the edge of the tub will be ready by tomorrow. Should I wait for the little pins to come up first before the cold water bath?
2) Tub #2, asking for clarification about the marshmallow blobs. How do I harvest the blobs? Very interesting, how does genetic mutation happen? Both tubs are from the same liquid culture... What is the best way to harvest the blob?
Thank you again!
1) Tub #1.
If pins are stalled and you don't see visible growth for the next 1-2 days you can pick these small shrooms/pins and soak the whole mushroom cake. The earlier you make 'water bath' the earlier you get next flush of better shrooms
2) Tub #2.
Let's wait for shrooms in the centre first. Maybe smth will appear in the next few days.
If not, then pick the blobs just with your hands (in sterile gloves, wipe with iso/ethyl alcohol 70%) or use sterile knife (wipe with iso/ethyl alcohol 70%).
Then also make 'water bath' for this cake.
Such blobs growth can appear even near good mushrooms. Can vary cake by cake and flush by flush. Why?
One liquid culture (in our case multiculture) can create many mushroom couples and 'families'. You never know which family(-ies) will grow on the grain/block/cake.
We have the same growth on each cake if we work with isolated culture, when we choose the only one 'family' genetic. This is possible with agar work and by agar to agar transferring 5-10 times and even more.
It's roughly explanation. I'll try to do this in a better way in a long-read post with pics/photos/schemes and share with you ;)
That would be great! Thank you again for the detailed explanation. I'll keep you posted.
Day 12-14 of Natalensis fruiting period
Hello again, Here are some updated photos from today.
Tub #1 I just want to clarify, you said to do a cold water bath, correct?
Tub #2 I see pins!
Cake #1 after harvesting 1st flush, ready for rehydration:
Natal first pins appeared in marshmallow mycelium:
Shroomok answers on Natalensis updates 12-14 days
Tub #1 - YES, cold water bath. Just use cold tap water.
If the water is not cold for your arms add some ice. Let's say 10 ice cubes per 1-2 Qt (liters) of water.
Submerge the cake in water and leave it to soak for ±4 hours.
You can do this right in the tub!
Black spots on the cake are just mushroom spores, it's okay (see the photo below).
By the way, have you made a spore print(s)? How many shrooms have you harvested? Do you have a photo of your first harvest?
Tub #2 - the first pins I've noticed in the photo below :)
Best regards, Shroomok
- Great, I'll work on the bath today.
- I don't have any photos of my first harvest, other than what I sent you because it was so sad, lol. The pictures that I sent you where one mushroom came at a time is all I have...a total of three mushrooms, lol. They do look good though. I will take photos of the second flush for sure.
- I will take a spore sprint after I get the supplies, i.e a surgical knife and baggies to store them in afterwards. I don't think I can get a still air box yet but will see.
- I'm so happy about the pins in bin #2. They're even coming up through the marshmallow. There's one more above the two you circled. I don't have high hopes for this bin so thank you for the encouragement.
Day 13-15 of Natalensis fruiting period
Good morning, here are some updated photos.
Tub #1: while trying to wash the cake, it cracked. It was too light for me to hold under the faucet.
Tub #2: some good pinning going on!
Same Natalensis mushroom cake #2, another angle
Day 14-16 of Natalensis fruiting period
Good morning, another update. Thanks again!
Natalensis mushroom cake #1 - 2 days after water bath - 2nd flush - day 16 of fruiting period. Some pins on the cake
Natalensis mushroom cake #2 - first flush - day 14 of fruiting period
Natalensis mushroom cake #2 - first flush - day 14 of fruiting period
Shroomok answers on Natalensis progress 14-16 days
Hey hey, that's an amazing result!
Thank you for your efforts and time! Good job!
I've checked all the photos and comments you shared...
Tub #1 (after soaking in water): looks good and new pins are coming. Cracked cake is not a problem for further fruiting.
Tub #2: as I said before it takes 7-15 days for pinning and some shrooms can appear in fluffy marshmallow mycelium.
As a result, we had pins on the day 13 or 14.
Making a spore print(s)
A few comments here.
You don't need special tools and supplies.
So here are what you need:
1) aluminum foil is the best to use for prints - cut rectangular pieces and wipe them with 70% iso/ethyl alcohol 70%.
2) To cut the mushroom cap you can use sharp kitchen knife, or a stationery knife, or a razor or cutter like this.
Scalpel (aka surgical knife) is optional (Amazon)
Just wipe the knife/razor with 70% iso/ethyl alcohol and cut the cap.
3) Put the mushroom cap on foil.
4) Still Air Box is not necessary, UVC lamp is not necessary as well.
5) Cover shroom caps with a glass or any plastic box for food, leave them for ~24 hours for sporulating.
Let me know if you have any questions.
One more question about bin #2. After I harvest the mushrooms, should I remove the marshmallow before soaking in cold water for the second flush?
I have several syringes of different strains of liquid culture in my fridge. Blue Meanies, Albinos, Lions Mane, Shiitake and Blue Oyster.
I have one more all in one manure grow bag left and trying to decide which one to use in it. This is very exciting! Thank you for your interest in such a newbie like myself! I will definitely try the different growing projects on your website.
Yes, remove marshmallow growth before soaking (with sterile fork or sterile hands in gloves).
If you leave it, then after soaking it will be like a slimy sponge.
Zero benefits from the marshmallow growth after soaking, but the risk of contamination increases.
Just a reminder! Don't remove the casing layer! Don't remove normal mycelium on the cake!
What to do with all in one manure bag?
The manure bag you can inoculate with Cubensis Blue Meanie (check the label, maybe you have Panaeolus Blue Meanie).
Or use it for your Cubensis albino strain (also check the exact name of strain).
You need only 1-3 ml of LC per bag for inoculation. Don't use the whole LC syringe for one bag only.
Plans for the next mushroom growing
The next mushroom growing (I mean species/strains) is up to you :)
🔷 Basic step-by-step guide is here: Mushroom Growing in 20 steps
First 7 steps are applicable almost for all mushroom species (Cubensis, Natalensis, Panaeolus, Lions Mane, Shiitake, Oysters).
The next steps are applicable for Cubensis, Natalensis, Panaeolus.
🔷 For edibles like Lions Mane, Shiitake we need to create mushroom blocks with bulk substrate based on sawdust. This is the main difference!
🔷 Shiitake growing guide is here: My first Shiitake Mushroom growing
Also applicable for Lions Mane and Oysters. However for LM we can try simpler tek ;)
🔷 How to make 100-200-1000 Liquid Culture syringes from 1 LC syringe you already have in your fridge, save money for expensive genetic and use it even for experiments and fails: Liquid Culture Guide
If you don't have a Pressure Cooker it's not a problem. You can use an instant pot, or oven, or pot with a lid. It takes more time, but it works.
Actually you can use/reuse most of the stuff you already have at home (for instance, canning jars), and grow mushrooms successfully.
Wish you good luck with the current Natalensis cultivation and waiting for updates.
Enjoy the magic of mushroom growing!
Best regards, Shroomok
Thank you for the links. I have one bag inoculated about a month ago, that I just did a break and shake a couple days ago. Will see how that goes...
I will definitely give making my own LC a try to save money.
I have a very tall stainless steel stock pot with a lid that should work.
Will keep you updated!
Day 17-19 of Natalensis fruiting period
Bin #1 looks like it might have stalled? I'm not sure...
I'm attaching photos of the removal of the marshmallow. There were quite a few pins that just never made it through...
Shroomok comments on Natalensis progress 17-19 days
Hello! How are you doing?
Bin #1. It might have stalled, but let's wait till Day 10-12 after soaking in water. I assume new mycelium and pins will appear.
Usually it takes 3-14 days for the new flush of fruiting after 'water bath'.
If there are zero signs of growth, then we can:
1) add a new casing layer again (just 0.5 cm or 1/5 inch)
2) or we can try outdoor growing. I'll provide you with the details if you're going to try growing outdoors.
Bin #2. Looks okay. The removal of marshmallow areas is also ok.
How's it going after soaking in water? Any signs of new pins?
Have you tried to make spore prints from the harvested mushrooms?
Day 22-24 of Natalensis fruiting period - updates after soaking cake in water
Hi Shroomok, Please find some updated pictures. All is going very well. I plan on taking a spore print the next flush.
Natalensis mushroom cake #1 - 2nd flush - 11 days after rehydration - 24 days of fruiting period
Natalensis mushroom cake #2 - 2nd flush - 5 days after rehydration - 22 days of fruiting period. No pins yet!
Shroomok comments on Natal progress 22-24 days
Hello! I'm glad that the tub didn't stall and produce some shrooms.
What about bin #2?
After harvesting you can make a water bath again.
You can also apply a new casing layer (1/5 inch or 0.5 cm), although it's an optional step.
Or skip the water bath and just mist hard the top layer and create water pools. Cake will absorb the water and it will be enough!
Thank you Shroomok! I think I will try the misting this time.Bin #2 - there are some pins showing already.
Day 30-32 of Natalensis fruiting period
Just wanted to send you an update. Probably the last? I think the flushes are done. Tub #2 produced four more fruits but not more than that. The biggest flush was the first flush but unfortunately many of the pins were trapped under the marshmallow and never made it to maturity.
Tub #1, I did soak one more time for a third flush and will see if anything happens. It's interesting because this tub didn't produce much at all. Not sure why.
Please find two pictures attached. I did try to make a spore print. Will see how it came out tonight...
Bonus: Just want to share some beautiful pics of Cubensis Casper's Ghost. It's first flush in a all in one bag. I think I will harvest these tonight. All the best!
Shroomok comments on Natal growing 30-32 days
If no more pins/shrooms appear (for the next 10-14 days after soaking in water), then try to bury the cake in the plant pot or garden/backyard/forest/under the fence (anywhere in the shadow of fence or trees/bushes).
Mist it well and let nature do the rest. Maybe you'll get some outdoor shrooms ;)
Your albino Ghosts 👻 are gorgeous, thanks for sharing the beauty 😍
Casper's Ghost = MakShak x APE cross = (Melmak x Shakti) x APE cross
Try to make a spore swabs/prints to save genetics for the new attempts ;)
From the moment I see in the photo you can wait for 1-2 days more and shrooms continue growing.
If you already harvested them, it's okay!
Mist the bag hard and wait for the new flush.
Thanks Shroomok! I decided to let them grow a little more and picked them last night since I'm leaving for a few days. I did mist the bag and hope to see another flush when I get back. There were a few aborts in the end, I think it happened after opening the bag so I'm not sure if that did it? But I still harvested them and dried them after reading your blog. Thank you again!
It's totally normal to have some aborts on the cake/block.
In your case they appeared in some clusters, because shrooms compete with each other and the smallest are stalled.
They are potent and safe. So don't worry.
Have a lovely day!
Awesome, thank you so much! Will send you updates when ready. I think next time I'll try growing this Cubensis strain in a monotub to give them more room or a wider bag.
P.S. Do you mind if I share your case/questions and my answers on shroomok.com?
I don't mind the use of my case study at all. You're very welcome. I'm happy because I hope it helps someone else who may find themselves in a similar situation. You helped me and now you and I can help others. It's been my pleasure to contribute! It's been so rewarding.
Thank you! Peace ❤️
I am interested and worried about your comments regarding making a spore syringe and needing to let the spores 'soak' a minimum of 24 hours in the syringe. I just tried to start a Natalensis grain inoculation from spores BUT I inoculated immediately after scraping the spores into sterilized water. I hadn't read and thought about the spores needing to 'soak.' It's my newbiest first attempt.
It's been two days since injection into the grain. Did I screw the pooch?