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How to build an incubator for mushrooms

Updated February 21, 2017

If you have dreams of growing your own mushrooms, you may feel overwhelmed by the precision required for successful growing. The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot of money or effort to cultivate your own mushrooms. One key tool in the process is a mushroom incubator to ensure that your mushroom colonies remain at the best temperature for growing. Not only can an incubator speed the growth of mushroom colonies, but it can reduce the appearance of contaminants that can negatively affect growth. Building an incubator is also an inexpensive and easy-to-make project.

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Gather two plastic boxes or two foam coolers large enough to contain your inoculated mushroom jars. Choose two boxes or coolers of the same size.

Place a fully submersible aquarium heater in the bottom centre of the first plastic box or cooler. Secure the heater with waterproof tape.

Place four or more spacers such as small glass jars or bricks in the bottom of the first box or cooler. Arrange them at an equal distance from each other; they will be used to support the second box and prevent the heater from touching the plastic or foam, so choose spacers tall enough to hold the second box out of reach of the heater.

Pour warm tap water into a large pot or other container. Place a thermometer in the water to monitor the temperature. Pour the water into the bottom of the first box or cooler when you have achieved a temperature that reaches 27 degrees. Submerge the heater entirely. Follow the directions on the aquarium heater and adjust the thermostat so that the heater shuts off when the temperature reaches 27 degrees.

Place the second box inside the first one, setting it atop the spacers. Ensure that once the second box is secure, the water level rises so that it reaches 2/3 of the first box's height. Add or remove water if necessary.

Place your inoculated mushroom jars in the second box. Place a towel, blanket, or cooler lid over top of the jars so that they stay warm and light does not reach them.

Monitor the water temperature and level. Adjust your heater's thermostat as necessary to ensure that the temperature stays at, but does not exceed, 27 degrees. Add water so that the level remains at 2/3 the first box's height. Avoid allowing the heater to remain on when not submerged, as doing so can ruin your heater and the box or cooler.

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Things You'll Need

  • Inoculated mushroom jars
  • 2 plastic boxes or polystyrene foam coolers
  • Fully submersible aquarium heater
  • Waterproof tape
  • 4 or more small glass jars or bricks
  • Water
  • Large pot or bowl
  • Thermometer
  • Towel, blanket or cooler lid

About the Author

Megan Martin has more than 10 years of experience writing for trade publications and corporate newsletters as well as literary journals. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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