Part 1 : Unit 7 : Understanding Sterile Workflows
The first few steps of mushroom cultivation require very clean conditions, as close to sterile as possible. This is to ensure that spores and mycelium are allowed to grow in a competition free environment, with no other rogue fungi, bacteria or other contaminants. While a completely sterile environment is hard to achieve, you can reach almost sterile conditions with the help of a Still Air Box, and a good understanding of sterile workflows.
In this module we will discuss the procedures for selecting a good workspace and keeping it clean and ready for cultivation work. We will also discuss how to prepare and work your Still Air Box to achieve close-to-sterile conditions. Rinse up, scrub down and grab a spray bottle, we’re almost ready!
The video markers above 👆🏼correspond to the the various Steps in this Unit. Click on them to skip to a Step.
Now that everything is clean and ready, you’re ready to start clean work inside your Still Air Box. Place your hands in the SAB, and spray your gloves with 70% alcohol. Now spray the air in the SAB with Alcohol in order to bring down any contaminants in the air, wait for a few seconds, and using minimal movements, complete the task at hand – whether it’s scraping spores into agar or pouring out Dishes made out of plastic or glass which allow for sterilization and storage of nutrient agar. Mycelium is then grown in these dishes.. During this time, you need to be very aware of every movement you make. Did you take your hands out of the SAB to scratch your nose? Contamination! You need to re-sanitize your hands. Did you wipe some sweat off your forehead? Contamination! You need to re-sanitize your hands. Every movement that you make needs to be calculated from the perspective of avoiding contamination. The more you pre-plan and predict the actions you’ll need to take, the smoother and more sterile your work will be.
Every so often during your work in the SAB, it’s not a bad idea to re-mist the air in the SAB enclosure with water or alcohol to help bring any airborne particles down. Re-sanitizing your hands inside the SAB as you touch various items or between operations is also a good habit to pick up. Remember that a SAB works by having the air inside it fairly clean and still, and thus less contact with contaminants will be made. As such, avoid sudden movements, or any actions inside the SAB that may draw air in or out of the SAB.
Admittedly, this strict mindset makes the first few times of using a SAB a bit stressful, however you soon get the hang of it and it becomes second nature. Today, I find SAB work to be very meditative and relaxing. I like putting on my headphones and listening to music while doing all my clean work. To see some Still Air Box action, head on to the “Germinating Mushroom Spores in Agar” section.
Next Unit: You’ve finished all your preparations for the grow! You can now head on to the mushroom cultivation section and experience the lifecycle of a speck in the kingdom fungi. 🍄❤️