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my friend's first good casing ever just got contaminated. this is very disheartening...he's been trying for a very long time now and this was his most promising attempt ever. However, he is not going to give up and wants to see if he can get a few pointers to steer him right in the future.
first off he had made a casing using potting soil As a casing layer and verm on the bottom. he knows potting soil isn't a very good casing layer as it is very prone to contam (something that people on this board and much experience has taught him). furthermore, he didn't sterilize it before he used it. however, it had been one week, yesterday, since he began to initiate pinning. he had made the casing 5-6 days prior to this. because of this long time period, it seems unlikely that the contamination was present before making the casing.
When he began to initiate pinning he placed the tray into a larger, plastic tray (used for storing clothes and such) with a lid that would fasten down with a little clasp on each side. this remained closed except during fanning/misting times. When he would fan (approximately 4-6 times a day) he would spray the air with lysol And wait 10-20 seconds for air to settle and then pop open the lid. he would aim a fan inside the tray (on low speed) and leave it there for 5-10 seconds, maybe a little more. sometimes during this he would also mist the air above the tray with tap (or sometimes bottled spring) water.
The tray had established a very nice pins set - literally hundreds of primordia and about 25-35 actual small mushrooms. everything seemed to be going great And he looked forward to his first harvest ever in a few days...
until this morning. he looked into the tray and lo and behold - the green demon. now may be a good time to bring up that another tray he had made at the same time as this was stricken with trich only a few days after setting it up for pinning. both these trays were together in one of the larger trays i mentioned earlier, but immediately upon noticing the contam he moved the healthy one to a new, freshly cleaned tray. this was nearly a week ago so the idea of cross-contamination isn't too feasible. also, this contam looked a bit different than the previous one. the former tray had grown some white mold that didn't look quite right. he kept a careful eye on it and within a matter of hours it turned green. however, with this last casing the contAmination was deffinately different. it looked almost like cobweb mold except it was clearly green. it spread out across the casing layer in thin strands and never seemed to be very thick and must have grown very fast. this morning it seemed to have Already covered a good portion of the casing layer, and something like this would have never gone unnoticed for too long.
which really brings me to my questions. first of all, can anyone see where there is something he is obviously doing wrong that could have caused such an established casing to become contaminated like this? everything seemed fine and healthy until suddenly it broke out in contam. being that the contam was thinly spread across the surface, his guess is that it was brought in from the air (or himself) and settled onto the casing layer. does anyone know an estimate on how long past the initial time of infection it takes for contamination to show itself as mold? In the past he used to screw around with his casings and was able to undesrtand why they had become contaminated, but this time around he really exercised as much cleanliness as he could. being that the tray was inside of another tray, he assumed this would protect it A bit from the outside air. he lives in a college dorm room, and as can be guessed, it's not as clean as a room can be...however it's not overly messy either and it's really hard for him to figure out just why he can't seem to get this right. He normally (but to be honest, not always) washes his hands before fanning, And if he fans as soon as he wakes up in the morning he is often still wearing the same clothes from the day before. other than that he really cant think of any other ways in which everything wasn't as clean as could be. if the contamination was entered through his body being unclean, could contam show up suddenly, within hours, or would it take a few days for spores to germinate and whatnot? could the contam have started from something such as the casing layer being too moist?
any input would really be helpful. he has been trying to do this, on and off, for a couple years now, to almost no avail. each attempt brings him considerably closer and hopefully, with a few pointers from the more experienced, he will be able to be a successful cultivator one day.
Quote: being that the contam was thinly spread across the surface, his guess is that it was brought in from the air (or himself) and settled onto the casing layer. does anyone know an estimate on how long past the initial time of infection it takes for contamination to show itself as mold?
You're asuming things right, at least it's a possibility. Look, i know sometimes we try to figure out what went wrong but in your case i wouldn't think too much about it and start all over with increased sterility precautions. Clean your room, clean you growing area or/and choose a more apropriate one, use tested&sterilized substrates and material, that should do it.
thanks a lot for the feedback. i kind of freaked out when i lost this casing because i've been trying for quite a long time to get things right. to be honest, the grow room could use a bit of cleaning...i guess, like you said, i've just got to up the sterility and precautions. there's always next time