North Spore Lion’s Mane Grow Kit Review: Does It Work?
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Growing mushrooms at home can be a finicky process- you need the right substrate, plenty of humidity and viable mushroom spawn. That can be hard for a beginner to get right, but that’s where a pre-made kit can be a lifesaver.
And that’s what I’m here to talk to you about today. Our family tried out a lion’s mane grow kit from North Spore- which includes all the necessary supplies and a guaranteed harvest in about 2 weeks. I’ve grown quite a few things in my garden over the years, but I’d never attempted mushrooms. To be honest, it seems like a whole different ball game!
So were we able to grow a successful crop on the first attempt? Yes we did! In this post, I’ll walk you through a complete North Spore Lion’s Mane Grow Kit review and show you exactly what we did from start to finish.
North Spore was kind enough to provide us with a kit for testing, but all opinions are mine and you’ll get to follow along with the step-by-step process for yourself. Let’s get started!
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What is North Spore?
North Spore is a company based in Maine, USA. They offer a wide array of mushroom-growing supplies for home and small-scale commercial growers. According to North Spore’s sustainability commitment, several products they offer are USDA-certified organic and non-GMO.
Some of the things they offer include:
- Mushroom growing kits
- Substrate (the material to grow the mushrooms in)
- Mushroom spawn and cultures
- Sterilizing tools
- Books and educational materials
The kit we’re testing out here is the Lion’s Mane Mushroom Spray and Grow Kit. As you’ll soon see, the kit contains everything you need to grow fresh mushrooms- no additional supplies needed. Besides the Lion’s Mane kit, North Spore also makes spray-and-grow kits for blue oyster, white oyster and pink oyster mushrooms.
How We Tested Our Lion’s Mane Mushroom Kit
Here are the conditions during our testing:
- We set the kit up in our basement- aside from a few small windows here and there, the basement lighting is primarily artificial.
- We used the kit in early fall, so we weren’t running either the air conditioner or the forced-air heat here in the Midwest.
- The basement stayed are a fairly constant mid-60 degree Fahrenheit temperature.
- The humidity is a bit on the high side at around 55%.
Lion’s Mane Spray and Grow Kit Contents
Here’s what the front of the unopened kit looks like:
On side of the box has a simple set of instructions for how to get the kit set up and started. As you can see, it’s just a few steps:
When you open the top of the kit, there’s a glass spray bottle for keeping your mushroom moist, information about the North Spore company and instructions for how to properly store your kit if you can’t use it right away.
The growing substrate and beginnings of the mushroom are under the kit’s inner box flap:
Don’t be alarmed by the white stuff on the substrate- that’s the lion’s mane mycelium (the early stages of the mushroom itself.) The fact that there’s a lot of white present shows that the mycelium is active and just waiting for the chance to burst forth into its mature, edible stage.
Since this is our first time using a mushroom growing kit, we weren’t sure if the white was supposed to be there or if the kit was contaminated with harmful mold. We contacted North Spore via email to ask, and we quickly received a response that there’s nothing to worry about. I really appreciated how quickly the company responded and gave us a reassuring, accurate answer!
You’ll notice that the substrate and mycelium are encased in plastic. This has a double purpose:
- Prevents the mycelium from growing until you’re ready
- Maintains constant moisture to keep the mycelium from drying out
Setting Up the Lion’s Mane Growing Kit
Now let’s talk about getting the kit set up and running.
The first step is to cut the box’s front panel along the dotted line. A utility knife worked great for this task (bit scissors would also get the job done):
The goal here is to access the inner plastic pouch containing the substrate and mycelium:
Next, use the knife/scissors to make two slits in the shape of an X on the inner plastic pouch:
This exposes the mycelium to the ambient air, and it also creates space for your mushroom to grow outwards.
The next step is to mist the X-shaped opening with three sprays from the misting bottle:
Most of a mushroom’s mass is water, and they need lots of moisture to develop properly. Throughout the growing process, you’ll need to give your kit three sprays three times daily.
And with that, our kit was all set up and ready to grow- it took just a few minutes.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom Grow Kit Progress
So after set-up, how did the kit actually perform? Here’s the progress over a couple of weeks.
Remember, your daily care is to mist the substrate/mycelium three times every day. According to the grow kit instructions, lion’s mane tends to slow down its growth in drier conditions, so regular spraying is critical to your success. However, while we did our best to spray the kit every day, we did miss a couple of mistings here and there.
We counted the day of opening-setting up the kit as day 1, and here’s a photo of the kit the next day, day 2:
Nothing much to see yet. In fact, the growth was pretty gradual over those first several days.
Here’s a look at how the kit looked on day 7:
We’re getting somewhere! There’s a lot more activity here and you’re seeing the actual mushroom start to develop.
Here it is a few days later- it’s definitely looking like the pictures now!
I was a little concerned that the mushroom would get too big for the small hole- should we make it bigger? No- this is actually the way North Spore designed the kit to work. The mushrooms will take the path of least resistance to grow, which means they’ll all grow from the hole with no problem.
A couple of days later, the growth was even more impressive:
My first thought when I see the mushroom is that it looks somewhat like a human brain. And that’s kind of an amazing thing, because lion’s mane mushrooms are known for their ability to boost brain health.
And here’s the final photo taken when we were ready for harvest on day 15:
And here’s a close-up photo of the mushroom’s surface. The fine, fuzzy texture is the sign that our lion’s mane mushroom is ready for harvest:
So clearly the kit worked exactly as intended. With a simple set-up and minimal daily maintenance, we had successfully grown what I consider to be a large, beautiful mushroom- even as complete beginners.
Harvesting the Lion’s Mane Mushrooms
After growing the mushroom, it was time to harvest it and enjoy the fruits of our labor.
North Spore says you can either harvest your mature mushroom with a twisting motion for individual mounds or use a knife to cut them free. We went with the knife method, and here are the mushrooms cut away from the substrate:
Now, wash your mushrooms off, making sure to get all the woody substrate rinsed away. Then prepare your mushrooms in any recipe you want.
While we found the process easy and quick, North Spore has this helpful video that shows the harvesting and cooking process in action:
Can We Get a Second Flush of Mushrooms?
North Spore guarantees their spray-and-grow kits will produce one successful flush (a mature mound of mushrooms), which we clearly achieved with our kit.
But North Spore also encourages everyone to try for a second or even a third flush from the kit, and many growers are indeed able to get at least two harvests. Just be aware that each subsequent flush will be smaller due to the mycelium being used up.
We continued to spray our harvested kit for another week, and we got a nice little second flush:
Just like North Spore said, it was definitely a smaller harvest than the first time around. But they were still delicious, and it’s a great way to get more mileage out of a single kit.
After the second flush, here’s what we had left:
Since the substrate is high-quality American hardwood, I opened up the plastic bag and dumped all the substrate and remaining mycelium into my compost bin. The glass spray bottle has a screw-off top, so it’s refillable for useful for plenty of other things.
So what ended up in the trash? I threw away the plastic bag and the box (it has a glazed finish that makes it non-recyclable in my area.)
Frequently Asked Questions about North Spore Lion’s Mane Grow Kit
My opinion of the North Spore Lion’s Mane Spray and Grow Kit is that it’s an easy, fun way to grow and harvest fresh mushrooms. Set-up takes just a couple of minutes, and the daily care is minimal. The mushrooms we harvested and cooked were outstanding, and it’s awesome to know how nutritious they are. I would definitely do this again!
If you’re looking to experiment with growing mushrooms, this grow kit is a perfect solution. And once you’re comfortable with the basics, North Spore also stocks lots of other supplies and instructions for other mushroom-growing techniques.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post on our family’s experience with North Spore’s spray-and-grow mushroom kit. If you have any other questions or thoughts to share, I’d love to hear them in the comments!