Preparing Mushroom Growing Substrate The Ultimate Guide To CVG (Coco Coir, Vermiculite, Grain)

By Josh Shearer on 04/09/2024

DIY Mushroom Substrate: Create the Perfect CVG Mix (Coco Coir, Vermiculite, Grain). Master Mushroom Growing Now! To edit this post, navigate to the admin dashboard.


Mushroom cultivation is an increasingly popular hobby and business venture, with enthusiasts and entrepreneurs alike delving into the fascinating world of fungi. One of the most crucial aspects of mushroom cultivation is preparing the right substrate. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the preparation of a highly effective mushroom growing substrate known as CVG, which stands for Coco Coir, Vermiculite, and Grain. This substrate is renowned for its ability to support robust mushroom growth, thanks to its excellent water retention, aeration, and nutrient content.

Understanding CVG Substrate

Before diving into the preparation process, it's essential to understand what CVG substrate is and why it's so effective for mushroom cultivation. CVG combines three key components:

  1. Coco Coir: A natural fiber extracted from the outer husk of coconuts, coco coir is an eco-friendly and renewable resource. It's known for its exceptional water retention capabilities and resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, making it an ideal base for mushroom substrates.
  2. Vermiculite: This natural mineral expands when heated and is used in horticulture for aeration and moisture retention. In mushroom cultivation, vermiculite helps maintain a consistent moisture level within the substrate, which is crucial for mushroom growth.
  3. Colonized Grain: The colonized grain acts as the initial source of mycelium, kick-starting the colonization process of the CVG. Additionally the colonized grain provides a strong base for avoiding contamination during substrate colonization.

Combining these three components creates a balanced substrate that is both nutrient-rich and well-aerated, providing an ideal environment for mushroom mycelium to thrive.

Preparing CVG Substrate: Step-by-Step Guide

The preparation of CVG substrate can be broken down into several key steps. This guide is sized for a single monotub. It can easily be expanded to accommodate more as necessary. Here's a detailed guide based on the popular recipe:

Materials Needed

  • 1 Coco Coir Brick (650g)
  • 2 Quarts Vermiculite
  • 5 Quarts Colonized Grain
  • 5 Gallon Bucket for mixing and prep
  • Your Preferred Monotub
  • 5 Quarts Water
  • Gloves and mask (to minimize contam potential)

Step-by-Step Guide to Preparing CVG

  1. Bring the water to a boil. Let cool slightly
  2. Hydrating the Coco Coir: Place the coco coir brick in a large container and add 4 quarts of the hot water. Set aside the remaining water covered. Let the coco coir absorb the water and expand. Once fully hydrated, break it apart and mix it thoroughly.
  3. Adding Vermiculite: Next, add vermiculite to the hydrated coco coir. The ratio of coco coir to vermiculite should be approximately 2:1. Mix the vermiculite evenly throughout the coco coir.
  4. Place a lid on the bucket and allow to sit and cool for 30-60 minutes
  5. Thoroughly mix the ingredients.
  6. Let the mixture sit and cool completely for 2-4 hours.
  7. Prepare your monotub for inoculation. It should be sterile to prevent contamination during the colonization process.
  8. Check the mixture to assure the moisture level is at field capacity. To test, grab a handful of substrate and squeeze between your hand. You should see a drop or 2 of water come off. If there is no loose water under pressure, then add water incrementally until you have this effect.
  9. Pull 2-4 Quarts of the CVG mix out of the bucket and set aside for later.
  10. Incorporating Pre-inoculated Grain: Once the substrate is cooled to between 80-90f, it's time to add the grain spawn. The grain should be fully colonized by mycelium. Gently mix the grain into the substrate bucket, ensuring even distribution.
  11. Transferring to Monotubs: Transfer the prepared CVG substrate into your monotub. Once it is spread evenly add the remaining substrate spread evenly over the top.
  12. Incubation: Place the monotubs in an area with a stable temperature, ideally between 75-80°F. The mycelium will colonize the substrate during this phase. This process can take several weeks, depending on the mushroom species.
  13. Fruiting: Once the substrate is fully colonized, it's time to initiate the fruiting phase. This involves introducing fresh air, light, and adjusting the humidity levels. Fruiting conditions vary depending on the type of mushroom being cultivated.
  14. Harvesting: Mushrooms will start to appear and can be harvested when they reach maturity. The timing of the harvest will depend on the mushroom species.

Tips for Success

  • Sterility: Maintaining a sterile environment during preparation and inoculation is crucial to prevent contamination.
  • Moisture Content: The substrate should be moist but not wet. Excess moisture can lead to contamination and poor mycelium growth.
  • Patience is Key: Mushroom cultivation requires patience, especially during the incubation phase.
  • Record Keeping: Keep a record of your process, including ratios, temperatures, and timings, for future reference.


Preparing CVG substrate is a straightforward process that can yield excellent results in mushroom cultivation. By following these steps and maintaining a clean and controlled environment, cultivators can create a thriving habitat for a variety of mushroom species. Whether you're a hobbyist or a commercial grower, mastering the art of substrate preparation is a key step in the rewarding journey of mushroom cultivation.


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