How to Grow: Shiitake Mushroom Logs

Learn how to grow your own shiitake mushroom logs.

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shiitakeThere’s not much fruiting this time of year, except my logs. Let me explain. I’ve been growing mushrooms in wood chip beds for years, but last year I decided to try something different. A local mushroom grower was selling pre-inoculated shiitake logs, so I purchased some. Well, even after a dry summer and my infrequent waterings, our logs are fruiting.

Growing your own shiitake mushrooms isn’t that hard and can save you some money. Shiitake mushrooms grow on hardwood logs. Probably the easiest way to learn how to inoculate some logs is to check for local mushroom growing classes in your area. If you want to try it yourself, here’s some tips.

You’ll need to harvest 3 to 6 inch diameter logs and cut them about 40 inches long. Oak, sugar maple and hornbeam are best. Cut them now after the leaves have dropped. Then you’ll need mushroom spawn or plugs. Check on-line for sources of mushroom plugs that you’ll put into your logs and look for spawn strains adapted to our cold climate. Within 3 weeks of cutting your logs, lay them on a sawhorse and drill 5/16th diameter holes into the logs, 1 inch deep. Space the plug holes about 6 inches apart, starting 2 inches aways from the log ends. Gently tap the mushroom plugs into the holes so the plug isn’t sticking out. After inserting the plugs, seal them with a light coat of bees or cheese wax to keep the plugs moist and insects out. Stack the logs in a shady area off the ground to avoid contamination from soil fungus. Then just leave them. Come spring, water the logs a few times a week or immerse them in water for 8 hours every two weeks to keep them moist. Hopefully by next fall, you’ll have shiitake mushrooms sprouting, too.

From the Vermont Garden Journal on Vermont Public Radio.

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