Last year Robb and I innoculated 50 logs. We plan to do about 50 or more this fall, maybe more!.
some things don't do well here in the Hollar.. but some things do,, and one of them would be mushrooms. We actually live in a temperate Rainforest ( lots of rainfall , forest canopy), so our conditions are pretty much Ideal for mushrooms. Robb suggested that I see how it goes, and if all goes well to maybe start a small scale mushroom operation.
For anyone thinking about growing them I say go for it. Although It can be labor intensive ( getting the logs can be a lot of work or money if you don't have access to down trees) bot other than that , it is a fairly easy process.
The spawn can be purchased and many different places. We purchased our from Fieldandforest.net , they have a plethora of different mushroom spawn to choose from, that will suit your climate.
After you order your spawn you will need to find logs.. For shiitake mushrooms oak logs work best, other wood can be used but you may not see the best results.. A freshly fallen tree is what you want, you do not want the logs to be fresh, but not dead. Ours are anywhere from 3'-6" in diameter and about 4 ft tall.
there are different forms of spawn .. we chose used the plugs,, they are about and inch long and maybe an eighth of an inch in diamater.
You will receive instructions with your plugs, but basically you drill holes in the logs, pound in the plugs, cover with wax ( we used beeswax), and place the logs in a shady place... depending on the water content of the log , you may need to soak before innoculating but it is not completely necessary.
If you do not have a shady spot, you can always use shade cloth to cover them! I purchased our shade cloth on ebay for about 25.00
Keep the logs at about 30% moisture at all times,, after about 6-9 months ( depending on strain) you should see your first flush of shroomage!
Shiitakes mushrooms (depending on variety) fruit in the spring and the fall. and you can Force Fruit them as well every 8 weeks. This will shorten the life of the log, but you will receive many many mushrooms from a force fruit.
How do I Force Fruit my logs??
Once the temps have reached a nice steady 60-70 degrees, you can take your log,, get a big ol THUMP on a stone or hard surface and then soak the log in ice cold ( or cold) water for about 24 hours( I use a kids swimming pool to soak mine).. This tricks the log into thinking its springtime and its time to wake up! and BOY does it WORK! once they start pinning , be sure to mist them so they don't dry out!
Picking the Shrooms:
You want to pick your shrooms when the underside of the caps are about 80% open, you do not want to wait until they are completely open.. They grow fast,, so if you check in the morning and see that they are pretty open, i would go ahead and pick them.
Use a knife to slice the mushrooms off as close to the log as possible , or gently twish and the mushrooms will make a clean break.
Keep them wet,, I do believe there is a little doo dad you can buy them measures the water content in the log,, but i just kinda guess,, and water then about every other day when its dry out.
It is recommended that you soak your logs every 2 weeks as well..
DO NOT let them dry out during the innoculation period, this is very important!
So this is a very watered down version of how to grow shiitakes, but I hope it gave you some insight and inspiration to grow your own! When you order your plugs you will recieve a pamphlet and instructions that give you all the details :)
They make a beautiful addition to your other garden goodies and are so very good for you, not to mention beautiful :)