Growing Shiitake Mushrooms


I love shiitake mushrooms, but they can be expensive–so I rarely buy them. I never thought about growing my own until Leslie and Diane, Jack’s former owners, brought me a shiitake log when they came to the party.

In case you’re new here and don’t know Jack, this is Jack.
I meant to get a picture of Jack with Leslie and Diane during the party. Somehow I managed to not do that, but I know Jack was happy to see them.

Donkeys remember people.

Back to mushrooms!

Except, wait. I have to show you this gorgeous little table that was brought to me by Don and Shelley Hutcheson, who I met through Leslie and Diane. They also gave another table away as a door prize during the party.

It’s so beautiful, I’d sleep with it, except it’s all hard and angular so that probably wouldn’t be a good idea, but I’m going to keep it on my porch forever and love on it. (You can find Don and Shelley at Twiggity Rusticks.)

Back to mushrooms! I mean it this time!

You can grow shiitake mushrooms either by purchasing a log already inoculated with the mushroom spawn, or inoculating your own. To do it yourself, first you need the shiitake mushroom mycelium, which you can buy in plugs. Cut a log no more than four feet long from a hardwood (oak is good), drill holes in the log using a 5/16-inch drill bit deep enough to fit the plugs (a spiral pattern is pretty when they fruit), and push the plugs in. Seal the plugs with melted wax. (Cheese wax is recommended.) This keeps insects or other fungi from contaminating the plug. Then set the log upright in a shady area and keep it watered. The first mushroom harvest should be in six months to a year, but that’s not all!

It’s re-usable and lasts 3-4 years! After the first fruiting, it will fruit naturally in the spring and fall, but can be force-fruited every 8 weeks. To force-fruit, soak (submerge) the log in cold water for 24 hours. This mimics winter, making the log “think” it’s time to fruit again. Mushrooms will start appearing in a few days and should be picked when the caps open.

The log stays outside all the time so it has contact with the ground. Be sure it’s shaded under a tree.

With the price of store-bought shiitake mushrooms, the cost of a log, or the plugs to inoculate your own log (cheapest deal), is low when you consider how long the log lasts and how many times you can harvest from it in both natural and force-fruitings through the year. Frugal shiitake mushrooms! (Where have they been all my life?)

I got this log on Saturday. On Wednesday, I emailed Leslie and asked her for some additional instructions and about when to pick. She said I should have already picked. Ack! Now you know. I can’t even be trusted with a mushroom log for four days. I ran right out to pick them. We set the log out near Beulah Petunia’s headquarters (aka milk stand).

Luckily for me, angels watch over fools and they looked perfect!

Look at that, I picked a shiitake mushroom! I’m so proud.

The de-nuded log.

My shiitake mushroom harvest.

If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be? it’s so fun and easy and delicious), just do a search online and you’ll find places where you can order pre-inoculated logs or plugs to inoculate your own, OR I can hook you up with Leslie and Diane. Email me at CITRcontact(at) and I’ll pass your contact info along to them. They also sell crafting gourds and elephant garlic. (I WANT SOME ELEPHANT GARLIC. Just tossing that out to the universe. I swear that works.)

It’s time now for my log to go dormant for the winter, but, oh, next year?

I will have shiitake mushrooms! In the spring, when it starts to warm up and gets a good rain, the log will fruit on its own then I can force-fruit through fall till it’s time to go dormant again. I want to try inoculating my own logs, too. More and more mushrooms. Mushrooms for everyone! I’m excited.


  1. Nancy in Iowa says:

    Congratulations on adding shitake mushrooms to your repertoire! And I love that odd little twiggy table. Perfect for your porch and rockers!

  2. Julie says:

    First, I love the picture of Jack! The mushroom log is not only practical and yielding, it’s lovely. That is really pretty, and you make it sound so easy to do.

  3. Blessings says:

    I never knew about the Shitake Mushroom Log ~~How cool Is That~~ Way Cool I say!
    The table you were given is awesome as well!

  4. lauren says:

    Wow that is so neat!!

  5. CATRAY44 says:

    Just when I think there is nothing else to do, along comes Suzanne! :shimmy:

  6. judydee says:

    I’ve seen the logs advertised in catalogues, but was always skeptical about how well they would work. Now I want to try. Wonder if it’s too late in the mid-south for this year?

  7. Angela says:


    That is incredible! I love it! I wonder if the deer would try to eat them? They eat everything else around here! I think it would be good to put one where I planted my ramps in the spring. I wonder if the mushrooms and ramps would taste good together!? :hungry:

    I have a few pictures of your goats that I took at the party here.

    Angela :wave:

  8. Angela P says:

    :clover: Jack is soo cute. Now back to the mushrooms….LOL! I bought a kit for the shittakes, do you think I could force them through the winter in my basement?? Placing the innoc. log in a tub/container of dirt??? Maybe in the furnace room where its warm but dark?? Its already getting cold here in MI, and it would be way cool to have fresh mushrooms throughout the year…..Any thoughts????Or do I get to be the experiment???

  9. wvhomecanner says:

    WOW they REALLY grew in just a few days! Impressive!

  10. momma-leigh says:

    I got one of these back in May, actually 2! I am not sure if they have told you or if someone here already did but dont “pick” them cut them off the log. You can accidentally pull the plug out of you pick. I dried all of mine you do that by putting them in a paper bag for about 3 days in the fridge then put in a nice jar with a lid on your counter they last a long time!If you want them to make more now, soak them in water for about 24 hours and sit back out they will flourish once again. The caps will be smaller but I think they taste better.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      momma-leigh, thanks for the tips! (And I did use a knife–see in the pic with the harvest. I guess that sounded confusing because I said picked. Thanks for helping me make that more clear, I don’t want people to accidentally pull out the plugs!)

  11. momma-leigh says:

    Oh yeah and after they are dried just soak them in water for about 30 mins before you cook with them. They go right back to where they were. Now I just need to find some cow patties to grow button mushrooms in my crawl space and I will be set!

  12. Nikki says:

    Yum my husband is interested in doing that ever since reading this article!!

  13. Imperious Fig says:

    We grow shiitake mushrooms to sell at the farmer’s market. They can be quite fickle sometimes. The deer have “munched” them in the past but evidently didn’t like them because it only happened the first fruiting. However, slugs do like the mushrooms so when we get a slug problem we put a ring of DE around the base of the log. (This happens more with the first logs my husband used which were WAY too large in diameter.) Did you know if you sun dry shiitake mushrooms with the gills facing up they absorb Vitamin D from the sunlight? (They are a source of Vitamin D anyway too!)

  14. texwisgirl says:

    More Jack, please! πŸ™‚ Honestly the mushrooms look gorgeous! I personally hate mushrooms and pick them out of any sauce I see ’em in, but they’re beautiful anyway!

  15. Claudia says:

    This is way cool, I have always wanted to grow mushrooms and elephant garlic too!

  16. Mary Dunton says:

    :sun: Yum! What a nice gift! My mom gave me one years ago, and it was very cool. I should get some, as much as I like them. Hope all is well! πŸ™‚ :shroom:

  17. Mim says:

    I know my grandson was in awe when he saw your mushroom log at the Farm Party…might have to add that to his “want” list along with couple goats, donkeys and especially a cow.. tractor…tire swing…wood pile to climb on :pawprint:

  18. Susan says:

    :cowsleep: What an intriguing idea! Who wooda thunk?
    These taste so good in everything.

  19. Barbee' says:

    I love Jack (and Poky), too! Very interesting post. That looks like a lot of mushrooms… what do you do with them? Do I sense mushroom recipes in the near future? That nice little table is just perfect for your porch!

  20. Toni says:

    Wow! I had no idea you could grow these yourself. Gotta get on board with this as my husband loves shitakes!

    Thanks for sharing~

  21. Nancy says:

    Lawd girl, you sure know how to start trouble! Now I’m going to have to go grow some shrooms! lol Life is never boring with you around giving me new ideas!

  22. Kristen E says:

    I’ve been looking at home-grown mushrooms for a while now, but since we’re still renting our house, I don’t think the landlord would like having mushroomy logs all over the yard! Hopefully we’ll be buying a place soon, and then I can have lots of fun!

  23. Patrice says:

    I’m having mushroom cravings!

  24. Ramona says:

    I thought growing mushrooms would be a lot harder than that. I might have to give it a whirl.

  25. Brenda H. says:

    How ironic this post is. I was just reading in Mother Earth News Issue #241 an article on growing mushrooms. It shows the plugs and different varieties of mushrooms.

  26. heidiannie says:

    I used to pick wild morrel mushrooms in the woods, but my family sold the woods to a developer and I hadn’t even thought about getting a log implanted and grow mushrooms for myself.
    GreaT idea!

  27. SuseM says:

    YUM! :hungry: I want a mushroom log or logs!!!! :snoopy: :snoopy: Very cool! Thanks again, Suzanne. Another thing I want to try!

  28. skippymom says:

    Jack seriously needs to come live with me. I am not kidding. I need Jack. πŸ™‚ He is so dang cute.

    You crack me up about the mushrooms – but nicely done! And what wonderful friends to bring you something so special.

    I too love that twiggity table. It is almost as cute as my boyfriend. Jack. πŸ˜‰

  29. Whaledancer says:

    So what are your plans for that lovely mess o’ mushrooms you picked?

  30. YayaOrchid says:

    I would love to try that Suzanne, but I worry about our very HOT south Texas weather. Wonder if it would work here, since our Winters are VERY mild. Great post!

  31. Rachel says:

    I love this blog. Not a week(sometimes day!) goes by where my horizons aren’t expanded. I love the information that you pass on to your readers. A mushroom log?! Who knew? Not me, that’s for sure! But, now this suburbanite knows the secret to my very own shitake mushrooms. Thanks again Suzanne! πŸ™‚

  32. Drucillajoy says:

    Oh, you have no idea what chaos my house is in! Due partially to finding you last February….I have my canning sitting here & there & various fruits & vegetables waiting for attention…corncobs in my freezer waiting to make jelly…a big bag full of carefully dried corn husks to make a wreath…a drawer full of empty TP rolls for making little plant pots…a set of weights laying on my garage floor because I want to make a cheese press…various eqipment & books bought to make cheese(the 1 attempt was a disaster)…not to mention that I’m already a wine maker, soap maker, sew-er, cook, knitter, gardener, beekeeper & chief groundskeeper here…Oh & I work away from home full time too ~ I LOVE it all & wouldn’t have it any other way….Now I have to have a mushroom log too!!!
    Thank you so much for all you do to inspire me…(note to self: gotta try to make one of those marvelous little tables too…I love that!!!) (:

  33. ~Andrea~ says:

    This is very cool! I want a mushroom log!

  34. Sheila says:

    Ok.. I’m in. I want to try this mushroom log thingie. I’m the local guinea pig… if it works I think my friends will try this too! Thanks for all your wonderful ideas.

  35. Cindy H. says:

    I love love LOVE mushrooms! And yes, shitakes are so expensive! Gonna try doing this! Thanks for the info!

  36. David says:

    Interesting that this is the topic today – I was gifted a few from some friends yesterday. They are growing on a semi-commercial scale.

  37. AA says:

    Okay, now that is cool. Don’t know how I missed seeing the log when I was there.

  38. princessvanessa says:

    I hope you have the shitake log in a place where your male dogs won’t be be “helping you” to keep it “watered”….eeewwwwww. lol

  39. Runningtrails says:

    Wow! That is abslutely TOO COOL!! I love it! That’s one big harvest of mushrooms you’ve got there. Just stunning! I love mushrooms.

    We grow our own shaggy mane mushrooms but just naturally and they are only here for about one month per year.

    You can grow your own elephant garlic, you know. Mid october is the time to plant it. I’m just sayin’…

    Gourds can be grown at home too πŸ™‚

  40. TheAL says:

    Shiitake mushrooms are my favorite. This is great! I wish I could grow them in the city. Jack is just about the cutest donkey I’ve ever seen and he looks so happy!

  41. wkf says:

    I threw out in the universe that I wanted some guinneas. Stood on my back porch and said “I wish we had some guinneas….” and a month later two stray guinneas showed up. They are a pair (Tony and Carmilla)and they have set up housekeeping. Carmilla is setting on 13 eggs. I love the Universe!!!!

    Are you going to dehydrate your mushrooms? Would love your findings

  42. lavenderblue says:

    Not to long ago, I looked at my front yard, under my windows where nothing will grow and said “I’m gonna get some mushroom logs to set out there.” Too cold now but maybe next spring.

    That is if we’re still here ’cause I’m gonna run out my back door right now and yell “I wanna farm!” to the Universe and see if it’ll answer me. Either that or we won’t be here ’cause the neighbors will have finally run the crazy lady out of town on a rail. :shocked:

  43. Rechelle says:

    Okay – that is neat, but the combination of words here – ‘forced fruiting’ and ‘mushroom log’ is kind of making me feel weird.

  44. sondra says:

    I love reading your blog! (I’m catching up right now!) I get my farm fix and learn so much! Thank You!

  45. ~Melissa says:

    OK, I live in Trinidad (Caribbean) and not sure if this would work but I will try! Dang it! If I make a corner of my green house ‘dark-ish’ and ensure it is moist ….lets see what happens.
    Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  46. Katie says:

    okay, this is the second time this week that a google search has led me to your blog! 1st about cheese, and now about mushrooms! my in-laws have grown shiitakes for years and my husband and I have recently gotten in on the action. we have several logs and therefore a BUNCH of mushrooms, even after giving a bunch away! they are delicious. this post has struck me with an idea: mushroom logs as gifts. what a great idea! the logs have been force fruited several times with success, but we are in Alabama (I assume the warm weather helps?)

  47. dorothymc1956 says:

    I love Shitake mushrooms….and we started 100 plugs this year in 4 logs. Can’t wait to start collecting them!!! Thought we would try it and see what happens….has anyone tried raising them in straw bales or sawdust? Read that you could do it that way.

  48. muskingumgirl says:

    We just inoculated 5 white oak logs last evenin’ … just the two of us in the garage, here in the #riverhood … with spawns that arrived from Hardscrabble Enterprises, Franklin, WV. Built a “plugging” tool out of a nail, a pen, and a sharpie marker lid. Um, yeah. Grandpa Merle always said it takes 2 things to do any job right – the right tools and enough patience. Since we had neither, and
    since this is the first attempt – we’ll just have to see how they turn out! With enough luck, some that fell through the cracks in the wooden garage floor will find themselves a home under there.

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