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)yahoo.com 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.