I became enamored of shiitake mushroom logs when Leslie and Diane brought one to me at the Chickens in the Road party this year. It wasn’t long before I got to enjoy my first mushroom harvest. I was hooked and eager to inoculate more logs! (See Growing Shiitake Mushrooms.)
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 pre-made plugs or you can buy the spawn by the bag and make your own plugs. Leslie and Diane had also given me a bag of mushroom spawn, so I was ready to make my own plugs. I just needed a tree. We cut down a red oak. Hardwood is best. Once you have your tree, cut it in logs no more than four feet long,
You want relatively fresh wood, just a few weeks from being cut. If the wood is too fresh (less than a couple weeks), it still has its anti-fungal power and may fight off the spawn. If it’s too old, it won’t have enough nutrients left in it to grow the spawn.
Leslie and Diane came out to demonstrate and let us borrow their inoculation tool.
Drill holes using a 5/16-inch drill bit deep enough to fit the plugs (a spiral pattern is pretty when they fruit).
Push the inoculation tool into the spawn to fill the tip with a plug.
This is the inoculation tool.
This is what the plugs look like.
Though you don’t normally want to deposit them in your hand. You want to shoot them into the logs! You just poke the tip into the holes in the logs and shoot it in there.
Seal each hole with melted wax. (Cheese wax is recommended.) This keeps insects or other fungi from contaminating the plug.
Leslie and Diane said, “Why is your wax red?”
I said, “Because it’s cheese wax!”
Apparently they use some kind of clear cheese wax. That is probably cheaper, I have no idea. I make cheese, so I have real red cheese wax on hand.
They inoculate large numbers of shiitake logs at once and stack them for over-wintering the first year. We just made about a dozen, using this one bag. After we cut our tree and let it “ripen” for a few weeks, we inoculated the logs on the porch. I put newspaper under them while I was sealing them with the wax. When I get my hefty helpers lined up, I’m going to move them to the “shiitake log section” out past the chicken house. The logs should stay outside all the time, in a shaded area, and have contact with the ground. They’ll fruit naturally in the spring and fall, but can be force-fruited every 8 weeks. (They are dormant over the winter.) To force-fruit, soak (submerge) the log in cold water for 24 hours, which mimics winter and sparks the log to produce, as if it’s spring.
I’ll be giving some shiitake mushroom logs as holiday gifts this year, and keeping the rest to harvest throughout the year, force-fruiting one or another.
Shiitake mushrooms all the time! I love it!
I’ve been investigating these ever since the party! And your red wax makes them look so pretty 😉
On November 16, 2010 at 6:23 am
I’ve been watching BONES and LAW AND ORDER too much. The logs look like a crime scene! Also, does the red wax turn the mushrooms pink? (lame joke)
On November 16, 2010 at 6:37 am
Seriously, you’ve about got us ready to join the shitake growing wagon here on Greensboro Daily Photo’s suburban farm!
On November 16, 2010 at 6:38 am
They will push through the wax?
On November 16, 2010 at 8:18 am
Suzanne McMinn says:
Bethie, the mushrooms will come out all over the place, actually. Even at the top of the log.
On November 16, 2010 at 8:20 am
Laughed at Greensborodailyphoto’s comment! 🙂
That’s pretty fascinating, all around. You’ve got great friends to come show you how/help you do it! 🙂
On November 16, 2010 at 8:28 am
You are the only person I know who does that. Thank you for sharing it with us. I probably will never use that information, but I love reading about it — so new and fascinating to me. (And, seeing the pictures.) How nice of your friends to give you supplies and lessons in person.
On November 16, 2010 at 9:22 am
I really want to try this!
On November 16, 2010 at 11:32 am
Mother of a ROCKSTAR says:
Suzanne, you never seem to run of out ideas. This is really cool. My children and I will have to give this a try. Let us know what happens (if you force one).
On November 16, 2010 at 12:32 pm
Thats the greatest thing since sliced bread!! I love mushrooms. Those logs are so neat!! I can think of a million recipes with mushrooms in it… :hungry: :hungry: :wave:
On November 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm
I will never make cheese, have a cow, or chickens. I won’t have a mushroom log either. BUT, I love to read all about them. Thanks.
On November 16, 2010 at 1:35 pm
Jim in Colorado says:
Love mushrooms! I could eat them with just about anything. I have never thought about growing my own. Mine are all store bought. And I know that they do not taste as good as home grown.
My wife and I have talked about all the things that you have going on. And now we are wanting to move to the country. We can do some of the things you are doing. But I’m sure that neighbors on both sides of us would have a cow if we even got us a few chickens. And the wife really would like to have a goat, a donkey, and who knows what else.
You are quite the farm lady. I love it. Wish more of us could follow in your tracks.
On November 16, 2010 at 2:55 pm
Jen R. (emeraldsunshine.org) says:
I really want to have some mushrooms a-growing around here. I’m going to have to convince my husband that it’s okay and he wants the “fungus” growing, too. 😉
On November 16, 2010 at 4:50 pm
Mushroom Hunter says:
Hi, I checked in to this and I was told to hold off until spring. I guess the spawn does not carry over well during the cold if they were late in the fall. Where did they get the tool?
On November 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
I don’t know where they got the tool.
On November 16, 2010 at 5:21 pm
I’ve got do this! It would be great to have mushrooms growing in my woods! I’ll put them beside my ramps. :snoopy: I’m wondering if your chickens will eat your mushrooms?
On November 16, 2010 at 8:49 pm
Cousin Sheryl says:
There is now fungus among us!
(Corny joke, but I couldn’t resist!)
On November 16, 2010 at 10:29 pm
Deborah R says:
I saw in our local paper that WVU Extension Services is giving a workshop on this – registation includes an innoculated log. Not sure of date, might have passed already. Interested folks can call (304) 643-2164 ext. 5. or check with your Extension office.
On November 17, 2010 at 12:21 am
Deborah R says:
Sorry, I meant to include that the workshop was in Ritchie County, WV.
On November 17, 2010 at 12:22 am
I’m excited to try this! I have to find some appropriate wood, and enlist my husband (bribeable with beer and pork chops) but he might actually be ok with this project since he adores mushrooms! Can’t wait!
On November 17, 2010 at 9:26 am
Jean Hermann says:
Where do you get the innoculant? I tried several sites on the internet and they seemed very shady. Several people have advised that much of the innoculant sold on the internet is poor quality or does not produce a thing.
On November 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm
Suzanne McMinn says:
Jean, I got mine from Leslie and Diane. I don’t know where they get it, but I know they sell it around all over the place. I can’t recommend a particular one, though.
On November 17, 2010 at 3:18 pm
The husband and I are going to do this in the Spring! We love mushrooms!!! One day I will live in the country and be able to do more things. Thanks again, Suzanne!
On November 17, 2010 at 6:43 pm
Eunice Moore says:
Check with http://www.fungi.com. We get their catalog frequently, but haven’t purchased the equipment yet. Plan to do so in the spring. They have all the material for growing mushrooms including DVDs and books. Sealing wax runs between $4.95 and $34.95 depending upon the amount you purchase. Most spawn is $14.95 for 100 plugs. They even have outdoor mushroom patches which are in a bed outdoors. Even the catalog is exciting to peruse! Happy fungi growing everyone.
On November 18, 2010 at 11:28 am
Very cool idea. I hate mushrooms however. The texture freaks me out and this made me want to throw up a little.
On November 19, 2010 at 5:27 am
Texas Rhea says:
I’m not a fan of eating mushrooms, but I LOVE taking photographs of them. LOL Weird, I know.
Anyway, this was such a cool post! I had no idea how to make your own shiitake mushrooms, and this was fascinating! Thanks for the how-to. I know have a cool gift idea for my mom, who loves to grill mushrooms! hehe
On November 21, 2010 at 10:22 am
My parents did this one year- we had shrooms for years after! It was great. They used thinner logs, about 6-8″ dia and about 4′ long. Left them to rot away on the north side of a hill, propped up on a support like a lean-to. This was a great project with fantastic results.
On November 21, 2010 at 11:29 am
I just recently found your website, and am enjoying it greatly.
we inoculated some logs last summer, and are getting our first shitakes now. in addition to the shitakes, we tried a few other types. today we found these
almost a pound of blue oyster mushrooms.
On November 21, 2010 at 7:43 pm