Thursday, March 29, 2012

Planting Shiitake Mushrooms

 This is what I've been hinting at. We are making our first attempt at growing Shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms, also referred to as "medicinal mushrooms", are native to Japan, China and Korea and have been cultivated for over 1,000 years. Recently they have begun to gain popularity in the U.S.
They are a chewy, flavorful fungi and findings indicate that they contain properties that boost the body's immune system and lower cholesterol levels.  They are an excellent source of iron and have high levels of Vitamin B. They are high in dietary fiber and contain six minerals: manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, copper and zinc.

Sauteing for 7 minutes brings out their wonderful flavor and retains their nutritional properties.

I have wanted to grow mushrooms for years but had never quite gotten around to it until I was inspired by my friend and neighbor Duke. Not only did he instruct and encourage us, he also presented us with a gift of Shiitake spore to plant!

Here's how to grow them:
 * Shiitake grow on hard wood, so you need to obtain fresh cut logs. (we used oak, but you can also use chestnut, beech, alder,cottonwood...)
 * The best time to cut your trees is in the winter when the tree is dormant and has the most stored carbohydrates
 * Ideally logs should be unmarred with a diameter of 3-6 inches and a length of 3-5 feet

We found our logs already cut and some were slightly damaged. (Use whatcha got)  We then soaked the wood to ensure they would have enough moisture.

 * Stack your hard wood in a shady well-ventilated area.
 * There are several ways to arrange your logs. We used the X pattern. Duke stacks his criss-crossed in a square.

* Notice the logs are raised off the ground. This keeps insects and termites from damaging your growing medium.

* Next you need to obtain your mushroom spawn. It can be purchased either in a sawdust base or in dowel-like plugs. We are using the sawdust based mycelium - though I think the dowels would be easier.

 * Drill 3/8 inch holes in the logs 1 1/4 inches deep. Space the holes 10 inches apart in rows 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 inches apart.

 * Now you'll begin to innoculate the logs. That means you'll be placing the mushroom spawn into the holes so that the mushrooms can grow through the wood. Be careful not to let the spawn dry out. We pinched pieces of the sawdust medium and pushed it into the holes to fill.

* Wax is then used to seal the holes.

* The first "fruiting" will begin in 6 -18 months and can continue for 4-7 years.
* It is important that the logs remain moist and don't dry out. Duke soaks his logs in a trough periodically. We'll probably use a water hose or mister.

I'll let you know how it goes.


  1. where so you buy the spawn to do the mushrooms, and how expensive is it? sounds like a fun project, with a bit of maintenance to keep it going.May try this.....also have put some thought into trying to start a bee box, I know BOB is good with bee information. Not quite ready to get started on the bees , but am considering it.

  2. Would keeping the logs in a dark place help keep them moist? Maybe in a dark shed or even a cave, if you can find one. Or would that breed other bacteria? Sounds great, very interested in purchasing some. Robin Bills, your neighbor.

    1. Keeping the logs out of direct sunlight will slow evaporation and allow the moisture level to stay higher and more consistent. It will not breed bacteria. A micro-mister or consistent watering will achieve the same effect of maintaining moisture level in the logs. Direct sunlight is never suggested because it varies the moisture percentage.

  3. G-d is amazing! :) Wow!