Growing Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake_log  Some of you may recall this conversation I had with my husband recently…

Husband: “What is this moldy baggie in the refrigerator? Can I throw it away?”

Me: “NO!!!! That is my bag of Shiitake mushroom plug spawn.”

Husband: “Huh?”

Me: “It is a bag of wood sticks that are inoculated with Shiitake mushroom spores.”

Husband: “Umm…what?”

Me: “I am going to pound them into a log, let them colonize the wood and sprout my own Shiitake mushrooms. I am keeping them in the refrigerator until I have the log ready. Plus, letting them sit a bit helps the spores multiply before I embed them into the log.”

[Pause]

Me: “Why are you looking at me that way?”

Husband: “I’m just waiting for the alien life form to sprout from your body…Who are you and what have you done with my wife?”

—-

Well, I wanted to update you on the mushroom growing project. I managed to plant those plugs!

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I bought the plugs from Fungi Perfecti in the state of Washington. You can order plugs for Shiitake, Tree oyster and others. They also have counter top mushroom kits, books and other cool information.

To grow the Shiitake mushrooms in a log, you first need a hardwood log (with some exceptions). Oak, eucalyptus, and elm are good candidates. I used mostly oak. The logs need to be from live trees and must be cut 2 weeks to 6 months before using.

First, you drill two-inch deep holes (with a 5/16th inch drill bit) that are no more than four-inches apart.

Then, you hammer in the wooden plugs with a rubber mallet.

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After plugging, the logs should be placed so that they are off the ground. They need steady moisture and low light. Then…you wait.

It takes 6-12 months for the mushrooms to colonize the wood. I’m waiting now and will keep you posted…See? No alien life forms involved!

Top photo credit.

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About the Author

Theresa Loe is the Co-Executive TV Producer and the On-Air Canning/Homesteading Expert for the national PBS gardening TV series, Growing A Greener World. She is a lifetime canner and a graduate of the Master Food Preserver Program. She studied both sustainable horticulture and professional culinary arts and she is a wrangler of chickens and two teenage children. (Not necessarily in that order.)

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