How to Grow Shiitake and Other Mushrooms on Logs
By Arlene Wright-Correll, Food Historian
Many years ago Carl and I took a weekend trip and learned how to grow Shiitake Mushrooms on logs. We became interested in growing mushrooms because gourmet Mushrooms have high medicinal values and growing them on logs produced a high yield. We also investigated this because mushroom growing is both a science and an art form.
The method of growing mushrooms was that one used mushroom plugs that are fitted into holes drilled in the logs. The plugs are called fruit bodies and the Shiitake Mushrooms were medium sized, very constant and a lovely, tasty brown typical shiitake.
The best logs to use for growing Shiitake mushrooms are oak, chinkapin; tanoak, hornbeams, alder, aspen, poplar, cottonwood, beech, birch, chestnut, hickory, maple, sweetgum, tupelo, willow and they only need to be about 2 feet long.
The temperature needed to grow Shiitake Mushrooms is between mid 50-75 degrees F. The temperature is called the “fruiting time”. The growing method was simple and the cost of the plugs were very inexpensive at that time and still are even with inflation the costs average about $14.00 for 100 plugs to $45.00 for 1000 plugs for just about any type of mushroom plug.
We learned we could also grow Oyster Mushrooms the same way only the best logs to use for these plugs are oak, beech, hornbeam, alder, poplar or birch and the fruiting temperature is low 50 to 70 degrees F.
Maitake Mushroom plugs grow well on oak, poplar, beech, elm, alder, and willow logs with the fruiting at a temperature of low 55 to 60 degrees F.
Lions Mane Mushroom plugs grow well on oak, maple, beech and elm logs with the fruiting at a temperature of mid 50 to 75 degrees F.
We learned that Swordbelt Mushrooms were as easy to grow as Oyster Mushrooms and in the dinner tasting we discovered they tasted like bacon! These plugs grow well on alder, poplar, oak, cottonwood and willow logs. They also grow on straw with the fruiting at a temperature of mid 50 to 65 degrees F.
Mushrooms don't need sunshine to grow and thrive. Some of the earliest commercial mushroom farms were actually set up in caves in
Along life’s way we discovered one could even grow mushrooms in one’s garden by digging a trench row about 8 “ deep and 12 “ wide, wetting the bed, filling it with cardboard, laying a layer of straw inside, and waiting one week watering as necessary to keep the underside of the mulch layer moist. Then place some straw into the cardboard. Next place some spent mushroom blocks inside with 6-12 “between each block. Fill gap with straw. This time is to allow the fungus to get a head start and for the cardboard to soften. Now fill the rest of the depth to ground level with more straw. Finish by folding over the cardboard or capping with more straw. Finally add a layer of top soil and tidy up your bed. Water the bed and wait one week watering as necessary to keep the underside of the mulch layer moist. This allows the fungus to get a head start and for the
cardboard to soften. You can also grow other things in this area while the mushroom spore is fruiting simply by digging a hole down in the dirt and straw and planting your seeds.