Lee and a curious calico crisscross the country in a RV, living simply and sustainably.

Want to grow your own shiitake mushrooms? Or another delectable variety?  Two members of my local Master Naturalist group have had years of practice in growing their own shiitake, portobello, blue oyster, and other varieties of mushrooms. They guided the rest of us through six simple steps:

1. During the winter season, cut 3’ sections of a healthy hardwood tree 4 to 6” in diameter. We used freshly cut White Oak and Maple.  Shiitake translates to “Oak mushroom” and grows best on Oak, but our guides have used other hardwoods.

7 Group drilling 3 x2. Using a 5/16” bit, drill 10 to 15 holes on the upper half of your log, approximately 4” apart. We purchased inexpensive  1” shiitake plugs, which are spiral-cut wooden dowels infused with mycelium. Be sure to use a variety of mushroom that will not become contaminated with local, possibly toxic spores. Check with your supplier.

2 Group drilling x

3. Drill 1/4” deeper than your plug, using a nail with a line inscribed to test the depth. For example, our holes were drilled to 1-1/4” for 1” plugs.

8 Checking depth x

4. Insert the inoculated plugs into the drilled holes, counter sinking them into the log, leaving ¼” to be filled with the melted wax.

5. Melt unused red cheese wax (the type that covers Gouda wheels), which is softer than paraffin. Stir constantly as it only takes a minute or two to melt. Using a small paint brush, paint over the plugs completely to seal in the spores.

10 Melting Wax x

13 Plugging holes 3 x

6. The finished product! Place in shady spot, slightly off the ground. A pine forest is ideal, out of direct sunlight. If there has not been any rainfall for up two weeks, soak your log in a bucket of water overnight – don’t let it dry out! It may take a year or so to produce your first harvest, then you may get a 2nd harvest each year for the next few years.

14 Finished Log

Suggestions:

Think:   Have you ever prepared your own mushroom logs?

Say:   Share your experience in the comment section.

Do:   Compare the price, quality and satisfaction with making your own logs vs. store-bought. For approximately $12, our group purchased enough shiitake plugs and cheese wax to make 20 logs with 10 plugs apiece. Several logs can be prepared and stacked cross wise on a pallet or other support for a mass harvest. Enjoy!

Comments on: "Shiitake Start-up in Six Steps" (9)

  1. Chris Curtin said:

    Nice post – You got my better side (the back of my head) XXXX Chris

  2. Great rendition of the instructions here! We sure had a good time and I can’t wait to taste our first home grown mushrooms. I’m going to put a link in from my blog to this one to help share the process.

  3. Great post Lisa. I’d love to try this, but I’ve got to figure out where to get fresh cut oak logs from healthy trees no less. Also, wondering where I might get the cheese wax? Thanks for taking the time to post this. I loved it!

    • Hey Sam. I saw the red cheese wax at the same websites where the shiitake plugs were sold. Our instructor paid about $6 for a hunk of wax that made 20+ logs. As for the hardwood tree – I am blessed to be surrounded by abundant forests, so sacrificing one tree to grow food for 20 makes sense. Let me know if you try this sometime.

    • Perhaps you can source trees being felled as part of a new construction?

  4. infreegarden said:

    Very interesting. How did it come out in the end?

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