Notes from Windward: #68


Another Approach to Growing Shitake

Kerst tries a faster path

     When I first become involved with Windward in the springtime, I started a project cultivating Shiitake mushrooms in oak logs. At that time I followed the traditional method of drilling holes through the bark and inserting plugs which had been inoculated with spawn. Paraffin wax was then applied over each hole to prevent moisture loss from the drilled holes. This is important because moisture will naturally leave through the ends of the log instead, encouraging the spread of mycelium along the entire length of the log.

     Unfortunately in the mushroom world, there is no instant gratification and I'm expecting to wait at least a year for these logs to produce mushrooms, perhaps longer due to the hot, dry summer we had up here since that sort of weather slows down mycelial growth. However, during a conversation with Cynthia, a member of our "Away Team" who lives in Portland, I learned of a method which speeds up the process of innoculating logs.

     Spring and fall being the ideal time to inoculate (high level of nutrients focused in the trunk of the tree rather than in leaves), we cut just a single oak to try out the method Cynthia suggested. We cut seven logs that were each about 2 feet long. I used a post-hole digger to create even holes (~8 inches deep) for the base of each log. Using a bagged wood chip spawn block that I started growing in May and the remaining sawdust spawn (which produced a large mushroom in Walt's refrigerator) and I put spawn at the bottom of each hole.


      Then I "planted" each log and covered it with a garbage bag, cutting a hole at the top end so only the log end is exposed, and secured it with a rubber band. I filled the rest of the hole in with dirt. The idea behind this is that the bag will maintain a humid environment while forcing any moisture loss to happen through the top end of the log. The fungi will enter at the bottom and spread rapidly up through the log.


Notes From Windward - Index - Vol. 68