Do you have interest in growing shiitake mushrooms? Discover some easy ways you can do it
Shiitakes are the second most cultivated mushrooms in the world and the primary mushroom consumed in Asia. Today I’m talking about the processes used for growing shiitake mushrooms.
The first method for growing shiitake mushrooms involves supplemented sawdust. You can get a clear glimpse of this process in the video below.
The supplemented sawdust blocks fruit mushrooms directly from it. In the video you can see fruited bodies that are ready to pick. The shiitakes that are ready to pick have The gills are full and the cap margin is rolled under. I like to say that shiitakes are ready to pick once the cap’s edge curls like a human ear.
The supplemented blocks are created with a mixture of sawdust and wheat bran. In the video you can see the brown of the sawdust. The white is the mycelium of the shiitake mushroom. At the beginning you have a loose block of sawdust. It is then inoculated with shiitake mycelium and about three months later it is ready to fruit. This is the most-common way that shiitakes are grown commercially.
Other terms for this supplemented block growing process may include synthetic logs or shiitake grow kits. When you buy a shiitake grow kit, you receive a mass of sawdust that is held together by the shiitake mycelium. The mushrooms pop out all of the block.
Growing shiitake mushrooms in your backyard
Growing shiitake mushrooms on logs is a great way to do it for yourself at home.
We begin with a natural log. To prepare the log you drill holes in it going all the way up. You then put the mycelium into the log. The log in the video is about three feet long and once it is filled with the shiitake mycelium it is considered to be a full shiitake organism. The mycelium is connected through the entire log and can fruit mushrooms all throughout it.
Log cultivation is best done on hardwood logs like oak, sugar maple, and beech. It is best to select logs that are between 3-8 inches for this method of cultivation. 1 inch deep holes are drilled every 6 inches and shiitake plug spawn is tapped into the holes with a hammer. The log is rotated 2 inches and holes are again drilled every 6 inches. It is best to off set the holes so in the end the drilling makes a diamond pattern. Every hole is filled with shiitake plug spawn and then waxed over. The wax ensures the mycelium will not dry out, and that no other fungi will get into the log. This is the most common answer to the question of how to grow shiitake mushrooms at home.
June through October is the prime time for fruiting shiitakes on natural logs in the northeast.
Shiitake mushroom logs are great for your home garden. It’s simple and you do not need much equipment. The best part is that shiitake logs can help you produce a lot of mushrooms. For instance, if you have 20 logs, that should be enough to supply you with shiitake mushrooms all summer long.
Bonus: You can also try growing shiitake mushrooms on totems
Totems provide a fun and simple way of growing shiitakes. What you do is take a one-foot section of a log and put spawn at the bottom. Then you take another one-foot log section, put spawn between the two, and attached them with some nails. At the top you put another lawyer of spawn and a two-inch disk of wood to cap off the totem. Be sure to also secure that piece with nails as well.
During incubation, after the first two months, we keep a paper bag over the top so the mycelium has a chance to grow over the logs. We allow the totems to stay in place and rest; we do not shock them with water, but they do get wet when it rains naturally.
Totem growing is the quickest method to try outside. You don’t have to drill as many holes or close them up as you would with the log cultivation. It is another popular method for growing shiitake mushrooms that is often done outside. However, you could also use totems indoors if you are growing commercially and have the space.
If you are growing mushrooms indoors but not doing it commercially and want another method you can try our mushroom growing kit. If you want to go beyond shiitakes, try out any of the mushroom growing kits we offer, which include oyster mushrooms, lion’s mane mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, and more.
Want to start growing your own shiitakes at home? Check out our shiitake mushrooms plug spawn for log inoculation; Our supplemented sawdust shiitake spawn for a variety of growing; And our shiitake mushroom grow kits.