Something new that will be happening at the student farm will be the production of shiitake mushrooms. Rob Jones from Woodfruit came to the selected topics class the other week to talk about mushroom production and edible mushrooms. For those who have never inoculated mushroom logs, turns out it is a quick and simple process, as long as you’ve got the proper tools and equipment. Students inoculated about ten logs for the student farm to grow.
The best logs for growing mushrooms on is oaks and sweet gum trees. These are what the shittake prefer to grow from the most. The diameter of the log should be around 3-8 inches and the length about 36-40 inches. Choose healthy trees with no insect damage or disesases on them to avoid contamination and low production. Trees that have a large sapwood and cambium areas will produce the best mushrooms. That is the part of the tree where the mushrooms get their main source of nutrients from.
When inoculating the best tool for drilling the holes is an angle grinder with a drill bit on the end. It has a much higher and more powerful speed than a regular drill, which is real handy when inoculating large quantities of logs. Holes should be drilled 1 inch deep and 1-2 inches apart, all the way around the log. After holes are drilled, they should be filled with spawn. Spawn is the mushroom culture that is mixed in with sawdust or grains and other nutrients. The spawn should be filled up the the top of the hole, so that the spawn level is even with the log.
Inoculated holes should then be covered over with either bees wax or cheese wax. The wax should be heated up, then pasted over the holes so that the hole is completely covered. Open knots on the log should also be waxed over to prevent possible contamination from entering.
Once logs have been inoculated and waxed, logs should be kept in a shady place with a temperature of 60-80 degrees F, and with a humidity of 80-85 percent. Logs should be labeled with the inoculation date and the strain of the spawn used.
After logs have been soaked properly, mushrooms should began producing in about 1-2 weeks. Mushrooms will be reasdy for harvest when the caps edges are still in-rolled and the gill area has about 80 percent showing. To harvest the mushrooms, grab the mushroom at its base of the stem and twist it off the log. Shittake mushroos will produce for several years until the logs are almost fully decayed.
Recommended books on mushrooms:
– Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms. By: Paul Stamet
-Mushroom Cultivator. By: Paul Stamet
-Mycelium Running. By: Paul Stamet
-The Edible Wild Mushrooms of North America, Audubon Guide to Mushrooms