Growing mushrooms on logs is a fun, easy, and inexpensive way to start growing your own mushrooms.
Logs produce mushrooms in much the same way that a stump does--by creating the right growing conditions indoors for the mycelium to grow into mushroom fruitbodies. You can think of logs - whether living or dead - as portable, self-contained mushroom farms. The log itself has no role in supplying nutrients to the mushrooms. It's the mycelium, the mass of threadlike cells in the log that does all the work, and it draws all its food from its immediate environment.
Most mushrooms will take 1 to 2 years after the logs are inoculated before they start producing their first harvest.
However, you should be able to harvest mushrooms off the same log for 6 or 7 years once they start producing.
Benefits of Growing Mushrooms on Logs
There are many benefits of growing mushrooms on logs. Some of them include:
- Mushroom cultivation has an extremely low start-up cost when compared to traditional farming. There is simply no need for land or labour costs like in crop farming.
- Growing mushrooms on logs allow you to produce food in all weather conditions and in locations that may not be suitable or viable for traditional crop growing.
- Mushrooms cultivated on logs can easily be stored and harvested later when needed.
- The process of mushroom cultivation is extremely simple and requires just a lot of patience to get started. The log cultivation technique also uses very little space, which makes it an ideal smallscale business for anyone.
Which Mushrooms are Best Grown on Logs?
Almost any mushroom species can be cultivated on logs. This includes:
- Button mushrooms - edibles
- Shiitake and maitake - gourmet edibles
- Oyster, wood ear and wine cap - gourmet edibles
- Turkey tail and reishi - medicinal species
- Hen of the woods, horn of plenty - gourmet edibles
- Lion's mane - gourmet edibles
- Beech, shimeji, pioppino and lobster mushrooms - also gourmet-edibles.
Logs are most effective at cultivating species that require "casing" (the process of burying the logs under the soil). This technique works well with shiitake and oyster mushrooms, as well as most other gourmet-edible mushrooms.
What Types Of Logs Can You Inoculate?
You can choose your logs based on what type of hardwood is available on your land or in your area.
It’s important to choose healthy trees when selecting logs.
Logs are best if harvested during the fall or winter months. This is because trees are in a period of dormancy during this time so their sugar concentration is higher and bark stays attached to the tree better.
According to Northshore different species thrive on different trees.
Growing Mushrooms On Logs: Step By Step Guide
Find some fresh logs more than 1-month-old since the time of harvesting. However, they shouldn't be too old as other types of fungus beginning to populate the logs.
Calculate how many spawn plugs you will need. To do that, you can use this formula:
Number of holes = (Length of the log in cm x diameter of the log in cm) / 60
For instance, a 4-foot log usually requires about 30 to 50 plugs for full coverage.
All you need to do is drill holes of different sizes in the logs. This can be done by using any type of drill bit, ranging from 1/8 inch to ½ inch depending on what species of mushroom you want to cultivate.
Also, the company that sells you your spawn plugs can tell you what kind of drill bit you’ll need
Once you drill holes, insert the mushroom spawn into those holes. For this process, you can use a special tool called the inoculation tool. This has a blunt end and can be used to gently push the plug into each hole without damaging it or causing any further damage to the log itself.
Coating logs with wax
Now you need to inject holes with spores or mushroom mycelium. You can use a syringe for this purpose and can easily purchase spores online.
After injecting the mushrooms, simply cover the logs with soil (not too much though). You may choose to skip this step, but it can actually really boost growth performance.
Once you have applied the spawn plugs, cover them with wax for protection from outside elements. There are two ways to do this. You can melt beeswax and dip the logs into it or you may choose to purchase pre-made wax coating for your log.
Now that you have inserted the spawn plugs and covered them with wax, you need to store them in a cool dark place. Many experienced growers use cardboard boxes for this purpose.
The logs will now be placed in a greenhouse or shade house until they grow mushrooms
This usually takes about 3 months to 2 years depending on the type of mushroom.
Logs can grow mushrooms for up to five years providing you give them the proper care. If they are being inoculated with shiitake mushroom spawn, once all of the tops have died back it is time to harvest your logs. At this point, you will need to cut the whole log into 7-inch pieces and place them in a shady area for about three to four weeks.
If they are being inoculated with oyster mushroom spawn, logs can be harvested at any time once the mushrooms appear. However, if you would like to grow them for an extended period of time, it is recommended that you harvest them when the mushrooms are young.
Once the mushroom mycelium has colonized the logs, you can cut them into 7-inch pieces and transfer them into a shady area for about three to four weeks before harvesting your fungi.
Growing your own mushrooms on a log is a low-impact, ecologically beneficial technique to raise your food. This technique takes up little space, requires few tools, and may be completed in a relatively short period of time when compared to other mushroom growing methods.
The only downside of growing mushrooms on logs is that you have to wait for some time before you can harvest them. However, the wait is definitely worth it!
Have you grown mushrooms on logs before? How did it go?
Let us know in the comments below!