Shiitake Mushroom Logs

We are finally, finally getting our “Herb and ‘Shroom Garden” going. And when I say finally, I mean FINALLY. I have been working so hard to get the main garden planted (and reading fiction novels which is quite un-characteristic for this non-fiction bookworm) that I have been struggling to get the Herb and ‘Shroom Garden going. But it is my goal over this next week to be all set in finishing up the rest of my oak logs for shiitake mushrooms and to plant an oasis worth of basil, parsley, rosemary, and other herbs to fill up our teeny, tiny side yard.

And as part of that goal, I have finished half of the one hundred (yeah… that’s not a typo) inoculated plugs I ordered. Phew! No one told me that drilling one hundred holes into oak logs was going to be hard using just a home-use electric drill. Well, maybe someone did, but I wasn’t listening.

Making your own mushroom logs is this easy:

Well, one, you need some 4-6″ diameter hardwood logs. The only types of wood that don’t work well are: soft woods, evergreens, white oak, pine, and cedar.

Two, you will need some sort of power/electric drill with a 5/16″ drill bit. The size of the drill bit needed will also depend on what size inoculated dowels you order. I don’t know how well I can recommend them since I have never done this before, but I ordered my shiitake inoculated dowels from Everything Mushrooms this time. We’ll see how it goes.

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First, drill holes about 2″ inches deep in a diamond pattern along your log. You will want your holes to be 3-5″ inches apart and in 4-5 rows depending on the size of your log.

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Next, you will hammer in one dowel per hole. This is easy right?! Make sure the dowel sinks into the hole a bit and is not sticking out. If you need to, use a punch to hammer the dowel into the log.

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The last step is to wax the top of the dowel filled holes in the log so that they are sealed. You can also wax the ends of the log, but multiple sources have noted that that is not necessary. It is recommended that you use “cheese wax” or beeswax. Since we have beeswax around here, I didn’t see a need to spend money on the cheese wax, although it is only about $8.00 a pound.
I’m not sure how well you can see the beeswax seal coating on top of the plug, but it’s there.

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Now we just have to stack the logs so that they are not touching the soil and tap our feet as we wait six months to a year for our mushrooms. It’s going to be awhile. After you inoculate, you should water the logs 2-3 times a week to maintain the moisture level in the wood. After a log is taken over by the mycelium (mushroomyness), they will start to fruit (produce mushrooms).You can also force fruit the logs by completely soaking them in water for 12 to 24 hours every 5 weeks.

12 thoughts on “Shiitake Mushroom Logs

  1. The waiting is probably the hardest part! so my question is this: Do you have to replace the logs and do this all again every year or will they just keep producing forever.(given the right conditions) I am pretty sure they just keep going o n there own but thought it was a good question that your readers may want to know too!

  2. I’ve heard that you can “shock” the logs into fruiting faster. Here’s a link:
    http://wigglywigglers.blogspot.com/2006/12/shiitake-mushroom-log-q-and-as.html
    Q. When will they fruit?
    A. The exciting option: Shock the logs to initiate fruiting by either knocking one end of the log sharply on hard ground and totally immersing it in COLD rainwater (the icier the better!) for 48 hours.
    The boring option: Place the log in a sheltered, shady spot and lightly cover with plastic to increase humidity, a shopping bag is ideal. Logs should start fruiting within 1 – 3 weeks, forming in ‘flushes’. Remove the plastic cover once fruiting has started.

  3. Can’t wait for your follow-up post and photos. This sounds like a terrific method. Average temp in the islands is 80 degrees in the shade so will have to find a source for high temp ‘rooms but hardwood is no problem. Love the idea of growing my own.

    • Me neither! I walk by them everyday looking for mushrooms. 😉 Around the Internet, I did spot some high temperature mushroom plug kits –although now that I’m thinking of it, I’m not sure what kind they were. But they’re out there. Thanks for reading!

  4. Wondering if you shock it too early will you will exhaust the inoculated pug before it is able to populate your log? The mycelium will grow much quicker in you area, for you how early is early?

    I live in a much colder climate, eastern Canada. Last May I attended a seminar/workshop and left with a log, exciteing. After waiting a full year, as instructed, I finally shocked the log last week. Now I’m waiting to see if I get any results, cross your fingers! I also inoculated several logs for next year’s shocking. I’m trying Oyster mushrooms too, much easier process and I should see results this fall.

    • The trick is to make sure the mycelium has well taken over your log before shocking. So, by looking at the log end, if I am not seeing discoloration, that would be my clue to the possibility that the shiitake mycelium has not had enough time to become established. If that is true, I probably won’t shock it in the fall for an early autumn fruiting. But if I do see that grey or white discoloration on the ends of the logs, I will tap the logs hard on the ground, soak them, and hope for the best. If you shock too early, I don’t think there would be any adverse effects other than you will have to wait a bit longer for your mushrooms than you wanted.

  5. Bought a log at the Mother Earth News Fair last yr. Took a class on the logs the yr before & the instructor’s booth sold out of logs before I could get to it (typically happens). It’s been nearly a yr since I bought this log. I’ve watered a little, moved it a few times, soaked it once, banged it on the ground a few mos ago and finally, yesterday, just noticed I have shitake! Very exciting, but now, when do I harvest? They were small yesterday -like an inch across.

      • Thanks for resonding so fast. I am shocked how fast they grew from yesterday. Just cut some and, WHEW! what a harvest! Could barely carry the whole 2oz in the house. LOL!! But still… it is very exciting and I got ten nice little mushrooms- rock on! Should make for a great addition to an omelet 🙂

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