Shiitake mushrooms are an easy and delicious crop to grow. All you need is a shady outdoor area that gets little to no direct sunlight to be successful at growing your own shiitake mushrooms.
Experience a full, rich, and meaty flavor from the mushrooms, as they will be harvested fresh (not dried), and because they have to work harder to produce stronger and more resilient mushrooms on our hardwood oak logs. Most commercial shiitake mushrooms are grown in a climate controlled indoor environment on sawdust bags and thus do not generally have the same taste.
Each log will produce shiitake mushrooms up to 3 times per year for a 3-4 year period if handled properly. Keep in mind that the first year’s harvest is usually of lower yields, but will increase in subsequent years as the shiitake mycelium grow and becomes more established within the log.
- 24″ OR 48” hardwood oak log
- inoculated with a wide temperature-range shiitake mycelium
- will produce mushrooms up to 3 times per year for a 3-4 year period (or more if you follow the instructions)
After a certain time and under the right conditions, your log will start to fruit and produce mushrooms on its own. However, you may choose to speed up the process for a more regular harvest of mushrooms up to 3 times a year. This is done by “shocking the log”
- When the outdoor daytime temperatures have warmed to 18-20 C, submerge the log in a container of COLD water overnight or for at least 10 hours. Use the coldest water possible and add ice to your container for best results.
- Place a weight on the log to keep it submerged. You may leave the log outside, place it in your fridge (if you have the space), in a cold room, or other suitable area.
- Shock the log. To shock the log, remove the log from the water and with a firm grip, smack both ends of the log on a hard surface. You can also use a hammer and hit both ends of the log with a sharp rap. This will help activate the shiitake spawn. At this time, you may find that some or all of the Styrofoam plugs have fallen away. This is normal and there is no harm done to your log.
- Stand the log on its end and place it directly on the ground or in a tub of moist soil. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet to allow the log to draw up some moisture into its centre for the shiitake to feed off of. For condo/apartment balconies or sunnier areas, consider placing a tarp, large cardboard box or other barrier around your log (but not touching) to further ensure that the log does not receive direct sun.
- Within a few days, mushroom “buds” will start to appear anywhere on the log. Sometimes for the very first cycle, there will be only a few mushrooms. Other times, the entire log will be covered. Each cycle can and probably will be different. If no shiitakes appear the very first time, let the log rest for 3 weeks and soak and activate it again
- Once the mushrooms have grown and appear well rounded with gills open underneath, it is time to harvest your crop of mushrooms. Pick the mushrooms by pinching the base of the stem and twisting or cutting them off with a sharp knife.
- When all the mushrooms have been harvested, leave the log in a shaded area where it will benefit from the rain and its natural environment. Let the logs rest for approximately 6 weeks before you soak and strike the log again. If the weather is very hot and dry, consider watering the log with a hose or soaking it overnight to ensure that it does not dry out.
- When the fall harvest is over, place the log on its side and cover it up with a tarp or other object for the winter. Again, ensure the log is in a shady area as the winter sun can damage the log and dry it out. A covering of snow is ideal. Logs can also be kept in an unheated enclosure as well.
General Care and Maintenance:
- place the logs in a shady area to avoid having the log dry out completely and to avoid overheating
- stand the log on its end, leaning against another object for support
- from Spring through Fall, shock the logs every 8 weeks for harvest of shiitake mushrooms
- hose the log down every week or every other week to keep the log moist
Q. I have a partial shade area of my yard. Can I still grow mushrooms?
A. Yes, what we will recommend is for you to get a tarp, large cardboard box or other object provide additional shade to your log. The key is to keep the log moist (not
Q. How long will the log last and produce mushrooms?
A. With proper care, the logs will last on average 4-5 years.
Q. What kind of logs do you use?
A. Our shiitake logs are cut from pristine Canadian hardwood oak logs grown in Muskoka. They have not been near any pesticides, herbicides, or other chemicals. These logs are cut in the middle of winter to ensure the optimal moisture and sugar content of the log for your shiitakes to grow.
Q. When can I expect to harvest my mushrooms?
A. The logs will fruit outdoors anywhere from May to November depending on conditions
Q. What if I skip a cycle and don’t shock the log? Will there by any adverse effects?
A. It’s fine if you skip a cycle and there will not be any adverse effects. What will happen is that the log may fruit spontaneously due to the right environmental conditions or the mycelium will happily continue digesting the wood inside the log and produce larger mushrooms the next time you shock the log
Q. Can I put my log inside and still grow shiitake mushrooms?
A. We do not suggest or recommend storing the logs and growing mushrooms in an indoor environment, however it is possible to do so. An indoor environment is not the ideal environment for the logs because of a lack of humidity in the air, a lack of the day/night cycles and lack of natural rainfall. For these reasons we suggest growing the logs in an outdoor environment.
Q. How are the logs prepared?
A. The winter is when the oak logs for our shiitake mushrooms must be cut and inoculated. This is when the sugar content in the logs is at an optimal range. Next, about a dozen holes are drilled in each log, and then shiitake plugs are placed inside each hole. The holes are then capped with Styrofoam plugs and left to incubate for one year. The logs are ready to fruit the following spring.
Q. What happens if the Styrofoam plugs fall out of the log?
A. The Styrofoam plugs will naturally fall out of the log during the shocking or fruiting process. There are no adverse effects if this happens.
Q. What happens after 4-5 years to my log?
A. After the log is spent and given its energy to the shiitake mycelium, you will need to order another log in order to grow more mushrooms. The old log can be used as firewood.
Q. What do I do with my log in the winter?
A. Leave it where it was during the rest of the year in a shady spot. You can even cover the log with a pile of leaves or a blanket of snow.
Q. How long do I soak the logs for?
A. Soak the logs anywhere from 6-18 hours. The older the log, the less time you will need to spend soaking it as it will naturally be more porous. Use the coldest water possible or add ice to the water bath help get “stuck” logs to start fruiting. Irrigating with a sprinkler for 24-48 hours also works, though does not get the same results as soaking the logs.
Q. Do I need to make sure the log looks moist all the time?
A. No. The most important thing is the internal moisture content of the log. It is natural and important that the bark of the log may look and feel dry to prevent mold from growing on it and to prevent premature deterioration of the bark. The bark does not have to be wet and moist the entire time.
Q. I think my log may have dried out. What can I do?
A. If you think your log has dried out, you may still be able to save it. Engage in more frequent soakings of the log once a week for 2-4 weeks to increase the internal moisture content of your log and make sure you use ice-cold water and add lots of additional ice when soaking the log.
Q. How quickly will I get mushrooms after shocking the log?
A. The speed of the fruiting depends on the ambient temperature and humidity. Spring and fall growth is usually slow, while summer fruitings can mature in a couple of days. The mushrooms should be harvested shortly after the veil has broken under the cap revealing the gills
Q. How important is the bark of the log?
The integrity of the bark is very important for your log as it is the “skin” of your log. It keeps moisture in and external organism out. The bark is negatively affected by UV rays and by constnat wet/dampness. Place the log in a well ventilated area and not in standing water. Your log should be standing up, one end on the ground and the other leaning against something. This prevents the mushrooms from getting squashed or dirty as they emerge, and allows the log to absorb some moisture from the ground. The logs should be handled with care as they age and the bark becomes more fragile.