How to grow Shiitake Mushrooms

How to grow Shitake Mushrooms

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Transcription of: How To Grow Shitake Mushrooms..by The Urban Farming Guys

So, here we are with my friend, Jason Golden, at the Golden Acre Urban Farm. Tell us what we are doing, Jason.

Today, we are inoculating Shitake mushroom logs. I have harvested four-foot segments of red oak from our tree. And they have been waiting for three weeks. Now they have been hydrated in a water bath and we are ready to drill and inoculate.

Alright! So, what we have done is we have soaked our oak logs in a bath. You can use your bath inside your house or any other kind of a bath to hydrate the logs. The logs have been drying now for a couple of weeks. And, so, what we want to do is provide a fertile bed for the spores to take hold. So, we moisturize our logs. So, I will grab a log. I have these boards on my sawhorses here to keep everything from rolling around, to give me good control.

So, these have been soaking how long?

They have been soaking for 24 hours.


This is a six-inch log. I want six lines of spores.

Six lines? Boom, boom, boom. That is one line.

Right. So, what I will do is I will mark it, just to help me. One there, one there, one there, and one there. I have an 11/32 drill bits. I have taped it to an inch and a quarter. The plugs are an inch long, and so I am giving it a little more space. Once the plugs are in, we will fill the extra space with some beeswax. So, I am going to come six inches in; I am just going to eyeball it with my fingers.

Alright. Does the six inches have anything to do with the size of the log?

No, six inches is the same no matter what size of log. It is just to allow the fungus that is within each dowel to have a significant amount of meat to be chewing on. So, you want to space them out. Now, I am turning the log, so as I can drill my next one. My next line is here. Now, the trick is, we want them in a diamond shape.

So, you will go here and then here.

Yep. Okay, so our holes are drilled. We are going to take some Shitake mushroom spores and our dowels, and we are going to put one into each hole. We have a hammer, we have a spore, and then some kind of an object to hammer it in a little bit farther, whatever you have lying around. And, what actually we want to do is drive them in as deep as they will go, to leave a little bit of space for the beeswax covering.

So, we are going to seal these in with beeswax?

That is right. We have inoculated our log, our plugs are in place. And, now, we are ready to seal with beeswax. I picked this up from a local farmer. Basically, we use that just to hermetically seal the spores in the log, to keep competition from other fungus out and to give the spores a chance to germinate.

Heating up the beeswax here; ready to take it off.

So, we have our melted beeswax. I just pore a little bit in; try not to drip any, but if you drip, it is not a big deal. I just do it like this and try to do a steady hand. Fill it up to the top. And, again, this is to keep the Shitake spores safe from competing fungus.

So, this is the beeswax after it has hardened here. So, Jason, tell me about this stack of logs right here.

Well, this stack is sitting in the shade, and we are basically counting down the months until we can start fruiting these logs. These logs take at least six months before the first fruiting. In nature, they fruit during the rainy season, which is the Spring or Fall. But, if you happen to inoculate out of season, you can shock them on yourself. What is involved in that is basically taking it back to the original water baths, soaking them for 24-48 hours. And then, when you take them out, it said that if you knock them on the ground, and just shock the logs, they will fruit shortly thereafter.

So, how long have these logs been sitting here?

These have been here for about five months. I expect to be able to hydrate and shock these logs next month.

How often do you have to water these?

Well, it depends on how much rain you get. I tend to water them about every two to three weeks. But, if you had plenty of rain, you are not required to do that.

Okay. Is there a reason they are stacked like this?

I have just done this to be a decorative feature in the yard. Primarily, you want to raise them off the ground, to keep them from getting into the natural fungus structure of the land. So, I am raising them up to keep them basically clean.

To keep them from competing fungus? Okay, great. Well, we are going to magically show you these, in the next clip here, already fruiting.

So, Jason, you have a lot of wood here! You have some hedge back there, you have some ash and oak. Why are we using oak versus any of the other wood you have on your property?

Well, oak is the native wood in Japan that Shitake mushrooms grow from. And on the market, Shitakes grown from oak gain a higher value than any of the other wood species. It has been said that you can grow them in cherry and some of the other hard woods, but oak is the premium wood for Shitake mushrooms.

Okay, and can you use just any oak or does it have to be like old, dead for a while? Or, what do you have to do?

Well, you want new cut wood. You do not want wood that has been in your woodshed for three years. So, do some pruning on your trees, but it has to be new wood.

Shitakes will fruit as early as six months from inoculation. These guys took 18 months; we just let them fruit with the season, probably could have watered them a little bit more. But, they will fruit once a month after this. By soaking them in water, you can get them to fruit again for another five years until the log completely falls apart. What you want to do is simulate spring by soaking them in ice water. Or, if it is already cold outside, you can soak them in water and they will fruit again. Soak them in ice water in the summer, and it thinks that spring is here and it is ready to fruit again. And, boom, there they are.

We are ready to harvest some of our Shitake mushrooms. You want to get them before the heads fully open up. You want the heads to separate from the stem to where you can see the gills about two-thirds of the way. When they open up too much, that is not good. You do not want to get them too early and you do not want to get them too late. So, these guys right here, these two in particular, are perfect. They are a little bit too much even; you can see underneath they still have the curl. You can get them right before this or right here at this stage is good.

These, here, did not even exist four days ago. They were under the wood, they started poking up. And, here, four days later, we have a harvest. We are going to harvest some more tomorrow. And, we are going to have some stir fry tonight.

6 Responses to “How to grow Shiitake Mushrooms”

  1. Paul Holowko says:

    I produced a video on how to grow Oyster Mushrooms from starts from the grocery store. Here is the link….



  2. Love it guys. Definitely one to try on my own In fact I was just reading about this the other day on save our skills.com

    Really cool. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for sharing this video…I really liked it….

  4. Carlos Inducil says:

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  5. T.J. Huff says:

    Hey Guys! Thanks for sharing all this wonderful information. I was wondering if there is an ideal season to inoculate the logs? Winter is upon us but I was wondering if I could inoculate now, and come spring time possibly have my first harvest? Thanks for your help, TJ