Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mushroom Project

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms

We have always loved the flavor of Shiitake mushrooms and have used dried forms of the fantastic fungi in our cooking for some time now. When my neighbor L. and I learned that we both had an interest in the little delicacies, we decided to grow our own shiitake.

We started our mushroom project by selecting sections of white oak, which is recommended as an excellent substrate for shiitake to grow. We laid the logs under a canopy of trees for good shade, drilled 1 1/2 inch deep holes into the logs (about 5 inches between each hole, ~ 100 holes/log) and filled the holes with mycelium infused wooden dowels. Each of the dowels contains mycelium of a particular strain of shiitake mushroom, and we chose to experiment with two
strains: one strain that propagates well in cold climates, one that does well in warm.

Our project requires patience. It will take the mycelium 9-12 months to feed off of the sapwood in the logs, form a small colony at the bottom base of the dowel, and then be ready to fruit. Fruiting is induced by submersing the logs in water for several hours (L. and I have not yet figured out how to give our logs the bath needed to start the fruiting, but we'll figure something out!).

Hopefully, by late spring next year, we'll be the proud owners of shiitake producing logs. According to the literature, the logs will be capable of fruiting for 4-5 years after the initial mushrooms appear.

Here is how our project looks right now.

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