Mushroom Cultivation with Plug Spawn
Plug Spawn works well with the Log Method and Stump Method (described below)
PICKING A LOG
What type of wood should I use?
Excellent- Red and White Oak, Sugar Maple
Very Good- Beech, Ironwood, Musclewood
Good- Black and Yellow Birch, Hickory, Red Maple
Bad (Except for Oysters)- Soft Hardwoods like Poplar Aspen etc.
Bad- White Ash, Elm, Fruit Wood
Unknown- Other Hardwood Species (experiment!)
Should the wood be old or freshly cut?
Only freshly cut disease-free wood should be used. Old or rotting wood should be avoided as it will likely contain contaminant fungi or be too dry to support mushroom growth. After cutting the wood the sooner you can inoculate the log the better though you can wait up to 4 weeks after cutting before inoculating the log. During the winter months the inoculation window can be extended for several months by covering freshly cut wood with snow to maintain moisture until you are ready to inoculate in early spring.
When should I cut my logs?
It is best to fell your trees during the early spring or winter (the dormant season) and as close to the anticipated time of inoculation as possible. The worst time to cut your logs is during the tree’s budding-out period. When the leaves are developing the bark on the tree is particularly weak and susceptible to damage. Although considered less ideal by some growers trees can be cut during the summer months after the trees have leafed out and into early fall.
Works best with the Log Method. It will take at least 12 months of colonization before producing mushrooms and tends to fruit in the Summer through the Fall after rainfalls. Preferred wood species are Oak, Maple, or Beech.
Oyster / Italian Oyster / Snow Oyster
Works well with the Log, Stump, and Totem methods. Colonization is fast and should start producing in 4-12 months. They fruit best in the Spring and Fall and prefer softer hardwoods such as Poplar and Birch. Though they will also work on Maple or Oak.
Similar to the Grey Oyster. Prefers Log, Stump, and Totem methods. Colonization is fast and should start producing in 4-12 months. Golden Oyster is a tropical species and prefers to fruit in the summer months. They also prefer softer hardwoods such as Poplar and Birch.
Prefers the Totem Method, though works with Log or Stump Methods. Colonization is 12-24 months and fruits in the Fall. Prefers Maple.
Chicken of the Woods
Chickens prefer very large Logs or Stumps. They are the slowest colonizers at 16-24 months. They can fruit through the Summer and Fall and prefer hard woods such as Oak or Maple.
Reishi likes any of the three methods. Colonizes in 12-24 months. Prefers Oak and fruits in the Summer. After a 1-year colonization period above ground, Reishi logs may be buried under 2 inches of top soil. Mushrooms fruit from logs and will emerge from the soil.
Chestnuts work well in the stump and log method. Maple and Oaks. After a 1-year colonization period above ground, Chestnut logs may be buried under 2 inches of top soil. Mushrooms fruit from logs and will emerge from the soil. *CHESTNUTS HAVE POISONOUS LOOK ALIKES, BE SURE TO PROPERLY IDENTIFY THEM! BE FAMILIAR WITH THE DEADLY Galerina autumnalis
Hen of the Woods
Hen of the Woods only works in Oak logs. After a 1-year colonization period above ground, Hen logs may be buried under 2 inches of top soil. Mushrooms fruit from logs and will emerge from the soil.
HOW TO STORE YOUR SPAWN!
Keep your plug spawn refrigerated until use. Spawn is fine unrefrigerated for a few months, but it is best to throw it in the fridge until use once purchased.
Only open your spawn bags when you are ready to use them! Opening them prematurely will increase the risk of them molding.
Over time the mushroom mycelium will naturally grow throughout your spawn bag. This is normal! With most species it will look like a thick white mold, Chicken of the Woods tends to make a yellowish mycelium.
The little dots that you may find inside your spawn bag are millet seeds that we use to pass the mushroom culture on to the wooden plugs. They are normal and can be ignored.
You can break apart the spawn just before using it if it is too heavily colonized (if it is completely white with mycelium) simply twist and break apart in the bag.
It is not ideal to use spawn for more than one inoculation day.
Any size stumps can be inoculated but they should be located in a shady environment. Make sure you know what species of tree the stump came from!
Use a 5/16’’ bit and drill 1’’ holes all over the top, sides, and exposed roots of the stump.
Place plugs into your holes, using a hammer if the fit is snug, and brush melted paraffin or beeswax over each plugged hole. We use a crockpot to melt the wax and a paint brush to apply it!
Stumps take a while to colonize but will produce for up to a decade.
Logs should be 3’’ to 8’’ in diameter and can be as long as you would prefer, though they are easiest to relocate when they are 30’’ to 50’’ long.
Use a 5/16’’ bit and drill 1’’ holes in a diamond pattern all over the perimeter of the log, omitting either end. Place plugs into your holes, using a hammer if the fit is snug, and brush melted paraffin or beeswax over each plugged hole. We use a crockpot to melt the wax and a paint brush or waxto apply it! The wax keeps other organisms from utilizing your drilled holes to colonize the log.
For initial log colonization wood can be stacked like firewood in a shady area of forest. At this stage stacks should be kept low to the ground where it is more humid yet out of direct contact with the forest floor. A pallet or pieces of scrap wood work well for this. After colonization period is finished, restack the logs in a log-cabin fashion for easy harvesting and airflow. Do not let your logs dry out! Place in a shady part of your garden or in the woods. If there is a prolonged dry spell during the summer it is best to spray logs with a hose.