Earlier this spring we decided to try growing shiitake mushrooms. They won't add anyting to the Urban Ton this year, as it takes nearly twelve months before they produce, but we thought we would share the process of getting setup to grow them.
Shiitake mushrooms prefer to grow in oak or other hard woods, that are freshly cut, and with the bark still attached. One of our neighbors has been custom cutting his own lumber and had some outer planks from an oak tree leftover that he gave us to use. To innoculate the wood with shiitake mushroom spawn we purchased plugs from Raintree Nursery but they are readily available from many commercial sources.
We drilled holes into each log spaced approxametly 5 inches apart, and one inch deep. Once all the holes were drilled we tapped one plug into into each of the holes with a hammer.
The plugs were then covered with a layer of wax to seal them. This keeps air out as the mycelium begin to spread thought the wood.
Over the course of the next year these mycelium should spread thought the entire log. To maintain proper growing conditions the temerature needs to stay above freezing, be humid, damp, and dark. By keeping them in a corner room in our basement we are able to very closley replicate these conditions. In another 8 months we will soak the logs in water for 2-3 days which encourages the mycelium to start producing mushrooms. We inoculated 5 logs and if all goes well when they start producing next year we should have a continuous supply of shiitake mushrooms for several years to come!