Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm growing Shitakes!

In my last post, I posted a photo just like this one below and I asked the blogosphere if they knew what I was up to.  All you gardeners are so smart and were right on target.  Yes folks, I took a class at The Hort and learned how to inoculate logs of wood with Shitake mushroom spores. 
If you live in the New York City area and love to garden, I highly recommend getting a yearly membership at the Horticultural Society of New York.  Seriously.  Do it now.  I bought my membership this year, and to date, I've taken already 4 gardening related classes and each one has been amazing!  A wealth of knowledge from experts in the field.  This class was taught by Ari Rockland-Miller who writes about all things mushrooms on this site, The Mushroom Forager.  The first part of the class was a powerpoint presentation where Ari described the different types of mushrooms and how to forage for them.  What to look for, when to look for them, what they taste like, and how to store them.  He gave us tips about what to look for when identifying mushrooms and which ones you should stay away from because they can be deadly.  Mushroom foraging is difficult for the newbie, there are many varieties of mushrooms that look like an edible type, therefore you have to be careful with identifying funghi since there are many toxic ones.  Ari went over a few of the easy identifiable ones like the Morel, Porcini and Chicken of the Woods.  If you find a Morel or Porcini he says, then you've hit the jackpot. 
After the lecture, it was our turn to learn hands-on how to inoculate logs with Shitake mushroom spores.
Not all mushrooms varieties can grow from decaying logs.  Shitakes happen to be one of the easier ones to grow.  Being of Asian descent, I've eaten lots of Shitakes in my lifetime, most of the time, they have been dehydrated Shitakes from Japan, Taiwan or China. So to be able to grow them fresh is absolutely, "the coolest thing ever"!
Look at all these people taking the class!!  One of my questions to him was... Where do you put the log if you live in a 600 square foot apartment with no access to a backyard?  His answer?  The fire escape!  Sweet!
Here we all are taking down notes. Definitely a lot of interested funghi people in this class.  The best type of logs to use for inoculation are oak, beech or sugar maple.
The first step to inoculation is drilling holes into the log.  He used a drill bit that was about 3/8 of an inch wide.  He made 4 holes across the log and turned the log 4 times to make a total of 16 holes.
Then the fun part.  There is this plunger type of inoculation tool that you use to insert the mushroom spores into the log.  You insert the tool into the big block of Shitake spores, the mycelium and then put it over a hole in the log and press the button on top of the tool and this pushes the spores into the hole.
This was so much fun!  Each one of us in class got to chose our own log and inoculate it.
After you inoculate each hole, then you take a cotton swab and cover the hole with some melted food grade wax or beeswax.  The wax keeps the spores in the hole and as the log starts to decay the spores take over the log.
And here is my inoculated log.  It was kinda funny carrying this log on the city bus home with me. I definitely got some interesting stares.  I have to find a good place outdoors to leave the log. Ari said that to get the log started, that the entire log should be immersed in water for 24hours to shock the log.  Then place outdoors in a damp semi-shaded area.  Mushrooms need moisture to grow, so it's good to mist the log and sometimes cover it with some plastic to increase humidity.  Then every 2 months, reshock the log but immersing in to water again.  In about 6 months, we should see some signs of growing mushrooms! If you want to try your hand at growing mushrooms, Ari recommended this website. They sell spores and all types of supplies!


  1. So cool! I bought the hubs spores for Xmas but they are still chilling in our fridge! We need to get them into logs - I hope they are still good. I can't wait to follow your progress on this!

  2. I would be careful about storing things on fire escapes - it's against fire codes to block fire escapes for obvious reasons. Building owners are subject to fines and most likely that fine will be passed on to the tenant.

  3. super duper cool! I had to laugh out loud at your carrying the log b/c I was remembering the "log lady" from Twin Peaks. Anyway, There's an area (that my dog likes to pee) at the park that has BURST into mushroom. it looks like an edible one too. I am not a fan of mushrooms, but do find them fascinating. I would love to find out if the ones I'm seeing are edible. And I'd love to inoculate some logs of my own, just for fun.

  4. Wow, you sure have branched out in the things you grow. I tried to send you a message when I show about bee keeping in the city was going to be on, and it turned out to be someone in the market where you may have gotten yours, but something happened that I don't think the message got sent. I assume you probably knew about it, since it was in your area. Maybe you were even in the crowd. It was interesting.


We love to hear from you. Thanks for leaving a comment!

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Book Recommendations