How to inoculate your hardwood logs
Choose the right logs for production. Any hardwood log is safe to use, by definition a hardwood tree species is any tree that has flowers (Angiosperms). For larger or commercial operations Poplar or Gum would be the easiest to obtain. If using Gum species use my Shiitake 3782 strain.
For one or a few logs a normal drill is fine for the job. If you have quite a few logs to inoculate a high speed drill or even better an angle grinder with a 8mm drill bit attachment will get the job done much quicker. I recommend using 75-150mm diameter logs 1 meter long. Using smaller diameter logs will enable you to start harvesting mushrooms in 4-6 months. If you are using larger logs, they will fruit for longer but you will have to wait longer for their first fruiting. Using a 75-100mm diameter 1 meter long log you will have 4 rows of 10 wood dowels spaced approximately 100mm apart stagering the holes in each row from the row next to it to form a diamond patern.
Hammer in the inoculated wood dowels so they are flush or slightly countersunk into the log. Once you have filled all the holes you must seal the inoculation points with wax. I use bees wax or soy wax melted to a high heat and applied with a natural bristled brush, synthetic brushes will likely melt, brush wax on the ends of the logs also. The wax keeps out unwanted organisms that will try to compete with your Shiitake mycelium while it’s colonizing the log. The bark on the logs also plays an important role in keeping competitors at bay. Shiitake mycelium copes with competitors very well and they seldom affect Shiitake production.
Place your logs under a tree or bushes, under a deck or shady side of the house to help stop them drying out. Water the logs as often as possible for best results or whenever you water the rest of your garden.
You will know when your logs are ready to fruit when you see the ends of the logs gathering thick chalky appearance. You can now choose to let nature take over and have your logs produce mushrooms during cooler humid months or you can force your logs into production to suit your business schedule.
Shiitake rotation and production
If running a business or home growing and having a consistent supply is important, I will outline a way of forcing your logs actual and artificial into production and giving your logs time to recover before forcing them again.
You will have a 9 week system, it does not matter what season you are in, and you can have 9 logs or 9 stacks of logs. The logs will have to be maintained with moisture in the first 3 week cycle especially during the warmer months.
Soaking can be done in an old bath, wheel barrow or some other bin, the colder the water is the better. If you have a plentiful supply of water you can have some sort of spray or dripper system set up overhead to constantly have water going to the logs for at least 24 hours. This not only hydrates the log but is part of a trigger for mushroom growth.
Week 1: Soak your first logs for 24 hours. The mycelium is also vibration activated so banging or dropping the logs after soaking can increase your yields at this stage. It really does work.
Week 2: Your logs will start to pin
Week 3: From 14 days from soaking your mushrooms will be ready to harvest, pick the mushrooms by cutting at the base and before the veil underneath has dropped. The timing is very consistent.
Week 4,5,6,7,8: Let your logs rest supplying them with intermittent watering during the warmest months.
Then start the process again.
If you only have one log you can cut it into more pieces to have a more regular supply but wait until the log is fully colonized before cutting it up. Smaller pieces will also dry out faster so watering more often will be needed. Again the bark on the logs plays an important role helping to slow down moisture loss.
Melting the wax
The easiest and safest way to melt the wax Soy or Bees wax is to put it into a used spaghetti tin and placing the tin into a pot of boiling water. The wax will only take a few minutes to melt. Keep the water in the pot boiling until you are finished with the wax in case it needs to be re melted while you’re painting it onto your inoculation points.
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