Hunting down oaks for shiitakes
I went out into the woods last weekend looking for tree species on the shiitake-favorites list...and
ended up stumbling across not one but two places with white oaks
perfect for the cutting! I guess I wrote too soon when I said our farm
is too low and wet for oaks.
I had planned to cut one
of the double trunks from the tree in the foreground of the first photo
as our second tree, but in the end I decided to give that individual
another five or ten years to grow. I wouldn't have gotten many mushroom
logs out of the trunk as-is, so instead I opted to let Mark cut a
single-trunked oak that was just the right diameter. I think
this tree will sprout back from the base (since that's how our
double-trunked trees arose in the first place), so hopefully we'll have
more mushroom logs there...in about forty-five years. (Yes, counting the
rings of one of the cut oaks showed it to be just about Mark's age.)
In Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation
(a top-notch book that I'll be reviewing later this month), Tradd
Cotter recommends cutting logs about a week before plugging with spawn
to give the tree's natural defenses time to dissolve. At the other
extreme, you might get away with waiting as long as two months between
cutting and plugging for oaks, but sooner is generally better than later
since wild mushroom spawn can invade if you wait too long. But don't
inoculate if you're going to see prolonged periods below 18 degrees
Fahrenheit in the near future --- instead, keep the spawn in the fridge
and wait until the weather warms up a bit. Hopefully our weather will
cooperate and we'll be able to plug our oak logs week after next.
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