The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Propagating shiitake mushrooms for free: Full-size logs

Cardboard mycelium barrier

We didn't order any spawn, so how do we plan to get fungi into our new mushroom logs? The idea is to riff off our recent mini-log success and see if we can get mycelium to run from existing logs into fresh new wood.

After bringing three sycamore logs home to our mushroom station, I soaked corrugated cardboard in warm water and layered the wet paper product on top of the fresh logs. Corrugated cardboard is a perfect environment for spawn, so it should tempt the existing fungi out of their old logs and into the new.

Shiitake logs

Speaking of old logs, we stacked three of those on top of the cardboard layer. I was careful to choose all logs of the same variety since I want to get a triple dose of inoculation rather than having different types of shiitakes fighting it out for the fresh wood.

As a side note, I fully expect the three old logs to stop fruiting as soon as they notice the fresh substrate beneath them. In general, fungi are either colonizing new ground as fast as they can or popping out mushrooms to spread their spores, never doing both at the same time. So if you only have a few logs, you might not want to try this at home --- your fruiting logs will be out of commission for as long as they're spreading spawn down below.

Of course, this is all hypothetical at the moment. Time to settle in to wait and see what happens!



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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