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

Preparing for your mushrooms --- cutting logs

Sycamore logs for shiitake mushroomsWe took advantage of a beautiful day on Monday to cut down our mushroom trees.  Logs for mushrooms should be cut from healthy living trees so that your spawn doesn't have any wild fungi to compete with, and February is the perfect time of year to cut the fully dormant trees.

The type of tree to cut for your mushroom depends on the species you want to grow.  Shiitakes can be grown on oaks, Sugar Maple, Ironwood, Sweetgum, and a few other species --- most people prefer to grow them on oaks.  However, we don't have many oaks in our forest since they're a prime timber tree, so I was glad to learn that a study in North Carolina suggested that Sycamore is an even better host for shiitakes in our area.

 Oyster mushrooms can grow on just about any hardwood but they prefer the softer ones which shiitakes don't like.  I was thrilled to learn that oysters thrive on Box-Elder --- since our floodplain is about 50% Box-Elder, that will be our tree of choice for the oyster mushrooms.  (Unlike shiitakes, oyster mushrooms are actually native to our area and can be found wild in our woods, but I don't trust my skills enough to eat wild mushrooms.  While checking this out, I also learned that oyster mushrooms kill and eat nematodes --- who would have known!)

Sycamore logs for shiitake mushroomsIf you cut your trees earlier in the winter, you should leave them whole until near the time for innoculation.  But since we will be innoculating soon, we went ahead and cut our trees up into logs --- about 3 to 8" inches in diameter by 36 to 40 inches long.  I've found that shorter and thinner logs are a bit easier to manhandle into and out of the kiddy pool we soak them in.  Stay tuned for innoculation!

This post is part of our Innoculating Mushroom Logs series.  Read all of the entries:

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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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