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

Choosing oyster mushroom logs

Oyster mushroom plug going into a log covered with lichen and moss.

Oyster mushrooms are a lot less picky than shiitakes, so you can put them in the easier to come by deciduous softwoods rather than in the more difficult to come by hardwoods.  Last year, though, we had a few extra sycamore logs leftover from shiitake inoculation, so we went ahead and inoculated sycamore logs with our oyster spawn too.  As a result, this is the first year we're putting oyster mushroom plugs into our ubiquitous box-elders.

You might have wondered why Mark was cutting down fresh trees on Friday when our woods is full of deadfall from the December storm.  We could have used some of that deadfall for our mushroom logs, but it wouldn't have worked as well.  When the trees tumbled down in December, they were dormant and were storing all of their sugars in their roots --- the deadfall that resulted was very low quality from a mushroom point of view since it lacked any sugars at all.  Now that spring is coming, trees are starting to push nutrient-filled sap up to the branches, a process that maple syrupers take advantage of to fill their buckets with maple sap.  By waiting to cut down fresh trees in late February, we're giving our spawn a higher quality substrate, full of sugars to help them grow quickly.

Our box-elder logs were completely coated with a dense mixture of mosses and lichens, unlike last year's sycamores which were bare-barked.  I can't seem to figure out whether these epiphytes will help or harm the oyster mushrooms' growth, but they sure are pretty!

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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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