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A Japanese favorite and delicious addition to any meal, shiitake mushrooms (Lentinus edodes) are low on calories, and high on fibers, vitamins, and minerals. They boost your immune system, support heart health, and can help fight cancer. They’re not easily available in the supermarket and even if you do spot them on a rack, they’re priced much higher than the regular button mushrooms. What if you grow your own shiitake mushrooms at home and enjoy the delicacy at a much cheaper price?
Though shiitake mushrooms are a bit more challenging to grow than other varieties and take a longer incubation period, it brings bigger harvests. If given the perfect conditions, they’ll keep coming back every few weeks bringing fresh harvests for years! Continue reading and you’ll learn how to grow shiitake mushrooms.
How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms In Your Garden
Step 1: Source Material
Shiitake mushrooms are wood-decay fungi, which suggests that they grow best on logs. Freshly cut trees or limbs that are at least 3 to 6 inches wide and 3 feet long are best for growing shiitakes. If you cut the log for growing shiitakes, inoculate them on the same day to avoid contamination by other fungi or bacteria. Also, if you’re growing it in your garden, you’ll want to inoculate logs in spring after the frost has passed, so source or cut the log accordingly.
Other than the growing medium, or the log, you’ll also need to source the mushroom spawn. Order a wide range of shiitake mushroom strains since they can adapt to a wider range of weather conditions and offer better chances of success for beginners. Mushroom Plug spawn is best for growing shiitake on logs since they can simply be hammered into holes that you drill in the log.
Step 2: Inoculating The Logs
Use a power drill with a 12mm drill bit to drill holes in the log, 1 ¼ inch deep and 3 to 4 inches apart. You should have about 50 holes per 3-feet log when you’re done.
Once the log is covered with holes, it’s time to plug in the mushroom spawns. Plug spawns can simply be inserted into the hole and hammered in place. Sawdust spawns will need to be forced into the hole using an inoculating tool.
Once the spawns are inside the holes, seal them in place with wax. Make sure you don’t leave any holes empty. If you don’t have enough plugs, fill and seal any empty holes with wax.
Step 3: Incubate For 6 To 12 Months
Shiitake mushrooms take a longer incubation period than other mushroom varieties. Place them at a shady location in your garden that’s off the ground. If placing them on the ground, make sure you set them on bricks or concrete blocks to avoid contamination by other fungi. Cover them with a breathable shade cloth
Water the log for 10 minutes each week if you live in a moist climate. You can skip the watering if there has been rainfall in the interval. In a dry climate, you’ll need to water the log twice a week for at least 10 minutes.
Step 4: Initiate Fruiting And Wait
Experts recommend waiting 9 to 12 months to allow the shiitake colony to grow strong enough before initiating fruiting. To initiate fruiting, the log will need to be submerged in water for 24 hours. You can use a bathtub, swimming pool, pond, or anything that’s easily accessible and can completely submerge the log in non-chlorinated water. After 24 hours, return the log to the shady spot, standing it vertically on the surface.
Mushrooms will start forming in a week or two. Keep the log moist by watering it for 5 minutes once or twice a day.
Step 5: Shiitake Mushroom Harvest
You can harvest the mushrooms while they’re still young and tender, or let them grow a little bigger before harvesting. Harvest them by cutting them off the base of the stem. Keep the log moist even after harvesting and initiate fruiting every 5 to 6 weeks by soaking the log in water for further harvests. However, stop watering once the temperature drops below freezing.
How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms Indoors
Growing shiitake mushrooms is a bit more tricky than growing it on logs outdoors but if you follow the procedure, you can pull it off. To grow them indoors, you need to source a wood-based growing medium such as sawdust or sawdust pellets. You’ll also need a grow bag or container to hold the growing medium. Additionally, source shiitake mushroom spawns to get started.
Moisten the substrate in a large boil and mix it with the mushroom spawn before filling the mixture in the grow bag or container. Poke tiny holes around the bag for air circulation. Tie the top of the grow bag. Store the bag in a dark room at room temperature. There’s no need to water it.
Once the mycelium makes the contents of the bag white, wait another 2 weeks for the bag to turn brown before they are ready to start fruiting. Once shiitakes are ready to fruit, open the top of the bag and place them in a humid environment. Spray them with water every few hours and mushrooms will start forming within a week.
Harvest them as soon as you find the right size and wait for a new flush of mushrooms to appear. You can typically harvest 3 to 5 flushes of mushrooms from a single spawn block before you have to start over with fresh spawn.
How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms – Conclusion
Now that you know how to grow shiitake mushrooms both outdoors and indoors, it’s about time you get started! Source the material, set up the colony, and watch it turn into a beautiful shiitake mushroom crop! Once you get the hang of it, you can grow several types of mushrooms.