Frequently Asked Questions

Shiitake Cultivation

Q: How do I grow Shiitake on logs?

A: Read the Information section on Shiitake logs. We also recommend 2 excellent books on the subject The Shiitake Grower’s Handbook or Growing Shiitake in a Continental Climate

Q: What kind of logs can I use for outdoor cultivation?

A: Most hardwoods will produce some mushrooms. Resinous softwoods such as pine, cedar, spruce etc. are not suitable since the mycelium is inhibited by the resins. Fruitwoods are generally not recommended. Of the hardwoods some species are better suited for commercial cultivation than others.

Oak (any species) is the best. The bark is very durable therefore the logs will last the longest. This wood will also give the best yield of mushrooms.

Maple, ironwood, hickory, alder have been used successfully.

For hobby growers experimentation on various species can give satisfactory results.

You can only use FRESH LOGS, old logs that have been laying in the bush for longer than six months WILL NOT work. They are either too dried out or contaminated with other fungi.
The best success is achieved with fresh winter cut logs, In other words they should be cut as the leaves are falling or later, and before the leaves come out in the spring. This will ensure the highest concentrations of vitamins and nutrients in the wood for the mycelium. Inoculation should take place in the early spring, when the temperature is above 10 C or 55 F. There is no point in inoculating at much lower temperatures as the spawn will not be very active. Ideally inoculation should be finished before temperatures rise above 18 C or 70 F as higher temperatures can lead to more contamination.

For Shiitake, if your logs are cut in late fall or winter, inoculation can take place immediately in the spring. If however they are cut just before leaf out, it is advisable to leave the logs for a month to dry out a bit and kill the cells. If a log is used immediately after cutting it is still alive and will fight off the shiitake mycelium. Other species such as oyster or Maitake are more aggressive and can be used on fresher logs. Be careful however not to dry out the logs too much. Do not leave them fully exposed to the sun for long periods of time. The ideal moisture content should be close to 40%. If you think the logs are too dry you can soak, or sprinkle them with water for a day before inoculation. Logs that have been laying in the bush for 3-6 months may still be usable if they are soaked.

Q: How do I inoculate logs?

A: A series of holes are drilled into the logs and spawn is introduced into the holes, to a depth of 2.5 to 3 cm (1 to /8 inch).  The spawn is a mycelial culture grown out on sawdust and is available as loose spawn in a bag.

Drill your holes 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) apart, in rows 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) apart. The holes should form a diamond pattern, in other words start the second row of holes offset from the holes of the first row as in the example below.

o                      o                      o                      o                      o                      o

            o                      o                      o                      o                      o

o                      o                      o                      o                      o                      o

If you inoculate at a higher rate i.e. holes and rows closer together, then the mycelium will take over the log faster and you can get mushrooms sooner.

A cheaper form of spawn is bulk sawdust spawn in bags. It requires an inoculator and the holes have to be sealed with hot cheese-wax to prevent dehydration of the spawn.

If you plan to inoculate lots of logs. You may want to purchase a pneumatic inoculator or a tool to make your own plugs. Contact us for details

Q: How much spawn will I need and how many sheets do I need to order

One 1.5 kilo bag of spawn will be sufficient for 10 to 15, 4 foot logs. 1One 2.5 kilo bag of spawn will be sufficient for 25 to 30 logs depending on diameter of the logs.

Q: What type and size of drill its do I use?

A: Drill bits for the above plugs are 12  mm (1/2 inch)wood bits. They are available with a depth stopdrilldrill . . Check ourcatalog. When drilling, especially at high speeds, it is advisable to dip the bit in some water after each row of holes. This will cool the bit and extend its life. Sharpen the bits often to make drilling smooth and effortless.

Q: Should I use an angle grinder with an adaptor?

A: Angle grinders run at 10,000 rpm. Most household drills run at around 1000 rpm. When you are drilling an average of 50 holes per log the high speed really saves on time and effort. Adapting routers for this job is not advisable as they run over 20,000 rpm and bits can fracture at the higher speed.

Q: What do I do after inoculation?

A: Your logs are stacked in a shady spot for the ” spawn run “. This is the period of time when the mycelium from the spawn gets into the vascular vessels of the sapwood and runs through the entire log. We recommend watering the logs for 4-6 hrs each week (unless you get lots of rain). This will keep the sapwood moisture content high for better spawn run. Do not just sprinkle the logs lightly i.e. 10 min. each day as this will only serve to degrade the bark. A thorough watering once a week is best. The spawn will start coming out of the end of the logs in a few months.

Q: When do I get my first mushrooms?

A: If you use sawdust spawn and follow a god watering regimen, our multi-range strains will finish the spawn run in as little as 6 months. You may see some mushrooms in the fall if you inoculated in the early spring. The first major ” flush” happens generally the following spring.

Q: How long will my logs last?

A: The lifespan of a log depends on how often it is ” forced ” to produce mushrooms. Forcing involves soaking the log in water (or sprinkling heavily) to give a stimulus to the mycelium to produce a fruitbody. Forcing can be done at regular intervals ranging from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Fruitbody production uses up nutrients, so the more often fruiting is done the quicker the log will be used up. Generally the shorter the interval between forcing, the smaller the size of mushrooms. It is our opinion that if you plan to use Alder or Maple, you should definitely use a higher inoculation rate and shorter intervals between forcings. The logs will then produce mushrooms faster due to the higher inoculation rate, and you will “force” your production out of those logs in a shorter time. Therefore the problems such as earlier debarking and softer wood ( Alder) will not be as important. I am now generally recommending the above for Oak logs as well, though it is not as critical, to minimize the problem of bark degradation that occurs as logs get older. Constant handling of logs for soaking, winter freeze-drying in colder areas take their toll of even the hardy oak bark and logs are lost from production due to this. If you can get your maximum yield out of the log in 3-4 years it is a better commercial cultivation strategy. This method however increases the log management time.

Q: How long do I water my logs to force mushroom production?

A: Watering can be done in two ways, soaking the logs in a tank or sprinkling.

When soaking in a tank the logs must be held down because they will float. Generally the logs are placed in an empty tank, a metal bar or wood is used to wedge the logs in the tank, and the tank is filled. New logs should be soaked for 12-18 hrs. As the logs get older and become more permeable less soaking is required. After the soaking time is up the tank is drained and the logs are removed. Fresh cold water is used for each soaking. This provides a cold shock to the mycelium and gets rid of the old soak water that can get contaminated.

Sprinkling should be done for a at least 48 hrs. You need to get the water into the log, not just on the outside of the bark.

Q: What yield of Shiitake will I get?

A: Consrvatively you can count on 1 lb. per log per year. Forcing the logs can yield more per year, however the nutrients in the logs will be used up faster. Logs have on AVERAGE enough nutrients in them to give a total maximum yield of 6-8 lbs. or 3-4 kgs. over the TOTAL lifespan of the log. This yield will ONLY be achieved with excellent management techniques. In general most people will get less than that. I suggest using a more conservative figure when doing a financial plan. Oyster log cultivation

Q: Can I grow oyster mushrooms on logs?

A: Oyster mushrooms will aggressively colonize logs. The softer hardwoods such as Alder, Poplar are suitable for this. We do not recommend commercial oyster cultivation on logs. Indoor bag cultivation on supplemented straw, corncob, cotton seed scrap, or sawdust based substrates is cheaper and more controllable. Outdoor cultivation of oyster is not financially sound due to the lower price of indoor crops, however for the hobbyist it is quite suitable.

Maitake and Reishi log cultivation

 Q: Can I inoculate hardwood logs with Maitake or Reishi spawn?

A: Yes you can. Maitake and Reishi mycelium is more aggressive than Shiitake and you can successfully inoculate fresh cut logs, stumps and live trees (preferably near the roots). Since the logs need to be buried as quickly as possible we recommend a higher inoculation rate than Shiitake to achieve a fast, thorough spawn run. An inoculation rate of 8 logs per sheet of plugs ( or less) is advisable.

Q: Do I treat the logs the same as Shiitake logs?

A: We recommend that after a successful spawn run above ground, that the logs be buried under a couple of inches or centimeters of soil in a shady spot. From our experience nobody is growing either of these species aboveground as you would Shiitake. We have seen buried logs in Japan that are successfully producing. After you see the mycelium coming at the end of the inoculated logs, dig a shallow trench or make a mound, covering the logs with some soil and leaves. Do this as soon as possible so that the mycelium has a chance to work underground. Keep the area moist but not wet, do not over water and drown the mycelium. Maitake will generally produce fruitbody from the buried logs after the onset of cold weather in the fall, Reishi likes warm weather and fruiting bodies should start in the summer. The buried logs should produce for a few years.

Agaricus spp. ( White button, brown button, Portobello, Portobella, champignons)

Q: Can I grow Portobello? Can I grow white button mushrooms? Do you sell spawn for these species?

A: White button mushrooms are Agaricus bisporus or Agaricus bitorquis. Brown button mushrooms are Agaricus crimini picked early while in their “button” shape. Portobello, Portobella or Portabella are the same mushroom picked at it’s fully mature stage. These mushrooms are the largest cultivated species in North America and are available at all grocery stores. They are cultivated indoors on long trays of composted straw and manure (chicken, horse etc.) We are specializing in the more exotic or gourmet species and we do not produce Agaricus spawn. Check out this web site for more info on these mushrooms.


Kit instructions are available by clicking on the following links.

Shiitake Kit   Oyster Kit   King Oyster  Reishi