Each sheet contains 600 plugs. The spawn is at its peak. Immediate use is recommended. However, if you do not intend to use it within the next few days, store in the plastic bag in the refrigerator at 2-50C. Refrigerated the spawn will keep for up to 1 month. Bring it to room temperature for a day or two before using. Use the following rules to protect the spawn from contamination:
- clean your hands periodically;
- cut the sheet up into smaller pieces to make it more manageable, we suggest strips of two rows each. Pop the plugs out with finger pressure and insert them into pre-drilled holes.
- close the bag after removing individual pieces of the sheet to prevent dehydration, and keep it in the shade in a cool spot.
Ideally your logs were cut this past winter and have been kept in a shady spot. If they were cut during the previous summer the success rate will be lower. The moisture content of the log cannot be below 25%. Ideally it should be above 35%. If there are any concerns that it might be below 25% the logs should be soaked for at least 24 hours or sprinkled for a few days prior to inoculation. If your logs have a lot of lichen or moss growth on them, brushing them off before drilling is a good idea. Do not pre-drill the logs – plan your project so that the drilling & inoculating are done in single sessions. Use a 13 mm (9/16) wood drill bit. The depth of the hole should be 3 to 3.5 cm or 1 1/4 to 1 1/5”. The hole should be ¼ to 1/8” deeper than the length of the plug so that a small air space remains after the plug has been inserted. Do not push the plug to the bottom of the hole – leave the cap of the plug flush with the surface of the bark. For Shiitake or Oyster, drill your holes 10-15 cm (4-6 inches) apart, in offset rows 5-7.5 cm (2-3 inches) apart. The holes should form a diamond pattern as in the diagram below.
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After drilling the holes, pop the plugs out from the sheet by pushing the bottom of the plastic well. Manually insert the plugs into the pre-drilled holes so that the Styrofoam cap is flush with the bark and a small air space remains at the bottom. Following inoculation, stack your logs in a shaded area and there are various stacking patterns. The ideal location is well drained with some air movement. It is recommended that you water the logs thoroughly (sprinkle for 4-6 hours) once a week unless there is sufficient rainfall. Aim to keep the moisture inside the logs high (40-50% or higher) but allow the outside to dry to discourage moulds from rotting the bark off the logs. After a few months you should see the white mycelium showing at the ends of the logs which indicates a complete spawn run.
At this stage bury your Maitake or Reishi logs under 3 cm. (1 ½ in.) of soil and cover with leaves. The Shiitake logs are left in their stack (re-stacking once is recommended in order to vary the exposure) until the following spring. In the spring stand the Shiitake logs against a wire (barbed wire works well) or rope that has been strung between two posts or trees. Another option is to lean them against a support such as a tree – tepee style around the trunk of the tree. There are other stacking arrangements that work well (we will insert photos as soon as we can). This should be done early enough in the spring to prevent the mushrooms growing out on the ground and to allow them to emerge unobstructed.
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