We recently received our Shiitake mushroom plugs from Uprising Seeds in Washington State. (http://www.uprisingorganics.com/)
Using some thick branches John and I felled the other day, Tessa and I drilled holes to the exact size of the plugs, hammered the plugs in and sealed them by painting melted beeswax (melted using a metal bowl atop a pot of boiling water, double boiler style) on the top of the plugs. It was a good project for Tessa and I to spend our afternoon doing. It had been over a week since we were able to work together because she has been finishing up her last semester of school! We got to laugh and vent and play a little and later went over to John and Debbie’s for some super delicious butternut squash chili (from our last season’s store of butternuts) and fresh cooked chard from the garden. Farm family dinner! I love it!
It is Debbie’s special project this year to try out growing our own mushrooms. We ordered one hundred plugs and after drilling, plugging, and painting wax over them, Tess and I moved the logs down under the yurt where it would be super shady for them. At dinner, Debbie brought up the fact that…”Don’t they need rain?”. The answer is yeah. Yeah they need rain, or else some sort of moisture to get the decomposition process going. I was so obsessed with finding the perfect shady place, this aspect of what mushrooms need really didn’t cross my mind. Still looking for a better place for them…they might end up leaning against the northwest wall of the shower seeing as the sun doesn’t really touch that area through the tree cover.
It is important to use fresh cut logs so that there will be food available to the mycelium. Also, the logs shouldn’t lean on the ground, as that would encourage too quick a decomposition before the mushrooms take their hold–placing them log cabin style on top of logs is a good route to take or standing them on a wood palate and leaning them against a tree or other structure is another good idea.
This is a long term project–we won’t get mushrooms for about a year. Early next spring, we will submerge the logs for 24-48 hours to create a “monsoon season”, enabling the mushrooms to fruit. Then we will see if this afternoon’s work was worth it! I have never tasted fresh Shiitake mushrooms. I eagerly await the experience.