Hericium mushrooms–also known as lions mane, monkey’s head and many other names–is an unusual food to cultivate. It is a white fungus with spines flowing downward; larger specimens can fill a bushel basket. The taste and texture, when properly prepared, is like shrimp or lobster and complements gourmet appetizers, soups and entrees, notes the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The mushroom is planted on logs and left primarily to nature to complete the growth process.
Cut a hardwood log with a chainsaw, such as a willow or maple, that is 12 to 16 inches in diameter and approximately 4 feet long. The log should be freshly cut for only three to four days or harvested from a living tree.
Drill 5/16-inch holes with a power drill that are approximately 4 inches deep and 5 inches apart. Drill as many holes in the sides and top of the log, in an oval pattern, as you wish to plant the mushroom. Do not plan to plant mushrooms on the bottom of the log where it touches the ground. Tree stumps or dead trees still standing can also be used.
Obtain mushroom spawn plugs from garden centers. While not required, specify two strains of Hericium mushrooms if possible for best results.
Melt cheese wax, available at health food stores, by boiling 3 inches of water in a sauce pan, filling a standard empty vegetable can with the required amount of cheese wax and setting the can upright in the boiling water. Boil the can of wax until the wax becomes liquefied.
Brush a heavy coating of the melted wax over the spawn plugs to protect them from insects and the weather.
Place the completed log outside in a damp and shady area to sprout and grow naturally.
Spray the log with water once or twice weekly for the first several weeks if the area does not receive any rain.