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How to Grow Mushrooms on Logs

By James Young ; Updated September 21, 2017

Gardeners may choose from among several varieties of edible mushrooms for growing on hardwood logs. Growers must match the type of mushroom to the type of wood available and provide the best growing conditions. Fruiting could begin in only months and may repeat regularly for several years, until the fungus consumes the log. Not every location or climate favors mushroom growth, but if wild varieties prosper in your area, growing your own is possible.

Harvest hardwood trees for use as mushroom logs from after leaf fall to early spring. Small healthy trees with straight sections 3 inches to 6 inches in diameter will be easier to stack and shift than mature trees. Cut the trees into 40-inch long sections.

Keep the logs clean and don't damage the bark. Stack the logs on temporary racks in a shady and sheltered area. Set concrete blocks 6 feet apart in rows 3 feet apart and lay 6-foot posts across them. Lay 40-inch spawn logs atop the posts.

Run a lawn sprinkler over the logs for two or three hours and then cover the logs with a plastic tarp. Let the wood soak under the plastic sheet overnight.

Melt a block of cheese wax in a double boiler. Melting in the double boiler prevents overheating; overheated wax could explode in a flash fire. Carry the double boiler to the logs.

Uncover the logs and mark plug locations with the punch, 6 inches apart down the length of the logs, beginning 2 inches from one end. Bore 5/16-inch diameter holes 1 inch deep at the marks.

Drive mushroom spawn plug dowels into the holes and paint them sealed with wax. Be sure neither the holes nor the spawn plugs dry out.

Rotate the log and drill a second row of plug holes 2 1/2 inches from the first. If the first row has plugs at 2 inches and 8 inches on the log, the first plug in the second row should be at 5 inches; the next at 11, and so on. Inoculate the entire surface with evenly spaced plugs.

Lay inoculated logs in a row end to end on the ground. Lean a second row against them. Stack a third row end to end on the base of the leaners, and lean a fourth row against that. Continue until all logs are stacked.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Hardwood trees or logs
  • Chainsaw
  • Cement blocks
  • 6-foot wooden posts
  • Garden hose
  • Lawn sprinkler
  • Plastic tarp 3 mils thick
  • Tape measure
  • Punch
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill or bit brace
  • 5/16-inch drill bit
  • Plug spawn
  • Double boiler
  • Cheese wax
  • Daubing brush

Tips

  • Don't let the logs dry out. Run the sprinkler over the stacks for two or three hours twice a week in dry weather. Let the surface of the logs dry slightly between sprinklings to discourage other fungal growth from starting.
  • Keep the logs shaded and out of the wind. If leaf fall removes natural cover, use shade cloth or cover the logs with evergreen boughs.
  • Rotate the logs end for end in the stack every three months. First crops could emerge in as little as nine months.
  • Match the spawn to the tree. Different types of mushrooms prefer different types of wood.

Warning

  • Inoculate logs within three weeks of cutting the tree. Old wood may be too dry or become infected with other fungi.

About the Author

 

James Young began writing in 1969 as a military journalist combat correspondent in Vietnam. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," Sonar 4 ezine, "Stars & Stripes" and "Fine Woodworking." He has worked as a foundryman, woodturner, electronics technician, herb farmer and woodcarver. Young graduated from North Seattle Community College with an associate degree in applied science and electronic technology.