Welcome to the Mid-Hudson Mycological AssociationJoin us on a walk — Get to know us — become a member… A request for articles and other contributions to the club 5-14-2014
Sharing the Wealth, Growing Mushrooms
Although I don’t consider myself an expert by any means, I decided to host a log inoculation workshop for our club this year. It was a labor intensive journey, but involved a lot of the things that I like to do, working in the woods, working with mushrooms and sharing a common interest with others.
My first experience with Shiitakes was in the spring of 2011 at a MHMA workshop. I inoculated 2 logs. 2011 was a wet summer and that fall I was able to admire, photograph, harvest and eat some beautiful shiitakes. With my interest sparked, I inoculated about 20 logs in the spring of 2012. While dealing with some personal health issues, I didn’t do any extra watering or really pay much attention during the next couple summers and I only got a few mushrooms. The spring and early summer of 2014 was wetter and I watered often during middle and later part of summer when things got dry. Success came in September 2014 when I forced a fruiting. I soaked 3 batches of logs in as many days in a 55 gallon drum and the following week I was awash in Shiitakes. I ate them, dried them and gave them to friends. With this background I thought it would be a good idea to host a workshop.
At a February club meeting, I floated the log inoculation idea with a cost of $6.00 per 100 plugs and 8 people signed up that night. Ultimately 25 people signed up, mostly for batches of a hundred shiitake or a hundred Lion’s Manes plugs or both. Then came the planning, how many extra plugs should I order? How much wood will we need? What are the necessary tools and where can we do this work with a lot of people. I ended up ordering 3000 shiitake plugs and 2000 Lion’s Mane plugs along with 10 pounds of sealing wax, wax daubers, metal tags for marking the logs with species and inoculation date and 5 pounds of sawdust inoculated with Lion’s Mane mycelium. Most people brought a drill, drill bit, cans for melting wax and wax brushes.
One of my favorite parts was working in the woods getting the logs or bolts as they are called. With requests for 36 bolts, I figured I would need at least twice that. I selected several oak trees from a silvacultural perspective. The snow was deep this year and I dropped the trees so that the middle of the crowns landed in the logging road where I could work. Then limb by limb, marking and cutting 3 foot sections of 3 to 7 inch diameter limbs, I loaded them up on the pickup and piled them the deep snow in the pines to maintain moisture levels. A week or so before the workshop, I moved the bolts to a spot behind the garage which was out of the sun. That would have worked out well if the weather cooperated. With the forecast calling for below freezing temperatures and 15 mph winds, we decided a couple days before that the original idea of doing everything outside was a bad idea, so we moved into the garage. Several days before, I moved the frozen logs into the garage so that they would thaw before the workshop. We brought in benches and chairs, a picnic table, several recently built log cradles and lots of extension cords and power strips.
By 10 AM we had a full house. People had their logs and for the next couple hours we drilled, pounded plugs, melted wax to wax over plugs and log ends and tagged the inoculated bolts with permanent metal tags. The extra plugs came in handy as many people wanted to do more inoculation. In all we used almost 4000 plugs and over 50 logs that day. One of the highlights was the totem method demonstration by John Micholetti. We cut an 8 inch diameter sugar maple log into 2 one-foot sections with 2 inch log cookies on each end. John buttered about a quarter inch layer of Lion’s Mane inoculated sawdust spawn into each cut. This assembly was fastened together with thin wood strips nailed to the sides and the whole assembly was wrapped in a black plastic garbage bag. We hope to see good colonization and some Lion’s Mane mushrooms this fall or if not maybe next fall.
Lunch provided a great break from the morning’s work in the cold garage. Carol didn’t disappoint and served an awesome venison pot roast and vegetable lasagna. This was complimented by all the other great food brought along by the group. The feasting and socializing extended into the afternoon after which everyone went on their merry ways with a full belly and an arm full of hopes for mushrooms to come. I hope they all find a good home and fruit heavily in the years to come.
For more information on growing mushrooms see: