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Beginner mushroom log advice  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: West Tennessee
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I hope some experienced mushroom growers can offer some advice. I'm new to growing mushrooms. I purchased some plugs online to inoculate some hardwood logs. I understand the whole inoculation process of drilling, plugging, bees wax, then the shady area and don't let them dry out.

Yesterday I went and cut some oak logs from a tree that came down in a storm a year ago, but half of it was still alive and had foliage on it last year and buds on it this winter. That living wood is what I cut.

In my instructions it says store in fridge until ready to use and do not freeze the plugs. I think this means don't put them in the freezer, but it's 17°F outside and I want to inoculate my logs and put them out in the woods. Is letting the new plugs in the new logs freeze outdoors ok?

Also, two of the logs I cut appear to have some spalting in them. Are these ok to use?
 
pollinator
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I have never been succesful. I have tried twice over the last 5 years.

Fresh cut has more sugars, thats all i know.

Subscribing.....
 
pollinator
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James,

First, I am hoping someone more experienced chimes in. But against the odds I have been very successful with logs (normally I screw up projects to learn how to do them, this was a rare WOW!)

My take is that any tree that is partly dead is likely to be already colonized into the area that still looks alive. It takes very little cambium to keep some leaves, but there may be extensive decay already. This is very likely to contaminate your logs. Fresh windfall tree is fine, but beware anything that has a large dead area. You mentioned the spalting, which is macroscopic colonization. It can be much more extensive, especially longitudinally (less circumferentially). Anything lying on the ground I would presume contaminated.

Second, I would inoculate when the log is not going to freeze completely for at least a few weeks. Surface freezes are fine. The fungi survive freezing once established in nature but the spawn is more sensitive which is why it isn't shipped frozen. It would probably work but you want the spawn to vigorously outcompete other fungi, which means it needs to get a foothold. Lower active spawn count might be a problem. I think you could do pegs any time in my climate, but again, you will introduce contaminants and if the whole depth of the peg freezes it would be more risky. I think the main issue is not so much the temperature but the shifting humidity during freeze/thaw cycles as water sublimates out of the wood. It's really hard to keep the logs moist with a lot of freeze and thaw, partly because my hoses are turned off and because I am not out there as much remembering to do it.

It is so much work to inoculate, I am really OCD about it. The only logs I inoculate are fresh cut, off the ground as much as possible (I often fell the tree and limb from the skinny side, taking the logs without them ever touching the ground), and then stacked on the cement patio and inoculated 1-2 weeks later. I have heard this allows some degradation of the antifungal compounds but I really don't know. I would err on the side of early rather than late inoculation. I have been sealing the ends, but I did an unintentional test by forgetting to seal two of them and they did fine. Probably won't bother anymore. Then I stack the logs on the patio in the shade and water them every day for the first week if it is dry weather, then maybe 3 times a week the next couple weeks. By then I am distracted by some other project and forget to wet them unless it is really dry and I am watering other stuff but it is generally pretty moist here. After a couple months I half bury them in dirt and put some wood chips around them. So far batting 1.000. I also really put a lot of spawn in the logs, normally 6-8" longitudinal and 4" circumferential spacing.

That being said this is only oyster and shiitake so far.  Humidity is the key I suspect. Sealing is really just a way of maintaining internal moisture, I don't think it really prevents contaminants with aggressive strains. With more difficult strains it really might be important.
 
Tj Jefferson
pollinator
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Also, I think the timing of inoculation based on the sugar content is interesting. I think it must just be helpful to activate the spawn, because these are lignin feeders, and the lignin component doesn't change during the year. I have mentioned my technique of ringing the cambium the year before I cut the trees and trapping the sugars in the trunk and branches. It takes very little time.
 
gardener
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hau James, To get really good logs going you want to cut living wood and set it up off the ground (I use 3 foot minimum from ground to logs) to let it dry for 3 weeks, then you drill, plug and wax all the holes and both ends. Rick the finished logs (again up off the ground).
Use a rain head plant water wand to completely wet the logs, and you want to store them where they will be in the most shade you have, check them every day the first week to make sure they are well moistened from that time you can check weekly in most areas.
The waxing is important from a how hot stand point, you want the wax hot enough to flow into the bark and stick but not so hot as to kill your spawn loaded plugs. (If you can dip your finger in (I find 100 f is really good) with out burning immediately it is just right, work fast or keep the temp right there.

I like to bore my holes so the dowels are just below the surface of the deepest bark crease, this keeps the spawn in the sweet spot but allows me to get a great wax seal.
Waxing the ends is really  important, you can actually use hotter wax on them to make sure the wood is sealed against any floating spores. ( I do the ends first then I bore and plug)

When your first set of logs is spent, don't discard them, that wood is full of mycelium and can be used to start more logs.

Redhawk

I also like to have a cover that I can set over the logs if there is going to be a storm, I use some 4 ft. wide aluminum roofing for this, I have a frame around my log ricks so I can screw the cover in place and remove it easily, or you can just leave it there as long as it isn't touching your logs.
 
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