I didn't see this question asked; hope I'm not asking an old chestnut!
The utility company is cutting down mature trees on our property this February. Some of them are hardwoods that might be good for growing mushrooms - oak, maple, and beech or alder I think.
The cutting methods are not ideal; they will be limbing and felling the trees, and leaving trunks in very long lengths. If I am able to manage it, I would be chainsawing that into smaller logs for mushroom culture. So the logs will not be super clean.
We are in zone 6, last frost date is mid-May, although in practice much earlier. I'd like to try King Stropharia or Shiitake - since it sounds like buttons/portobellos are too finicky? As may be obvious, I've never grown mushrooms before.
Given this timeframe, which option is better: Inoculate newly cut logs in the cold, or store logs until the weather warms up? I could store them enclosed in a tarp on the ground, but not much better than that. Would plug spawn inoculation have a good chance of success? It would be a lot of work, so I will postpone fungal adventures if not.
Alternatively, would inoculating piles of hardwood chips work any better? I don't have any homemade spawn bubbling away in advance, but maybe I could start some?
Hi Bee! Last year I tried plugging shiitake for the first time. We cut the oak in late winter and then it snowed 3'. It took us over a month to get back to the oak and get it out. It was on the ground that whole time. I called Field and Forest and they said not to worry as long as it was cold. We then set the logs on pallets until a nice day to plug. That was still before things were really thawing out.
No mushrooms this year so I'm not sure yet if we did it right or wrong. But I think as long as the logs are frozen, there's no need to get started plugging early. If you tarp them, I'd only put a tarp on top of them, not enclose them for fear of moisture or other problems.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
Hi, last year a friend gave me a bunch of used shiitake tubes to feed to the chickens and spread around the farm in February. In the spring I had mycelium in logs and mulch where I seeded it. It also was in the straw I used for chicken bedding. It was quite cold here in northeast Ohio. By fall I had a few mushrooms growing out of some maple logs that were water logged for a hügelkultur project. It accidently worked for me.
The best place to pray for a good crop is at the end of a hoe!
hau Bee, As Mike mentioned, hold off on plugging logs until the last frost has come and gone, otherwise the spawn will not move and it might even die from the inability to get established in the cambium layer before winter hits again.
Logs can be washed off and set up off the soil, what you are trying to do is prevent contamination by un-wanted spores or mycelium before you can inoculate your logs.
As long as the weather is below or near 0 c, mycelium will not spread much at all and spores are dormant at these temps.
Depending on how many plugs are used in relation to the size of the log and the type of mushroom being grown, it can take as long as two years for fruits (the mushrooms) to appear (flush), normal time is around 16 months but that too is dependent upon how fast the log is fully occupied by the mycelium.
fruits appear once the log is fully occupied by the mycelium and they can flush for around 2 years before you need to create new logs by using mycelium from your spent logs to continue the strain.
Thanks for all the feedback, everyone! It's helpful to hear about what has, or hasn't, worked for others. We found out that the tree contractor will cut the massive trunks into more manageable lengths, so that's a big help. And it turns out a couple of those beeches, are actually birches, now that I look more closely.
So, I could store the logs on a pallet or similar, draped with a tarp, until the weather is consistently above... 40 at night?
To inoculate hardwood chips, could I just spread in a raised bed format or mound, and inoculate with sawdust spawn? Sounds like they will start to decompose after a couple of years, hopefully fruiting some edible mushrooms on the way, and then the chips can become garden beds? Is this a challenging environment for edible fungi (to outcompete wild fungi?)
Or, if in some areas the goal is simply to break down the wood chips into soil, I could just let random fungal spores colonize at will... or "lazy inoculate" with soil from around the slain oak, maple trees? Heard that fascinating idea from the Mycorrhizal Fungi Bomb post.... So much great info on this site!
Yes you could store the logs, just go ahead and wax the cut ends then wet down and drape the tarp over them, you are looking for anything above 38 f temp wise for the low temp.
hardwood chips work very well but you want them to be around 4 inches thick for mushroom fruits. That gives the mycelium plenty of space to grow so you will get several years of fruiting from your spawn.
You can even use chips in bags then, when those are spent, use them to inoculate more chips.
If all you want is mycelium to decompose wood chips, nature will be happy to provide you plenty of spores, just keep the chips moist.