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Is it too late to cut trees for mushroom logs?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 18
Location: Skagit County, WA
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Howdy,

I have a few large maple trees that need to come down and I was thinking to use as much wood as possible for mushroom logs. However further reading indicates that I really should have cut the wood before bud break. Can anybody comment on success with inoculating logs (especially maples) that were cut later in the spring?

The tree needs to come down this year regardless (it's shading the whole front yard and greenhouse by about 3pm) and I'm just trying to find the best use for it. I'd love mushroom logs but don't want to go to the expense and trouble if it's doomed to failure.
 
pollinator
Posts: 585
Location: Southern Illinois
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Ashley,

If you want to grow mushrooms I say just go for it.  Perhaps your wood is not at its absolute prime for inoculation, but then in nature things rarely happen at the absolute perfect time.

If you are trying mushrooms for the very first time, I would give serious thought to growing wine caps as they are fairly bulletproof and are good for first time mushroom growers.

I have just grown my first crop of wine caps on some mulch I chipped up from woody trees & shrubs on my land.  It took a year with little apparently happening, but starting about a month ago my mushrooms grew explosively.  I did make a number of mistakes and I angsted over over the last few months as to why I had not seen any mushrooms, but all I needed was more patience.

If you want a mushroom log, put it in a nicely shaded spot.  Alternatively you could chip up the log and spread the chips on the ground and then inoculate.

I have found growing mushrooms very satisfying experience.  If you are still interested, I say go for it.  And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask for help.

I hope this is helpful,

Eric
 
ashley bee
Posts: 18
Location: Skagit County, WA
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Thanks Eric, I appreciate the reminder that we rarely have ideal circumstances, but I was really hoping to figure out why nobody recommended using wood cut in the spring - and I think I've finally found it!

This link: http://ncforestry.info/ncces/woodland_owner_notes/20/

"Trees should be cut while they are dormant, preferably in the late winter or early spring before bud break, for two important reasons. First, the shiitake mycelium requires carbohydrates for growth, and carbohydrates in the wood are at their highest levels when the tree is dormant. Second, the bark of the logs must be intact and must adhere to the logs well. If the trees are cut after the sap begins to flow in the spring, the bark will have a tendency to "slip" and can be damaged easily."

Aha! That last little tidbit about sap flow and bark slippage was new to me and makes a lot of sense. So I'll check a few limbs and if they aren't too slippery yet assume that they'll make good mushroom logs, and if they are super slippery I might still try a few but I'll know not to invest too much time/money in it (or just find a different use for the wood).

I do hope to try a garden giant patch someday, but without a chipper on hand my best bet is the inoculated logs for now. Perhaps I can be careful to collect the chips and sawdust from this felling and make a little patch!
 
Eric Hanson
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Posts: 585
Location: Southern Illinois
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Ashley,

Glad you found out your answer.  Personally, shiitake are not my favorite—they give me an unpleasant aftertastes.  But if you like them, then go for it!

By the way, I don’t own a chipper either, I rent one twice a year and it costs a lot less than buying the type of chipper I need.

Just to reiterate, wine caps are a great way to get started on mushrooms.  From what I understand, shiitake’s are a bit more difficult to cultivate, but then again, if this is what you really want, then I say again, Go for it!

Eric
 
ashley bee
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I do love Shitake but you aren't the first person I've heard comment on an after taste, I must be missing a few taste buds hah.

I probably should have clarified I've been growing mushrooms in closet/basement grow bags for years, this is just my first time with outdoor cultivation. I've also been debating about rent/buy for wood chips and chippers, if anybody ends up here in the future there is a thread I started about it and another thread I'll link below. It seems like every option can work well it just depends on personal preference and what things cost in your area.

https://permies.com/t/111172/buy-wood-chipper-wood-chips
https://permies.com/t/63272/Wood-chipper-advice
 
pollinator
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Hi Ashley,

Use the chips form the removal for wine caps, and the logs for shitake. If the trees are of decent size, I'm guessing you'll have enough logs for other types of culinary mushrooms as well.

Regarding renting or buying a wood chipper, will depend on your ability to properly maintain the chipper. It also depends on your budget to buy verses rent. You can rent a professional grade chipper, for several days with your proposed budget, which could yeild over 60 yards of chips in professional settings with the crew and wood to efficiently feed it. Any chipper you would buy for that same price most likely wouldn’t be of professional quality grade, or in good condition, though you might find one that goes on your tractor pto, and works ok. So knowibg the size material you need to chip, and shopping around is the best answer to your question.

The feed intake which determines the size wood or brush you can efficiently chip, will let you know if it will be efficient to use for your circumstances. The biger the feed intake the less work to prepare material for chipping. From a professional standpoint, small feed intakes aren't worth it, unless your only dealing with small uniform material. So looking at the wood, brush and braches you have; then the work you must do to make them small and unifomed, plus the extra effort to feed all those smaller peices individually, will give you an idea of the efficiency based on your smaller feed intake. Even with a 3" feed intake, a 1 inch twisted branch can get hung up easily, plus any lateral limbs coming off the branch, create resistance that can make feeding impossible with out stripping the branch. In tree service work, the most sought after are large professional grade chippers that will take a 15-16" log whole, or a 12 inch tree whole, with minimal processing to reduce feed jams.  

Chippers require proper machining to sharpen the blades while keeping them in balance. The blades also need replaced after so many sharpenings. The bed knife needs adjusted to spec, as your knifes get machined down after sharpening. They also need greased and properly maintaing like any piece of machinery. So how often you plan on using the chipper, the material you plan on chipping, the cost of maintenence, what type of chipper you can afford, and how much work you're willing to do prepping material to chip, will all be factors you must quantify, to determine what will be right for your situation.

Hope that helps! Best wishes!
 
steward
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I have adopted the lifestyle that it's better to do something wrong today, than it is to wait until the Internet says it's the right time. It was only yesterday that I planted Shitake onto fresh logs. I planted them just before a week or more of rain is expected. In my climate, moisture is much more important to mushrooms than carbohydrates, or bark. I expect them to grow wonderfully.






 
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Ashley I have had shiitake mushrooms growing in my logs for at least 7 years and I cut them kind of late in the spring. I'm no expert by far but something I learned this year from Maple sap that  I think is relevant to mushroom logs is that the sap has a lot of sugar when its starting to flow,Feb. and March, but when it starts to bud out the sap becomes starchy to feed the buds, both are carbohydrates but maybe the fungi like the sugar content better. Or maybe I'm just thinking circles around myself and getting nowhere, but that's my thoughts. The sugar probably turns to starch anyway after you cut it.

The slipping bark idea makes a lot of sense too. Here is a video from my channel on my shiitake logs if you care to view it. https://youtu.be/jlOKMbIugLQ
 
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