I live in Vermont and would like to start some oyster on poplar logs. I have found logs to glean, and wonder if I can innoculate now (plug spawn) or if it would be better to wait until early spring? I have read that oysters can grow at temperatures as low as 35* F. My preference for doing it now is that the logs are already down and fresh, and I have the time now, whereas in spring I tend to be busier.
if it's going to get real cold pretty soon, I would wait. if you've got some place warm-ish to keep them, like a garage or greenhouse, then I would say go for it now. the mycelium might grow at low temps, but it won't grow fast so your risk of infection and failure is a lot higher.
If you have room, you might try innoculating the logs and then putting them in a large cardboard box in your house or heated garage. You then cover the logs in the box with real fresh, clean sawdust and then cover the top with plastic sheeting. About 60-70 degrees is about perfect, and this method eliminates contamination and drying- which are the 2 biggest enemies of log culture growers. If you must wait till spring, be sure to keep the logs in a clean and cool environment away from sunlight, wind, rain, insects or dirt and where they will not lose any moisture- this is important. Using real fresh, fluffy, made-to-order spawn is also important. Old spawn that's been sitting in the fridge for 6 months usually sucks. Good luck!
Thank you both for the ideas. I will try to find an indoor space, otherwise I will wait until spring.
Peachlovingman, I am wondering about the reason for keeping the logs out of the rain if I were to wait to inoculate? I currently have them stored on the north side of the house on top of a snow bank. I think I will move them onto a palette to keep them from contact with the soil.
The reason for keeping the uninnoculated logs out of the wind and rain (and away from the elements) is to lessen the chances of contamination by bacteria, spores and bugs. A cool (40 degrees), sheltered and clean "ambient" environment that has a moist atmosphere, but is away from any extremes in moisture or temperature would be the ideal place for winter log storage. But keeping the logs in the rain is actually better than letting them dry out (such as in an electrically heated 70 degree room). Winter is a good time to read books about cultivation and to order spawn that will arrive fresh for spring innocuation. I always recommend the cultivation books by Paul Stamets and the spawn from Field and Forest Products (fieldforest.net). Their free paper catalog has lots of info that is not on their online catalog. They also have lots of strains and species of oyster mushrooms to choose from. I've always had good results from their spawn.
I will have to make due with our regular Vermont outdoor weather for storage, but I can keep the logs out of the sun, keep them from drying out, etc. Not much I can do about insects, but there aren't many around now.
I have decided to do the oysters indoors on one or two logs, with the method you describe in a cardboard box with clean sawdust (or maybe wood chips?) In the spring I will start more logs if they seem like they are in okay condition. I was thinking that I would take sections from the middle and use the ends of the log for firewood, as that seems to be the most likely place for contamination to enter.
I ordered Growing Gourmet and Medical Mushrooms by Stamets and will read that over the winter.
I have already discovered Field and Forest, and grew out their Stropharia spawn in the garden this year. I am very happy with their quality and willingness to answer questions.
One source I read indicates ideal temperature for spawn run is about 68 degrees F. Does that seem right to you for indoor growing?
You are very welcome. I really enjoy helping other mushroom growers and I want them to succeed. 68 degrees is just about a perfect temperature for an indoor spawn run for most mushroom species including Pleurotus ostreatus, but you might want to check out the book by Stamets or the exact temperature parameters of your strain in the spawn catalog. If you must use wood chips for the box, be sure they are super clean and fresh- like the kind they use for paper making. Donot use chips that are old, dirty, decomposed or that are mixed with needles or leaves!!! I always use fresh oak and maple shavings/sawdust direct from a nearby hardwood sawmill/ furniture maker to cover my innoculated log boxes. (This stuff is always real clean and has had zero exposure to dirt, rain or outside air.) Then I place a clear plastic sheet on top. This method keeps moisture in and keeps contaminants out. I've had a 100% success rate with this method- something I can't say for my outdoor mushroom log spawn runs!
Paul Stamets recommends low-temperature inoculation of both straw and wood chips in his book Mycelium Running. He notes that mushroom spawn can out-compete molds at lower temperatures in the 35F to 45F degree range. (My own experience growing mushrooms backs this up. Some species of mushrooms REALLY like cold temps, like Flammulina velutipes.)
It's better to inoculate fresh logs immediately, before other species of molds and fungi have a chance to take over.
In Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms, Stamets recommends inoculating logs in February and March in North America.
Discussions with other growers at mycological meetings revealed many different preferences for best time of the year. Several growers had come to believe that there is no "best" time of the year - their results were basically the same no matter when they inoculated their logs.
Plug spawn is cheap. Logs are cheap. Even failed experiments are worth undertaking.
Sue Jones wrote:I live in Vermont and would like to start some oyster on poplar logs. I have found logs to glean, and wonder if I can innoculate now (plug spawn) or if it would be better to wait until early spring? I have read that oysters can grow at temperatures as low as 35* F. My preference for doing it now is that the logs are already down and fresh, and I have the time now, whereas in spring I tend to be busier.
I welcome any comments or thoughts. Thanks.
It's better to inoculate the logs when their fresh, if not then you may leave them in water for few days. But inoculation should be done late autumn or in early spring as you said