I grew a nice patch of Pearl Oyster last season and I learned a lot. I am going to continue to grow the Oyster mushroom, but I am also going to start a patch of Shiitake and King Stropharia. I was hoping there were some folks with some tips on distancing, inoculation rates, or any other pointers.
When you say "patch", do you mean pre-inoculated kits that have been placed outside for more production, or do you mean outdoor wood chip beds that you've inoculated with mushroom spawn yourself?
In general, shiitake does not grow well on outdoor wood chip beds, because the mycelium is too weak to overcome competition from other species. I suggest growing shiitake on freshly-cut hardwood logs (especially oak) and after completing an indoor spawn run in bags or huge boxes, placing the logs outside in the shade of an orchard for soaking and fruiting. I have excellent results with this technique.
King stropharia is an great species to grow outside in "patches". A ratio of 1 to 5 (spawn to fresh hardwood chips/sawdust) is good for beginner cultivators. Do not use old or dried out chips. In late winter, I like to inoculate fresh hardwood chips/sawdust in boxes or large plastic bags at a ratio of about 1 to 10 (spawn to chips/sawdust). After a temperature-controlled indoor spawn run at about 60 - 70 degrees, I then inoculate beds outside at a ratio of 1 to 5 (spawn to chips/sawdust). (This indoor spawn run technique can give me a lot more mushrooms by multiplying my spawn tenfold before I begin the outdoor inoculations in mid-spring.) For faster fruiting, I just bury the entire box from the indoor spawn run outside into a shadey area. King stropharia begins fruiting in July with this method.
I always try to keep my oyster and king stropharia patches separate. (I 'm not into substrate "sequencing", although this might work for some people.) Mulching your orchard/food forest with king stropharia in wood chips is another method I recommend. I hope all this advice helps!
When I said "patch", I meant a wood chip bed that I have inoculated. Thank you for the reply, it does help. I was planning on doing an indoor run very soon and that is what has sparked my curiosity. I love the Pearl Oyster...I ended up with a patch about 6'x6'x6" and I started with only 3 plug spawn dowels. The King Stropharia and Shiitake are new for me. I read some more on the King Stropharia in Stamets' books and found that they really become prolific with disturbance. As for the Shiitake, I was not aware of its inability to thrive outdoors. The spawn I bought is from Fungi Perfecti and it is sawdust. I thought it was for an outdoor patch and I didn't think about the fact that it is probably used for inoculating logs...that's okay, I can do that too!
Brent, shiitake are grown indoors and outdoors. They fruit perfectly fine off of sawdust cakes indoors (search "shiitake pf cakes"), as well as logs. For some reason they do not fruit well off of wood chips according to Paul Stamets in his book "The Mushroom Cultivator". To me, mushrooms are one of the most exciting things to grow and I hope you enjoy the projects as much as I do mine!
Brent, I use shiitake sawdust spawn to inoculate logs using the "spawn disc method", in which the spawn is applied to the cut ends of the logs and then wax paper and tin foil "socks" are wrapped and crinkled over and around the spawn. Then rubber bands are tightened over the foil to hold the spawn in place. I also cut slots up and down the sides of the logs, insert spawn, and cover with wax paper and then tin foil. Then I tighten more rubber bands over the spawn/paper/foil to hold everything in place. I then place the logs in big plastic bags in a closet at 60-70 degrees, I've also used a method where the inoculated logs are placed in huge cardboard boxes in an unused room, then covered with clean sawdust. With these indoor spawn methods I've had a 100% success rate without any contaminants. (Except ants! Yow..) With shiitake cultivation, outdoor spawn runs with logs are best done with dowel spawn and wax, as the wooden dowels are more resistant to weather fluctuations, sowbugs, insects and contaminant molds than the sawdust spawn.
Bobby Eshleman wrote:Brent, shiitake are grown indoors and outdoors. They fruit perfectly fine off of sawdust cakes indoors (search "shiitake pf cakes"), as well as logs. For some reason they do not fruit well off of wood chips according to Paul Stamets in his book "The Mushroom Cultivator". To me, mushrooms are one of the most exciting things to grow and I hope you enjoy the projects as much as I do mine!
Bobby is correct. My guess is that from a "patch" the mushrooms would be more crowded. You get bigger fruiting bodies directly proportional to the VOLUME inoculated and inversely proportional to the SURFACE AREA exposed. In other words, maximize volume and minimize surface area for best yields. Also, placing patches in the woods will provide more oxygen to the mushrooms resulting in shorter stems and bigger caps.
Bobby and Stewart are also correct in stating that shiitake can be grown on sawdust blocks/cakes indoors, but I didn't mention this as most people won't have an autoclave or large pressure cooker to sterilize the sawdust/bran blocks before inoculation. In fact, this is the most popular and economical method for large scale commercial shiitake growers. (Logs are better for small time growers who lack autoclaves or even big pressure cookers. (Like me.) Good luck and keep us updated!
I agreee with the above posts. Keep tree oyster away from other outdoor patches,due to their highly aggressive nature. Others that have fruited in wood chip patches are Elm oyster (hypsizygus ulmarius), blewit (lepista nuda) and pioppino (agrocybe aer - something). Depending on your climate, the others should work for you as well.