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!
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.
This is what you want your Shiitake to look like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkbSXoz5ng8