We are planning on using wood dowel plugs to innoculate some alder logs. We have shitake and oyster plugs coming. 300 of each. We live on central Vancouver Island. Zone 7-b. Pretty heavy rainfall in the winter, and dry summer. Little snow, we get light frost, but few days of heavy freezing.
So my qustions:
1. When would be the best time of year to innoculate the logs?
2. When would be the best time to cut the logs(we have an acre of live alder so finding wood isn't a problem)?
Anything else you can think of to give us a starting point. Thanks for any advice:) Blayne.
For optimal yields, it is best to cut the fresh logs in the early spring, after the last frost, when the sugar content of the sap is the highest (Early March in most places). Try to avoid logs that have already been colonized by some other mold or fungus. "Logs should be cut to lengths of 3–4 feet, and are best if they do not exceed approximately 8 inches in diameter" to quote Paul Stamets.
The logs should be immediately placed on saw horses or pallets and kept off the ground to discourage undesirable competing nativemushrooms from colonizing the wood. You can also sacrifice two logs that can stand in for the saw horses/pallet (but these are not meant to be innoculated, to be clear). The logs should be left like this for 3 weeks to allow the natural anti-fungal properties within the wood to dissipate. Now the logs are ready for innoculation. For higher success rates, paint heated liquidy natural beeswax onto the holes once you've inserted the plugs.
We don't live in the same climate, but this topic was apropos to me. I just ordered my plug spawn from fungi perfecti and inoculated my oak logs today. (2 of 4 species compete today)
I live in North Texas, and we've had a shitload of rain in the last 4 days!
I ordered shiitake, pearl oyster, blue oyster, and I wanted to try lion's mane. FP had a special discount ~ 34% off order if I ordered 3 or more bags. 100 count.
I've never grown food mushrooms before, although I may have experience growing another species of mushrooms.
I chose to inoculate now, because: 1) I was excited about getting it done. 2) I had a little extra $$ to go ahead and place my order now. 3) The nice lady at FP said I could inoculate now, so long as I give the spawn at least 30 days before a hard freeze. In North Texas, that's no problem this time of year. Unless a freak storm blows through, we probably won't have a hard freeze until Jan/Feb.
Now that I've received the plugs, and read the instructions thoroughly, I may not have been as rigorous about sanitation as I should have been. I got the cut oak logs from my dad's place in Muskogee, OK and the logs have been piled up in my yard for a long time now. I didn't realize I needed to keep them up off the ground. I did see some native mycelial growth, but not too deep. At least, that's my hope. Also, I didn't have food grade wax. I just used some candles that I bought from Wal-Mart. Paraffin wax, no doubt, but it was all I had, and I couldn't justify spending the extra money on beeswax. Also, the instructions, as I read later, indicated that I needed to wax the end cap of the logs. I didn't do that.
It's a pretty labor intensive process; I ran out of time today. By the time I got two species of plugs done (200 plugs; 4 logs) I ran out of time.
I'm hopeful that the spawn will inoculate the logs and overcome any deficiencies in my processes.
Yes, in milder climates like yours and mine, cutting and inoculating in spring is not so crucial. I think our winters are way more similar than our summers. I am so amazingly busy in March that the idea of adding an extremely labor intensive activity at that time doesn't make sense. There is less going on for me right now in terms of baseball, fun outdoor sports, and the garden, so now is way better for me. Likewise, if it gets down below 20 F, I will bring in the few logs that are newly inoculated. Logs from previous years are ok. Shiitake and pearl/blue oyster are plenty hardy. It gives me something practical and useful to do in a slow part of the year.