I made my first shitake logs a few days ago with oak. Now the long wait. My question, should I cover the logs for moisture retention or leave them open? The are in a wooded area so not much on the direct sun light side of things. Also what is the best option to stack them on to keep them off the dirt?
I would put the logs in a log-cabin style arrangement on top of a pallet out of the sun (either under tree cover or under shade cloth). Do not pack the logs too tight.. you don't want mold to develop. In the hotter/dryer months water the logs down with a sprinkler or soak in a tank/pond. This wonderful PDF from Cornell will likely answer any other questions you may have about caring for your logs.
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It's certainly more of an art than a science. If your weather is humid and you get regular rain, you may not have to worry so much about the logs drying out. But as summer comes and things dry out, you'll want to give the logs a misting once or twice a week. Non-chlorinated water is best, so if your log stack isn't too large, just filling a watering can for a day and letting the chlorine gas-off for a day, before you give the logs a light sprinkle may be all you need to do.
Some people employ mist'ers on a timer—they go off regularly and keep things evenly moist. Some people cover their logs with a tarp or other cover, while others say that that invites mold and keeps nice rainwater from wetting them.
It's not that much different from potted plants. Too wet, and you'll have to deal with waterlogged roots and other problems. Too dry, and they will shrivel up. You learn to just feel the soil and "know" what the plant needs. If you get 3 really hot dry days, you'll need to give your logs a drink. But if it's a cool, cloudy spring month, you might not need to give them water for weeks. Mess around and learn. Learn to read your logs. Experiment a bit, keeping some on the drier side, and others on the wet side. In the end, if you've got good spawn and innoculated your logs well, you'll get schrooms.
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