Do you have a shady area in your yard that you wish you could grow some food in? Well, not every crop craves sun the way most due. Get yourself some hardwood logs and spore dowels and you could be growing delicious and valuable shiitake mushrooms for years to come. Here are some tips to get you started.
First, you will need to get spore dowels or plugs. There are plenty of retailers online that carry them it shouldn’t be too difficult to find some with good reviews. You will also need to collect some fresh cut hardwood logs to put your plugs in. Oak is the best, but other hardwoods will work if you just can’t get your hands on oak.
Then, soak your logs in water for 24 hours. After they have absorbed all the water they can, take them out and start drilling the holes that you will fill with your spore dowels. Place the holes 6 inches apart from each other in a straight line. Depending on the size of you log you can make several lines of holes, but make sure that you alternate the spacing, so that your next line of holes start in between the first holes, not directly below them.
Then, fill the holes with the spore dowels. Make sure that they are a little bit below the surface of the log and not flush with it.
Next, seal the dowels in order to protect them from competing fungi. This can be done with bee’s wax. You can either melt some in a pan or use a candle.
After you have sealed the dowels in the log all you have to do is stack them. You can make a log cabin pattern, or an “A” frame. The logs are stacked mainly to keep them off the ground to again reduce the chances of contamination with competitive fungi.
Keep your logs from drying out. They should produce mushrooms for you in six months, and then every spring and fall for years to come, basically until the logs completely fall apart.
Harvest the mushrooms when about 2/3 of the gills are visible.
Don’t see your shade as a limitation for sun loving crops, but rather an opportunity to grow something a little different.
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