Mushroom Cultivation with Sawdust Spawn
What type of wood should I use?
Excellent- Red and White Oak, Sugar Maple
Very Good- Beech, Ironwood, Musclewood
Good- Black and Yellow Birch, Hickory, Red Maple
Bad (Except for Oysters)- Soft Hardwoods like Poplar Aspen etc.
Bad- White Ash, Elm, Fruit Wood
Unknown- Other Hardwood Species (experiment!)
Only freshly cut disease-free wood should be used. Old or rotting wood should be avoided as it will likely contain contaminant fungi or be too dry to support mushroom growth. After cutting the wood the sooner you can inoculate the log the better though you can wait up to 4 weeks after cutting before inoculating the log. During the winter months the inoculation window can be extended for several months by covering freshly cut wood with snow to maintain moisture until you are ready to inoculate in early spring.
When should I cut my logs?
It is best to fell your trees during the early spring or winter (the dormant season) and as close to the anticipated time of inoculation as possible. The worst time to cut your logs is during the tree’s budding-out period. When the leaves are developing the bark on the tree is particularly weak and susceptible to damage. Although considered less ideal by some growers trees can be cut during the summer months after the trees have leafed out and into early fall.
Works best with the Log Method. It will take at least 12 months of colonization before producing mushrooms and tends to fruit in the Summer through the Fall after rainfalls.
Preferred wood species are Oak, Maple, or Beech.
Works well with the Log, Stump, and Totem methods. Colonization is fast and should start producing in 4-12 months. They fruit best in the Spring and Fall and prefer softer hardwoods such as Poplar and Birch. Though they will also work on Maple or Oak.
Similar to the Grey Oyster. Prefers Log, Stump, and Totem methods. Colonization is fast and should start producing in 4-12 months. Golden Oyster is a tropical species and prefers to fruit in the summer months. They also prefer softer hardwoods such as Poplar and Birch.
Prefers the Totem Method, though works with Log or Stump Methods. Colonization is 12-24 months and fruits in the Fall. Prefers Maple.
Chickens prefer very large Logs or Stumps. They are the slowest colonizers at 16-24 months. They can fruit through the Summer and Fall and prefer hard woods such as Oak or Maple.
Reishi likes any of the three methods. Colonizes in 12-24 months. Prefers Oak and fruits in the Summer.
Only open your spawn bag when you are ready to use it! Opening it prematurely will increase the risk of it molding.
It is not ideal to use spawn for more than one inoculation day.
- Cut living tree trunks or large branches into 3-4' lengths.
- Drill holes in an equally spaced diamond pattern around the entire log. Drill holes 6'' apart, about 1'' deep, in a row running the entire length of the log. Move about 2-3'' around the log and drill another row, with the holes 3'' offset, creating a diamond pattern. Repeat, drilling a row of holes down the length of the log, around the entire log. It's okay if the rows are a little uneven. For sawdust spawn use a 7/16'' bit (12mm).
- Inoculate each hole. For sawdust spawn, tightly pack sawdust into the inoculation tool and inject the spawn into each 7/16'' diameter hole, completely filling the hole.
- Cover each hole with melted wax using a brush, wax dauber, paintbrush or rag. Eventually, after the log is colonized, wax will flake off. Beeswax or food-grade paraffin work well. Using a crockpot is a great way of keeping the wax melted while applying it to your logs.
- Incubate logs in a shady place, close to the forest floor but not in contact with soil or leaf litter. Lay down tracks of scrap wood that elevate the logs 1-2'' above the forest floor. Stack the logs in a layer with a little space for airflow between each log. If you have more logs, you can make multiple layers by off-setting each layer by 90°. Keep the stack lower than the average snow line, as the snow cover protects the logs from dry winter winds. Generally no special care is needed while the mycelium grows throughout the log, but watering may be needed if excessively dry weather occurs.
- Restack the logs into a log cabin fashion for increased air flow and ease of mushroom picking, about a year after inoculation. Log cabin stacks can be as high as 5' in wetter climates but in dry climates shorter stacks, closer to the ground, help keep logs moist. Fruiting naturally occurs after rains, and occurs in cycles. After the log has fruited once on its own, it can be stimulated to fruit by watering or soaking it in cold water for 24 hours. If it has recently fruited, forcing will probably not work.
- Cut three sections of log for each totem: one piece only 1-3'' long, and two sections 12-18'' long.
- Bring your setup to your planned incubation place and create totems on site.
- Open a contractor-size black plastic bag, sprinkle a layer of sawdust spawn about 1'' deep in the bottom of the bag, and stand one of the 12-18'' logs upright on top of the spawn. Make another layer of sawdust spawn on top of it, and place the second 12-18'' log on top of that. Create a third layer of sawdust spawn of top of the second log and then cap the totem with the 1-3'' piece.
- Wrap the plastic bag up around the inoculated totem, securing the top loosely with a strip of cloth or a rubber band, positioned in such a way that an opening allows for some air exchange but does not allow rain water to enter the bag.
- Incubate the covered totems for 4-12 months. When the logs are covered with a visible layer of mushroom mycelium, the plastic bag can be removed. The totem can be left intact or broken up into individual sections for fruiting.