This is the resource page for EDEN in SEASON mushroom log pet owners.
Ivan Chan’s Backyard-Scale Mushroom Log Setup
I’ve had this rain barrel setup for the 11 years I’ve owned my home. The wall is north-facing at an area easily accessible but that I don’t go to every day.
- logs are like shade-loving plants. Keep logs in shadier, higher humidity areas.
- the logs should be receiving natural rainfall and snowfall for moisture, yet be allowed to fully dry out between rain events. Ideally by (not inside) drip-line of a conifer, or downspout on north face of building.
- ensure adequate air flow, but protect from bare exposure to winter winds
- oyster is native and competitive with soil fungi so they can be partially buried (planted) or have ground contact whereas shiitake should be raised just off the ground, propped up by two branches (one at each end). Sharp granular is second-best but a drier habitat.
- Logs in city lots have lower humidity so tend to benefit from 2-3 maintenance soakings in a typical year. Another experimental approach we have had success with is laying colonized shiitake logs directly on the ground for better moisture retention since there is no slug problem. Doubles as garden edging too.
- For the soaker types out there, the unchlorinated water captured by rain barrels are also a great reminder of when to best soak your logs. After deep soaking, prop the log up for the next 2 weeks. Force fruitings are recommended only after the first natural fruiting has occurred. Soak in water 10degC colder for 24 hours, then shock the log. Harvest in 1-2 weeks. This can be performed every 2 months during the growing season.
- For the lazy types, make sure you have good year-round moisture and a highly visible location to keep a regular eye out for the year-round peeping mushroom. Fruitings are typically in spring and fall each year for 4-6 years (oysters have shorter lifespan but are more productive)
- One way of keeping a steady supply of mushrooms and timely updates is to have an intergenerational family of mushrooms.
- Experience has shown mushrooms are very “social” pets, so putting them in a visible location that you frequent every few days will keep your family in the know when they are ready.
- After harvesting, flip the mushroom upside down in direct sun to charge up some Vitamin D before cooking… yum!
- Full productivity is expected in the second-third year.
A mushroom is picked based on their stage of maturity not by size, although size-wise they are typically 2-3″ in diameter. Earlier picking is recommended especially in very damp weather to discourage slugs and rot.
To minimize tearing the tree bark, it is best to remove the mushrooms at the base with a knife, or fold back-and-forth until the stem breaks.
The following pictures show shiitake mushrooms. Harvesting practices apply equally to oyster mushrooms except there is no gill cap so harvest oysters just before the cap inverts.
The best quality mushrooms are picked as the gill veil opens.
For the highest yield of mushrooms, pick when cap still overlaps the gills before the gill begins to turn brown.
The following pics indicate shiitake mushrooms in progressively over-ripe but still edible stages:
Characteristics of older mushrooms are: a concave cap with the gills overlapping the cap, edge is often wavy, yellowing of the gills
- With the snow pretty much melted and the sun shining through the open canopy, it may be a good time to keep it well-shaded (man-made structure or a coniferous understorey or drape a light temporary fabric until leaf-out). You can even dunk it in water for half a day if you’re worried it’s dry.
- If you haven’t already, it is time to think about what to do when the real spring weather arrives (i.e. 10degC+ and good moisture conditions) for fruiting. For those who are prone to opening up gifts ahead of time, you can even submerge the logs now and stand them indoors on a layer of unchlorinated water if you wish.
- By now, your mushroom log is receiving ample rainfall and waken from its winter dormancy. If you have rain barrels set up they are likely full as well. With the spring weather, over the next couple weeks would be a perfect time for those that want to submerge your log to induce fruiting. The mini-shiitake I submerged 24h in clean and cold rain water, shocked (striked on the ground or with a hammer a couple of times), and since propped up inside is fruiting in 1-2 locations (see pics). I incubated my logs inside, and you can give that a try too, as long as you keep it moist (first time at it so I used a tray of water or wet towel on bottom) and give it a little solar UV. My oyster log hasn’t fruited yet but the mycelium growth is very evident.
- With no significant rains forecast over the next 2 weeks combined with the warm weather and even if you’re shaded from the open deciduous canopy, now would be a good time to dunk your logs for a day in your rain barrel or a towel saturated with unchlorinated water.
- If you are noticing moderate cracking at the ends (your thumbnail fits inside) during a drier period or shrivelling mushrooms, an occasional maintenance soak will do the trick (once a week if no decent rainfall) ensures the rainfall penetrates the log.
- Shiitake growers who submerged their logs in mid-April have now had 2 months of recharge time. The recent rains would be a great opportunity to submerge again for 24h to get a bigger flush of mushrooms. Logs that I haven’t forced have been fruiting spontaneously the last month or two.
- With forest dwellers now enjoying the shady canopy, abundant rainfalls, and constant humidity, I’ve noticed suburbanites living in a moisture-shy landscape could benefit from a regular maintenance soak.
- This is the time of year typified by steady rains and pleasantly cool weather. Now is a great time to nudge your owners to soak and shock you to fruit once more last time this year. Ivan’s volunteer oysters and shiitakes peep out following the timing of heavy rains and cool temperatures.
- As the winter creeps in, we should now tuck our mushroom logs in for winter hibernation. Restack the logs directly or near the ground to provide wind shelter and allow snow accumulation. Shade is still needed (evergreen canopy if not leaf mulch) in the event of snowmelt or during early spring.
- Some people have locked up the logs in dog cages – I guess to stop vandals and animals from taking the mushrooms. Best remedy against animal or insect browse? Bugs tend to like the easy-to-access logs (lower ones). Picking early is also good. Ideally, the logs would sit on angular gravel or diatomaceous earth but bugs may still find a way to the mushrooms. Such is a consequence with growing things outdoors. Ideally, mushrooms are picked before the cap fully uncurls (usually about 1-3″) especially since bugs are more attracted to older mushrooms
- competitor fungi – likely caused by a wet and soon-to-be-moldy blanket left on too long. Logs need to dry out in between soakings.
- direct sun in winter – covering with a shade cloth is okay during the winter months only, or relocate to north side of building
From Tim N:
“OK, so i was about to get in my car to come to the office this morning and noticed a ‘subtle’ change to the log that Luke and I inoculated this spring.
What a pleasant surprise!
Guess what we are having for dinner!
Hope all is well your end.”