Hackberry logs with blue oyster arranged in the log cabin style
Photo by @leboeufhomestead on Instagram
Early spring is one of the best times to harvest trees for inoculation, as their energy-rich sap is still concentrated in the wood prior to bud-break, providing critical nutrients for early mycelial growth. We wrote an article covering which tree species are best for cultivating a variety of mushrooms, and we outlined the different methods and tools you can use to cultivate them on logs using plug and sawdust spawn. Today we highlight 5 of the best mushrooms to grow on logs, including shiitake, lion’s mane, oyster, reishi, and chestnut, and explore different growing methods to maximize their yield. As an FYI, our log inoculation calculator helps you determine how much spawn you’ll need for your project.
Shiitake (Lentinula edodes) are by far one of the easiest and most foolproof mushrooms you can grow on logs using our plug and sawdust spawn, and people have been growing them for hundreds of years in Asia. They are nutritious, medicinal, and our particular strain is adapted to a wide range of environmental conditions, meaning they will fruit in a larger range of temperatures. Shiitakes prefers to grow on hardwoods such as alder, beech, hornbeam, hophornbeam, hard maples (sugar and black maples), oaks, and sweetgum, and can be cultivated using the basic log method, stumps, totems, and pillars. Riverside Farm in North Yarmouth grows them outside in a high tunnel. We recommend waiting until your logs fruit naturally at least once, often after heavy rain and a temperature shift, before starting a regimen of force fruiting. Their ability to be stimulated to fruit every 8 weeks, up to 3 times per year, means they’re one of the most reliable producers. Shiitake is one of the most popular culinary mushrooms and has a savory flavor and meaty texture when cooked, lending itself to a range of uses in the kitchen.
Shiitake maple logs in the log cabin style
Photo by @shimilanga on Instagram
Customer Court Spain grew this adorable lion's mane
Lion’s mane (Hericium erinaceus) is a nutritious medicinal mushroom that produces plump white clusters with icicle-like teeth. Though slightly harder to get flushes than shiitake, they are still a great outdoor mushroom for intermediate growers as they colonize quickly and are relatively reliable producers. While this variety prefers the totem method our plug and sawdust spawn strains can be grown using any of the log methods and prefers to fruit during the cooler months, often in autumn. Colonization varies by log size but typically takes between 12-24 months overall. Lion’s mane prefers maple but can grow on many hardwood species and on logs with large or small diameters. Lion's mane is one of the most popular culinary mushrooms. When cooked, it has a consistency and flavor similar to crab meat making it an ideal seafood substitute. We like to slice it into rounds and pan-fry it in olive oil or butter, or shred it to make vegan or vegetarian crab cakes. You can find some amazing recipes in our article, 5 of the Best Lion's Mane Mushroom Recipes.
Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus spp.) include blue, snow, golden and Italian oysters and are some of the easiest gourmet edible mushrooms to grow. All 4 strains can be grown on logs in a variety of methods including traditional drill and fill, wedge, and rafting. All except the golden oyster prefer cool weather in which to fruit. Though oysters prefer to grow on hardwood trees generally, Italian oyster has been successfully grown on hemlock and pine. The oysters listed here are popular culinary mushrooms; blue oyster has a pleasant aroma that allows it to easily replace button mushrooms in most recipes and pair well with many cuisines and flavors. Italian oyster aroma can be likened to anise or licorice and is very versatile in cooking. Snow oyster is sweet, while golden oyster is both sweet and fruity, like melon. When cooked, golden oysters retain a meaty texture and taste nuttier than the other oysters. As an FYI, all oyster mushrooms retain water and may develop a viscous texture when undercooked. If you prefer a firm or dryer texture, continue to cook oysters until their liquid has reduced and cooked off and they begin to brown.
Silver Maple pillar with blue oyster sawdust spawn
Often referred to as the "mushroom of immortality," Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) is one of the best known and most studied medicinal mushrooms, producing beautiful, reddish-brown, shelf-like fruiting bodies that are highly prized for their wellness properties. At North Spore, we cultivate two species; Red Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum) which prefers hardwoods such as maples, oaks and sycamores, and Hemlock Reishi (G. tsugae) which prefers, as its name suggests, hemlocks. Reishi prefers to fruit during the warmer months, and while they can be cultivated using any of the log methods we recommend trenching the logs if you use the traditional log method as reishi appears to benefit from at least partially burial. Reishi is tough, woody, and bitter. For this reason, we don’t recommend it for culinary use however it is a popular medicinal mushroom that can be dried and made into teas, powders, and tinctures. It can also serve as a uniquely beautiful form of art!
Chestnut (Pholiota adiposa) is an edible mushroom of recent culinary interest in North America. This species produces small clusters of velvety, delightfully speckled mushrooms resembling the color of their namesake nut. Chestnuts can be grown with North Spore's plug or sawdust spawn in the traditional drill and fill method of log inoculation. However, partial burial or trenching is advised after logs fully colonize to limit moisture loss and increase access to soil nutrition. For this reason, and due to their resemblance to a number of poisonous species, they are not ideal for first time cultivators. However, they can be quite rewarding to grow for those with some experience growing other species. When cooked, they have a woodsy aroma, a crunchy texture, and a rich, nutty, mildly-sweet flavor that work best when sautéing and simmering, and are delicious in a variety of soups, stews, and casseroles. Check out this article for a few tantalizing recipes.