Shiitake mushrooms are gaining lots of popularity mainly because of their flavor. Besides that, they have few calories and loads of vitamins, fiber, and protein. They also provide healthy nutrients that help improve your immune system, support cardiac health, and help fight tumors and cancer.
However, growing this product can be challenging since they require more incubation time and have low aggressive mycelium. When grown on grain or sawdust, shiitake mushrooms can produce a maximum of five flushes on average. Growing them on logs will allow you to harvest fresh mushrooms after every five to six weeks for approximately five or six years.
Step1: Choosing the Substrate
Before venturing into growing shiitake mushrooms, you must know which substrate you intend to use. Then, purchase the quantities needed. These mushrooms tend to be picky on the ground they will grow on, compared to other mushrooms such as the oyster. For a shiitake mushroom to thrive, it will require a log-based platform to acquire the nutrients it needs. Thus, you will only have two options to choose from, either a block of sawdust or logs.
When picking the right substrate, it’s a good idea to choose one built with hardwood trees. The best trees to choose from are beech, maple, ironwood, and oak. When selecting logs, check that they are fresh enough to ensure they are free of other fungi types. Do not choose logs equipped with lichen or moss since they can have a negative impact on the quality of the mushroom.
Step 2: Preparing the Substrate
Most substrates that these mushrooms thrive on do not need sterilization as they will be already pasteurized. When you are using sawdust beads, all you have to do is merge them in water for half an hour and break them apart. If you are using fresh sawdust, soak them in boiled water for two hours, or use a high pH lime bath for 18 hours.
Step 3: Inoculation
If you are equipping the logs with spawn for outdoor purposes, you will have to do this during the spring season to escape the frost's dangers. You can easily find the spawns in online shops if you want to inoculate them soon after obtaining the logs. Ensure that you drill holes that are slightly larger than the spawns in a three-inch distance but in a staggered row. After that, insert the spawns in the holes, and cover the holes with cheese wax or beeswax to prevent any fungus from entering.
Step 4: Incubation
Shiitake mushrooms will require an incubation period of 6-12 months if you are using logs. Put them in a shady area, and ensure that they do not touch the ground. This is to prevent other fungi from attaching themselves to the log and affecting the mushrooms. Cover the logs with a shade cloth to allow free moisture movement while protecting them from sun rays.