This week we started our first set of Shiitake mushroom spawn. We had a few small Alder trees on our property that needed to be removed, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to start growing our own mushrooms. True hardwoods are a little tough to come by here, but Alder makes a great host for a number of mushroom varieties.
We ordered Pearl Oyster and Shiitake plug spawn (essentially, hardwood dowels inoculated with a particular mushroom species), from Fungi Perfecti. They are located right up in the Puget Sound of Washington. For a company more local to those of you on the east coast, there is also Oyster Creek Mushrooms in Damariscotta, Maine. I have been impressed with Paul Stamets' work for years, so it felt great to support Fungi Perfecti.
Then the dowels are pounded into the holes so they are flush with the surface of the bark.
This step was optional, but we opted for the safer route and heated some beeswax to seal each entry. This protects the interior wood, and minimizes potential competition or disruption to the spawn.
We set the logs in 2 different sites, shady with filtered light, propped off the ground on small cuts of wood.
As a final step we watered them, and now we let them do their thing, with occasional watering during dry periods. Hopefully we will have successful inoculation of the logs, and we should be able to start harvesting shiitake mushrooms by next year. We will do this same process with our oyster mushroom plugs soon.
Mushrooms are a great source of essential amino acids and a number of vitamins - including A, B12, C and D. Many mushroom types are supportive to the immune system, have been shown to lower cholesterol and have been found to be cancer-fighting. The medicinal qualities of Shiitake have been well known for many years, and they are delicious too!
Here are a couple of resources for those interested:
Medicinal Mushrooms - http://www.medicalmushrooms.net
Paul Stamets - http://www.fungi.com/about-paul-stamets.html
Shiitake Health benefits (grow kits available too, out of Mississippi) - http://www.naturalmushrooms.com/shiitake_mushroom_medicinal.php
Anyone growing mushrooms at home? I can't wait to see these start to grow!