Shiitake Growing on Logs

December 17, 2019, at 02:03 PM by Geoffrey? in Shiitake, Mushrooms (0 comments)

Grow your own Shiitake mushrooms at home on Hardwood logs!


Growing Shiitake Mushrooms at home is one of my favorite yearly endeavors. Harvesting Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms in your own backyard is not only ridiculously cool, but ridiculously easy to do. It just take a little time on the front end, and a small investment in some spawn, and potentially a few inexpensive tools. Depending on how many logs you plan to do, the actual time it takes to completely inoculate a log with Shiitake spawn is very low. When you start doing 10+, it becomes more of a commitment, where having helpers can be very helpful.

I have personally done this 4-5 times, and plan on doing it yearly, especially since I live in the woods now, and there are always oak trees that need to be pruned in the early spring.

See below for all the details!

Materials List

Some of these items you may have around the house, and others you may need to purchase, but the tools will last a long time, and it is a one time purchase. There are a few other materials that are needed and used in the log prep that will be needed to purchase yearly.

Inoculation Tool List:

  • Choose 1 from the list below (depending on your spawn choice)
    • Rubber Mallet (for Plug Spawn)
    • Inoculation Gun ( for Sawdust Spawn)
  • Electric High Speed Drill
  • Drill Bit with stopper
  • Paint Brush ( I would get a few of them, and of varying sizes)
  • Metal cup ( I use a milk frothing vessel from my Espresso Machine)

Specialty Items Needed:

  • Shiitake Spawn (Plug or Sawdust)

You can choose other types of Mushrooms to grow. Shiitake is the option that I have chosen, and have had good results with. I plan to try others in the future.

  • Organic Beezwax, or Other Suitable Wax

Optional Tools for Log Prep:

  • Wire Brush
  • Pressure Sprayer

Optional Tools for Waxing the log:

  • Hot plate
    • For keeping the wax constantly in a liquid state

Log Details

The LOG!!!! This is a Critical step, which I have made mistakes with in the past. If you screw up on not procuring the correct hardwood log, not only do you waste all of your time, because nothing will ever grow, it is a major shot to your ego and enthusiasm for doing it again the following year. I have made numerous mistakes on this, and have wasted countless hours inoculating logs that would have never grown anything.

To save you heartache, and to ensure (no guarantee) good results, follow the tips below.

It is Really "ALL ABOUT THE LOG" . Pay Attention!

Log Requirements:

Hardwood Logs from HEALTHY TREES:
Make sure you are getting logs from trees that are healthy and thriving. When you see your neighbor cutting down an oak tree, and you stop to inquire on what they plan to do with all the wood, be sure to ask " Why are you cutting it down". If the answer is:

  • It was dying or dead
  • It had some strange disease

Then you absolutely DO NOT WANT THE WOOD! Trust me on this. I thought I was scoring some amazing amounts of oak tree logs from one of my neighbors, and well... After my largest inoculation ever, nothing fruited.. EVER... So, don't waste your time, or heartache on wood from a questionable tree.

Log Specs

Log Characteristics Details for Inoculation:

First, Make sure you have logs from a Hardwood Tree. Many different types will work, but just make sure it is a hardwood.

Second, you want to make sure the Logs you get are from disease free trees which are alive at the time of harvest.

Third, make sure the Bark is intact on the logs. Be careful when transporting or loading up the wood, as to not damage the bark. It plays a crucial roll in the moisture content.


Log Timing for Inoculation

Think about the time that the logs were cut from the tree as T0. Meaning that is the day you measure from to determine how long ago the logs were harvested. This is an important factor for two reasons. Logs need to be inoculated within 2-4 weeks (time may vary, but be careful going too long, and don't go early). The timing for inoculation is important for 2 reasons:

Early Inoculation (T0 to 14 days):
Inoculating prior to 2 weeks is not a good plan. Trees produce anti-fungal enzymes when freshly cut to deter fungi from entering the tree. Not only do they produce it at the stump where it was cut, but throughout the cut sections of your log. Inoculating prior to two weeks, puts you in the timeframe where the anti-fungal enzymes are present, which can and will inhibit the ability of your mushroom spawn to colonize the log.

Late Inoculation (4 weeks or longer from T0):
Since the anti-fungal enzymes produced by the cut log are there for about 10-14 days, it also means that after that time period, the wood is basically open to colonization from other mushrooms. The reason you want to inoculate before 4 weeks, is that acts as a safety period where no other mushrooms will be able to develop a stronghold in your wood prior to inoculation. Remember, spores are in the air all around us. It just takes one to land on your log, and start to grow mycelium. So don't wait too long to inoculate the logs, or you may have mushrooms at the end, but they may not be what you intended.

 The Goldilocks Zone for Log Inoculation is between 2-4 weeks from time of harvest.

Spawn Details

Shiitake Mushroom spawn is basically a substrate (sawdust or wooden dowels) which have been colonized with Shiitake Mushroom mycelium. It is typically a white color when you look at it and when handled can go back to the original color of the substrate.

For Making Inoculated Logs, you have two Spawn Choices -- Sawdust Spawn & Wooden Dowel Spawn.

I have inoculated logs both ways, and had success with both. Given the additional time for the sawdust spawn, and the potential for equipment issues (jammed inoculation gun), I prefer the Shiitake Dowel spawn. But, both will work very well, and if you are not doing very many logs, then either would work and be just fine.. This is all about preference, and I happen to prefer the dowels.

Order your spawn ahead of time, or order it from T0 when you know you will need it soon. But it really doesn't matter if you order it early, because it is sealed well, and can be easily stored in the refrigerator to keep it viable.

I order all my Mushroom Supplies from PaulStamets @ FungiPerfecti?, and my reasons for doing this can be found in the links referenced. But you can get shiitake spawn from a lot of very credible retailers, I just have no experience with other vendors.

Log Preparation

So, your logs meet the Requirements found above regarding which logs will be good for inoculating. Now what... Well, there are some steps you can take to help make this project more fruitful, and potentially avoid pitfalls.

Missing Bark: As I said, the bark is very important. Sometimes when harvesting at the point where the log was cut, there can be bark missing. I like to have smooth edges on the largest parts of the log.

Solution to Missing Bark: For areas near the ends of the log with missing bark, cut the log with a sharp saw past the part where the bark is missing. This will give you a circumferential bark wrap at the ends of the log. For bark missing elsewhere, just use extra was on those areas to keep them sealed and the moisture in.

Moss: Some logs I have gotten recently have had a lot of Moss on them, And its a moss that doesn't seem to just come off easily. There is some benefits to taking the moss off as long as you do not damage the bark.

Solutions to Removing Moss: There are two methods I have used for removing moss from he logs, and also not damaging the bark.

  • Solution 1: Use a wire brush to scrape off the moss. I have not had issues with the brush damaging the bark, but it does a good job of removing the moss. It is labor intensive, but effective.
  • Solution 2: Use a pressure sprayer (being careful of the pressure used) to remove the moss layer. This may loosen it up, and then you can go back with a brush to remove the stragglers.

Inoculation Process (Drilling Holes)

Drilling holes in the logs is the same whether you decide to do Plug or Sawdust Spawn. I highly recommend using a High Speed Drill, and a drill bit that is sharp and can easily go through the Bark and wood. Make sure to have your Drill Stop set to the depth you want the holes drilled. Alternatively you can use Tape as a measured stop ( I have done this before), but be wary that the tape can migrate and your holes may end up being too deep.

Drilling Process:

  • Start at one side of the log, and go near the edge ( about 1 inch away) and drill your first hole.
  • Then move down the log in a line towards the other end, spacing each hole about 4 inches apart.
  • Continue this until you get to the other end of the log.
  • Once you have one line of holes drilled, rotate the log so that your next set of holes will be about 3-4 inches away from the first line.
  • Stagger your second set of holes offset from the first row, so that when you are done if you drew a line connecting all points, you would have a series of triangles on your log.
  • Continue this process until you have rotated the log completely.

If your last set of holes is going to end up way too close to your first set, just eyeball it and space as needed. The goal is not a perfect pattern, but will spaced holes that will let the mycelium colonize faster.

Inoculation Techniques (Spawn / Plug)

Sawdust Spawn Inoculation:

With Sawdust spawn, make sure you have the sawdust spawn and the Inoculation Tool, as these are the two things used extensively here.

Steps for inoculation with the inoculation tool:

  • Open up your sawdust spawn bag after shaking it and

Inoculated Shiitake Log Stacking

Initiating Shiitake Fruiting

Results & How to Harvest


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Page last modified on January 23, 2020, at 10:50 PM