Cool weather shiitake plug spawn are well suited for northern US and Canadian climates. Fruits will develop at 50-70F, to live in the cold climates these mushrooms tend to grow slightly slower but once fruiting starts they will be more prolific in colder temperatures.
Pack of 100 plugs
What is mushroom plug spawn?
Mushroom plug spawn is spiral grooved hardwood dowels infused (inoculated) with a specific mushroom species, in thise case shiitake mushroom (Lentinula edodes). The mushroom mycelium (the white, root-like network of cells) colonizes and penetrates the dowels as it consumes the lignins provided by the wood. These plugs are used to inoculate freshly cut hardwood logs, stumps, or rounds to create a fruiting mushroom colony that can produce mushrooms for many years! These colonies are commonly referred to as mushroom logs. After waiting approximately one year from inoculation, a well cared for log will produce mushrooms several times a year, for 3-5 years.
Shiitake logs are fun to make, require little maintenance, and will reliably produce mushrooms for years. Inoculate your own prepared logs using our 5/16in x 1in spiral grooved colonized plug spawn. A pack of 100 plugs is sufficient spawn to successfully inoculate 3-4 mushroom logs.
Making shiitake mushroom logs
Use only recently cut, disease free hardwood logs of approximately three feet in length and four to six inches in diameter… about as long and thick as your leg. “Shii” is the Japanese name of the tree Castanopsis cuspidata that provides the dead logs on which it is typically cultivated in Japan. For those of us in North America, we find shiitake mushrooms prefer white oak. Use disease free wood with the bark intact. Other similar hardwoods are also suitable.
Prepare plug spawn inoculation sites by drilling 5/16in x 1 1/2in holes in a spiral pattern starting at one end of the log working towards the other. Space each hole approximately 4-6 inches away from the last. Number of holes will vary, for most logs 20-30 is good.
Inoculate the log by hammering the colonized plugs into each hole. Using a small punch to sink the top of the plug 1/4in or so below the bark surface is recommended.
Seal the inoculation sites by dripping melted cheese wax onto each hole. Cheese wax is easy to work with and can be melted in a double boiler. We use a small 2.5 quart crock pot dedicated to this purpose. Wax can be dripped on with a brush, distributed with a large dropper, turkey baster, or easy to use 10cc B-D inoculation syringes. A markable metal write-on tag can be stapled or tacked to the end of the log for long term identification.
Caring for mushroom logs
Place logs in a shaded area and keep moist. Elevating the logs from the surface, creating stacks, or leaning against each other for support is best. Frequent and normal rainfall should keep them moist, but the logs may require a watering during dry spells. If the logs receive no notable rain for two weeks we recommend soaking them overnight in a tub or bucket filled with water.
Logs inoculated in early Spring may produce mushrooms by Fall, but will typically take up to one year to mature. Once mature, shock logs into producing mushroom by soaking them overnight and covering with a tarp or blanket. Remove cover when small mushrooms begin budding, usually 3-5 days. This is best done in Fall and Spring as shiitake is a cool weather mushroom and will eagerly produce when temps are 50F-70F.
Properly maintained logs will continue to produce mushrooms for many seasons!
For more information on growing from plug spawn check out the following titles from our Mushroom Bookstore:
Also available in 500 plug packs