Much care goes into producing our log-grown mushrooms and log kits. Here’s how it all happens.
After our fresh mushroom season (for logs and in-ground mushrooms) quiets down in October and November, we start work on log inoculations – the process by which we transfer the mushroom organism into the logs.
The first step is accumulating green (live) winter-cut logs. We now cut the vast majority of logs ourselves, helping land-owners thin their woods, rather than clear cutting.
Log inoculation in our fruiting house (greenhouse)
Besides logs we need spawn (the mushroom organism growing on sawdust), caps, and drill bits. Each log is drilled with between 50 and 150 holes, each hole is packed with spawn, then sealed with a cap that holds in moisture. Logs that have been inoculated are piled up in the fruiting house in dense covered stacks until we get a chance (or the weather allows!) to move them to the incubation area.
The incubating area
For incubation or “spawn run,” we lay out the logs close to the ground in another shady area. In the past this has been a wooded area on the farm, but this year we will be incubating logs under a shade structure – a pipe structure that supports a porous tarp – next to our older logs.
Spawn run is the period when the mushroom organism or mycelium spreads throughout the logs. Incubation typically takes 3 to 12 months depending on the mushroom variety, environment, and quality of materials. In our climate there is very little we have to do with these logs to encourage them, other than watering them during the occasional dry spell.
The log resting area
After mushrooms start to fruit on the logs, we move them over to the resting area. This generally happens in the fall. Our resting area is a shade structure, but other growers use tree canopy for this purpose. The logs need protection from sun and wind, and the structure helps with this, while allowing us easy access to the logs. These fruiting logs will fruit naturally here, but most of our production happens in our fruiting house.
Force-fruiting – soaking
Some varieties of shiitake respond to prolonged soaking in cold water by fruiting prolifically. They are reacting to changes in moisture and temperature. Each week we remove logs from the resting area and soak them in fresh water for about a day.
Force-fruiting – mushroom growth in fruiting house
The next day we remove them to the fruiting house, where they will fruit within the next week or so. Once picked over we move them back to the resting area and bring in a new batch to fruit the following week. We call this force-fruiting.
Not all shiitake growers use a fruiting house, but the most consistent high-quality shiitake are grown this way, since we are able to control humidity, air movement, and even temperature much more than in an outdoor fruiting area. With the help of many of you we raised the funds for our first fruiting house – through a Kickstarter campaign. Thank you supporters!
Contact Farmer Jeremy McAdams at 612-205-8599 or fill out the form below:
Cherry Tree House Mushrooms LLC, 827 15th St., Clayton, WI, 54004