Grow Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms

Growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs in your backyard is a well-known way to have easy access to fresh food. But what about growing your own mushrooms?

| Fall 2012

It all started harmlessly as part of a birthday gift. A recent spring-cut log with a thin ribbon around it seemed strange at first glance. But the bewildered look on my husband’s and my face changed as we realized it was an inoculated shiitake mushroom log. Thus our innocent journey began. A little care and a little patience and these delightful delicacies were on our plates. One log has grown to two stacks with more being planned.  Once you have fresh shiitakes from your woods, it will shame all others.


Growing shiitake mushrooms is very rewarding. However, it will take some effort and patience on your part to have the success needed for table-top pleasure. Log-grown shiitakes are known to have the best texture, flavor, vitamin and mineral content compared to all others. I’ll cover two main home-production methods: sawdust and plug spawn inoculation. With proper care, expect to have two to five flushes of mushrooms each year from the logs.

For sawdust inoculation you will need:

• Shiitake sawdust spawn
• Fresh cut logs 3–6 weeks; live but dormant fresh cut
• Drill
• 7/16" drill bit
• 7/16" stop collar for drill bit
• Inoculation tool (to inoculate logs)
• Cheese wax
• Wax daubers
• Slow cooker
• Permanent log markers, preferably aluminum

1. Use oak or sweet gum logs. Logs should be cut into 36-40" lengths and be 3-8" across, thereby light enough to handle through inoculation and stacking. Drill holes 1-1/4" deep in a diamond pattern all around the length of the log at 3-4" apart. This task is more easily accomplished by using a table or saw horses.

2. After drilling holes, use the inoculation tool to “stuff” all holes drilled. The inoculation tool and the drilled holes must be stuffed with the sawdust inoculation to prevent air pockets and drying out within the drilled hole.

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