Is it Time to Fruit Your Mushroom Logs?
Depending on your bioregion, late spring through fall tends to be the best time of the year for fruiting mushroom logs outdoors. Of course you will also need to be within the recommended temperature range of the mushroom species you're trying to fruit. One of the most common questions our customer service representatives hear at this time of the year is, “I purchased some plug spawn last year, plugged my logs according to the instructions and haven't seen any mushrooms yet.” As mushroom cultivators, it's important to observe how mushrooms grow in the wild and attempt to simulate that process as best as possible at home.
Because most mushrooms are approximately 85% water, the substrate material supporting the fungal colony needs to have sufficient moisture in order to produce mushrooms. Basically, by soaking the logs in fresh water for 24 hours you're attempting to simulate a heavy rainfall which tends to trigger mushroom production. Once you've provided the proper moisture and temperature you're on the way to producing mushrooms.
After the 24 hour soaking process we find it best to keep the logs in a somewhat shaded location to prevent dehydration. It's advisable to mist or water the logs 1–2 times daily until you start to see mushroom primordia (baby mushrooms) emerge from the logs. This will usually take 7–10 days depending on the temperature and humidity. Shiitake (shown here) prefers a temperature range of 50–70 °F with humidity around 85%.
Once your logs have been harvested, it's best to lay them back in the incubation piles so they can store up more nutrients for future crops. Depending on your environment you might be able to fruit the logs 2–4 times a year, however it is recommended to let the logs rest about 1 month after a harvest.
Now that we've walked you through the process, go out and check your logs. You might be pleasantly surprised to see some mushrooms already forming. If not, go ahead and give your logs a well-deserved soak. Hopefully you'll have some delicious natural log-grown mushrooms in the near future.
For more information on log and stump cultivation of mushrooms, visit the Plug Spawn section of our site.