Mushroom Gardening

Mushroom Gardening

Part of Ep. 1403 Hot Plants

Take a look at mushroom gardening with an expert from Peshtigo. Joe Krawczyk says it's easy and mushrooms are a perennial crop.

Premiere date: Aug 30, 2006

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
I've grown a lot of plants, trees, shrubs flowers, perennials, fruit, even vegetables. I've never grown mushrooms. So, I'm going to find out how. I'm with Joe Krawecyzk, one of the owners of Field and Forest Products in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. I see your booth every year at the Wisconsin Garden Expo. And you are surrounded by people. What is so exciting about growing mushrooms?

Joe Krawecyzk:
What's so exciting about growing mushrooms is that technology has been developed that makes this crop within grasp. Most people even have a brown thumb.

Shelley:
It's easy enough for me to do it or for almost anybody to do it.

Joe:
Shelley, if you can do it, anybody can do it.

Shelley:
Right! Well then, walk me through the steps. What do I do first?

Joe:
First of all, we need to come up with a suitable substrate for growing the mushroom.

Shelley:
Like a log.

Joe:
In this case, the shiitake, we're using logs.

Shelley:
What kind of logs?

Joe:
We prefer to use oak. But other species, such as sugar maple, ironwood or beech will even work for growing this.

Shelley:
These are all hard wood.

Joe:
These are hard hard woods.

Shelley:
When am I getting my log?

Joe:
Logs are generally cut during the dormant season which is generally late September to part of April here in the state of Wisconsin.

Shelley:
What if I've got a small city lot and I don't have a log?

Joe:
Then what you'll have to do is source one through your city forester, or someone in tree removal.

Shelley:
So it shouldn't be that difficult.

Joe:
You should be able to come up with one.

Shelley:
I've got my log in the dormant season. A specific size, shape?

Joe:
We like to use logs that are small in diameter generally two to six inches in diameter, cut to an even length.

Shelley:
About like this one? Why?

Joe:
For ease of handling.

Shelley:
So you can pick it up and move it around.

Joe:
That's correct.

Shelley:
When am I planting my log?

Joe:
Well, this is a spring crop. We're planting in the spring, like with a regular garden.

Shelley:
When I put my peas in, start thinking about mushrooms.

Joe:
That's a good one, yes. When peas are planted, so should the shiitake.

Shelley:
How do I plant a log?

Joe:
Logs are planted by drilling holes into the log.

Shelley:
You've got some here. A specific depth, width?

Joe:
We like to drill the hole approximately 7/16ths of an inch in diameter by about an inch deep. If we take this handy measure, this gives you an idea of how far the hole is drilled into the log.

Shelley:
So, we set our drill and we do one row like this.
Joe:
Holes are drilled around the whole circumference of a log.

Shelley:
Oh, wow.

Joe:
So, we're drilling a lot of holes. Generally, a log like this will have 50 holes in it.

Shelley:
You're kidding? Why so many holes?

Joe:
You're drilling so many holes to give shiitake the advantage over other fungi that wish to decay this log.

Shelley:
This one, it's going to overwhelm anything else that's going to come up.

Joe:
That's why we drill so many holes. And we do it in a set pattern. We have holes drilled every six to eight inches down the length of the log. The holes are staggered approximately an inch and a half from the first row of holes. This forms a diamond pattern on the log allowing the shiitake to quickly take over the log.

Shelley:
Do I have to worry about something else dangerous coming up on this log?

Joe:
That's not really anything to worry about until the log has become so decayed that other fungi will be able to grow into it but that's years down the road.

Shelley:
So, by then, I'll have a sense of what they look like. So I've got my log drilled. Where's my crop?

Joe:
Well, you need to be patient. This isn't like growing radishes. This is going to take some time. The crop is planted in the spring of the year. You should see a light fruiting in the fall of the year of inoculation.

Shelley:
So, we'll get our crop then.

Joe:
The bulk of it is going to come out the following year.

Shelley:
This is almost like a perennial.

Joe:
It is a perennial, a short-lived perennial. Generally, a log like this will last three to five years.

Shelley:
Wonderful. So, I've got my log, I'm waiting. Where is my log?

Joe:
Well, your log is in a place where wood rots. That's going to be in the shade close to the ground, near a source of water.

Shelley:
That doesn't mean a creek. That means just like any other garden plant, it needs to be kept moist. An inch of water a week?

Joe:
That would be a good recommendation. Keep in mind, we're trying to rot wood.

Shelley:
So, I'm watering my log when there's not enough rainfall. It's in the shade. I still don't see anything and I'm getting impatient. Is there a way to find out if I did this right?

Joe:
Well, there certainly are some telltale signs. One of the best ones to look for is a white discoloration underneath the bark caused by the mushroom roots drawing through the wood. You can see here we have discoloration. That's shiitake, growing through the wood.

Shelley:
To get that, though I have to plant something in these holes we drilled.

Joe:
Right, and what we do is we plant the holes with spawn. In this case, we're using wax as thimble spawn, which is a relatively new innovation for people wanting to grow mushrooms. The spawn is this white stuff. We press that into the drilled hole. The Styrofoam cap is flush with the bark. So, we've inoculated and sealed this spawn in one step.

Shelley:
The white dots are the mushroom spawn getting ready to hopefully produce.

Joe:
The log has been planted.

Shelley:
Wow, where do I get something like this? That makes it easy.

Joe:
Spawn is available through several growers in the United States and Canada. That information is available through the Wisconsin Shiitake Growers Association Web site.

Shelley:
A good place to look.

Joe:
Here's a crop of shiitake coming out on a log. They're a very distinct mushroom. They have a nice brown cap, white ornamentation on the side, and white gills and a white stem. One good indication that this is shiitake is that this mushroom appears to be coming out of an inoculation site.

Shelley:
Some of them are coming right out of the holes.

Joe:
Right where the spawn was put in.

Shelley:
Okay, harvesting.

Joe:
Shiitake is very easy to harvest. You grasp the stem and twist, and off it comes. Shiitake is a very clean mushroom. It doesn't need to be rinsed. This mushroom is ready to go.

Shelley:
It works for me, Joe. I'll take that! Thank you, very much.

Joe:
You're welcome.

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