The first fruiting of my home grown shiitake mushroom patch. Only two years for them to incubate and start producing!
For the shiitake mushrooms, I bought ~1000 inoculated plugs from fungi.com and put them into oak logs that I had cut on the property. It’s a pretty labor intensive process: cut the oak (other hardwoods work too), let it age for about six weeks on the ground, drill a hole for each of the plugs, pound the plugs in with a rubber hammer, cover with wax, set the logs against something, water and wait. It took nearly two years for them to start fruiting. It’s normally meant to be about six months, but mine took longer for some reason. There are a number of variables, so I’m not certain why.
I keep the logs behind the studio where they are mostly in shade, and water them with a lawn sprinkler every two days for fifteen minutes on a timer.
The process of plugging the logs took me about two half-days, with intermittent help from Rob and Kurt. The bigger logs weighed around 70 pounds each, and my back was sore for about two weeks afterwards from lifting them – that was bad. Big investment of energy up front, but now I only have to water them and harvest mushrooms.
You can also buy kits with inoculated substrate, usually wood chips or grain or something. These incubate faster, but also produce for a much shorter period of time – just a couple months. The logs are supposed to produce heavily for two years and then continue for up to five to six years, until the log is basically gone. You can check out more about this at fungi.com, and they have a variety of different mushrooms you can grow.