Mushroom inoculation

As part of my spring equinox celebration, I spent the morning volunteering at The Well Fed Garden. I didn't know what we'd be doing, but the owner explained that we'd be inoculating logs with shiitake mushrooms. What's that, you ask?

Shiitake mushrooms growing on a log.

First, you need logs. These were sweetgum logs, cut down a few weeks ago. These should be cut down either early spring or late fall. There should be some sap in the tree for the mushrooms to feed off of, but not too much.

With each log, we drilled holes about six inches apart in a diamond pattern. There's a special drill bit that only goes down a little way. The angle grinder was heavy. I definitely need to work on my forearm strength!

Along with the drill bit is a special tool. It looks like a hollow metal rod with a palm plunger on top. So, we stabbed the bag of mushroom inoculate (or as I like to think of it, mushroom babies). The hollow part of the rod fills up, and we used the plunger to inject it into each of the holes.

The next step is waxing. There were two crock pots filled with soy wax (although beeswax is just as acceptable), which we used to cover each of the holes we'd just filled with the inoculate. This is to prevent critters from getting to the inoculate! We also covered the ends (lightly) and any places where branches had been cut off. This is to prevent unwanted fungi from growing there.

Three stacks of inoculated logs.

Once the log is waxed up, it's labeled and stacked in a grid pattern. The mushrooms will fruit twice a year (spring and fall), gradually reducing how much they fruit with each passing harvest.

After we were all done with work, we had soup made from mushrooms grown right on the farm! I'd never had barley before, but it was an awesome soup ingredient.

Bowl of soup with barley, vegetables, and shiitake mushrooms.

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#mushrooms #gardening #farming #druid #druidry #druidism