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I Spy With My Little Eye…

December 2nd, 2011

Yesterday afternoon was really beautiful; the sun was shining and it was in the high 30’s temperature wise. Perfect for digging up the back hillside and planting some of the tulips that have been waiting in the garage. About dusk, I wandered back into the maple grove to look around and much to my surprise I noticed some of the my mushrooms logs had started to produce mushrooms!

I guess all that warm rainy weather we’ve been having the last couple weeks made them decide it was time to start fruiting. One of the ‘Pearl Oyster’ logs was producing huge masses of beautiful blonde mushrooms. They were a bit frosty because the temps dipped down into the mid 20’s overnight, but I picked them anyways. The texture might not be quite right, but they’ll still be flavorful in a venison stew.

These logs were inoculated way back on April 21st of this year. I ordered these spawn plugs from Grow Organic this spring, they’re also available from Fungi Perfecti.

Inoculating logs with mushroom spawn couldn’t be easier. Basically you drill holes in the logs 3-4 inches apart in a diamond pattern, pound in the spawn plugs, cover with wax and let sit in a shaded area. After a few months you can start watering the logs to encourage fruiting, or you can let them fruit naturally during spring and fall rains. (since folks were asking in the comments I figured I’d add that the logs are supposed to continue to produce mushrooms for 3-5 years depending on the size of log used and the type of wood used).

I used three different kinds of spawn plugs to inoculate logs this spring, Pearl Oyster, Hen of the Woods (Maitake) and Shiitake. I also inoculated some wood chips in the garden area with Garden Giant and Elm Oyster mushrooms spawn.

After plugging your logs with spawn you’re supposed to put some wax over the holes to keep bad fungus and bacteria out. I will use beeswax next time, but I didn’t have any when I did these logs so I used some extra cheese wax I had in the pantry. I’m not keen on using a petroleum product but it was all I had. I have since purchased some organic beeswax to use this coming spring when I inoculate more logs.

I’ve declared my love of mushrooms before, so being able to grow my own makes me a very happy camper! If all continues to go well with this experiments I’ll be inoculating many more logs this coming spring to keep up enjoying mushrooms by the bushel! My harvest tally for this picking was 3 pounds – not bad indeed!

Have you ever grown mushrooms? Do you think you’d like to try? Yay or nay on mushrooms in your food?

38 Comments to “I Spy With My Little Eye…”
  1. Boni on December 2, 2011 at 5:31 am

    Yummy harvest! I love mushrooms and ever since moving back to Pune couple of years back all we could get here are the plain buttons. Inoculating a a few dozen logs is on my to do list. Thanks for the instant inspiration and already drooling thinking about the venison stew pictures :)

    Reply to Boni's comment

  2. Anita on December 2, 2011 at 7:01 am

    Try cooking them in a little olive oil to get some of the water cooked out of them. I do this and pack them in 1/2 pint mason jars to freeze. They are good to pull out for your venison stew, italian beef, pizza or what ever. My husband picks oyster shell and hen of the woods in the timber of our area.

    Reply to Anita's comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 9:26 am

      Thanks for the tip!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Eliza J on December 2, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Those are beautiful! I had no idea you could do this and will have to investigate further…3 pounds! You must be thrilled ~ nothing like enjoying the fruits of your labor.

    Reply to Eliza J's comment

  4. Jennifer Fisk on December 2, 2011 at 7:27 am

    The Maine woods are the perfect climate for mushrooms as evidenced by the abundance of them. I think next spring I’ll have to try this as I have plenty of down trees to use. Thanks for the photos and description of how easy it is.

    Reply to Jennifer Fisk's comment

  5. Rhonda on December 2, 2011 at 7:31 am

    Wow! What a great surprise! I dehydrate mushrooms when I can find them on sale. It’s nice to be able to throw some into soups or stews. It’s amazing how much flavor they add. Congratulations on your bounty!

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

  6. Kathi Cook on December 2, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I would love to learn how to do this. We love mushrooms and they are so costly at the farmer’s markets. Once the logs are innoculated do they re grow from spores on their own the next season or do you need to buy more plugs? I also am very interested in foraging for mushrooms. We did as children. I know there are great books on the subject and the occasional led walk. Enjoy eating your new shrooms!

    Reply to Kathi Cook's comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

      Once inoculated the logs should fruit for a few years until the log composts down. It also depends on what kind of wood you use, generally from my reading a soft hardwood is recommended like poplar or maple the harder woods fruit less initially but last longer. These logs should fruit for 2-5 years depending on the size they were when inoculated and how wet the years are.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Brittany P. on December 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

    YAY!!! I am so happy for you! I love mushrooms and it would be thrilling to grow my own someday. I love them but my family is hesitant.. but they have only ever tried the button type mushrooms and if I want to cook with them then I have to chop them very small cause they say they don’t mind them if they are small but don’t want big pieces. I wonder what they would think of some other kinds…

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 9:28 am

      I used to do this for Mr Chiots who did not like mushrooms either. After eating them sauteed a few times he’s now a fan and will eat them any other vegetable. Generally I like them simply sauteed in butter and topped with sea salt & freshly ground pepper.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. gabe on December 2, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Haven’t grown them yet, but it’s on my near-future to do list. I found some oysters growing wild this fall, so I know conditions are right. What kind of logs do you use? I have mostly maple and tulip (poplar) logs lying around, and it seemed like the oysters were only on the tulips.

    Reply to gabe's comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 9:29 am

      These kinds of semi-hard woods are the best. The logs above were tulip logs and come highly recommended for mushroom growing. Maple is also good.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. DeeDee on December 2, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Adding this to my to do list!

    Reply to DeeDee's comment

  10. Allison on December 2, 2011 at 9:40 am

    We love Mushrooms and I bought a Portabella kit last spring. We grew them and they were great; but it was a one time kind of thing. In the way you are doing, will you have to plu the logs every year, or will they continue to now reproduce on their own?

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 9:44 am

      They’ll continue to produce for 2-5 years from what I read, until the log is decomposed.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Allison on December 2, 2011 at 9:58 am

        Awesome! I think I just found an Xmas gift for hubby!!

        to Allison's comment

  11. daisy on December 2, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Love, love, love mushrooms! Especially on homemade pizza!
    What a cool project. Enjoy your harvest!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  12. goatpod2 on December 2, 2011 at 10:17 am

    It was lovely here yesterday as well but it was 42 degrees!


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  13. pam on December 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

    I have wanted to try this for a long time, seeing your pictures really motivates me!

    Reply to pam's comment

  14. Lori on December 2, 2011 at 10:42 am

    My husband and I have been talking about doing this because we have a big stump in the backyard, and we want to help it decompose without tossing a bunch of chemicals on it or hiring someone to come out here and grind it up, which could be expensive. I read that growing mushrooms on old stumps might do the trick to (slowly!) help the process along. We LOVE to eat mushrooms so all the more reason to give it a shot. I’m not sure how successful we will be in our dry Colorado climate, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Reply to Lori's comment

  15. Daedre Craig on December 2, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Wow! That’s really exciting! I would love to grow my own mushrooms someday. But first, I like to learn how to forage for them in the wild.

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  16. Jennelle on December 2, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for this post! I think I’ll try this. But do you need a freshly cut log? We had a tree fall on our property last year. We cut up most of it for firewood, but there were some pieces that we just couldn’t use because they were just too big. I wonder if I could grow mushrooms from that? I wonder if an old log might already have bad bacteria in it, and it obviously wouldn’t last as long as a freshly cut log would.

    Reply to Jennelle's comment

  17. KimH on December 2, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    That is one thing I’ve never tried to do.. I think my mom did back many years ago though.. fun fun.

    I love mushrooms.. I dont think I ever met a mushroom I didnt like. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  18. Fred on December 2, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    I am not a big mushroom fan, but am trying to incorporate more into my diet, and have been interested in trying to raise my own in my apt. something like the mushroom logs is a great idea, that I will definitely be using when I am transitioned into a house with a bit of land and not a plot at a community garden.

    Reply to Fred's comment

  19. Texan on December 2, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I am so doing this! I didn’t know about this. Mushrooms are tasty for sure and they are so good for our health its not even funny! Glad you posted this :O)

    Reply to Texan's comment

  20. Cherise on December 2, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I don’t like mushrooms. In fact, I was gloriously happy when I was diagnosed with a mushroom allergy 10 years ago because that meant my mom wouldn’t try to feed them to me anymore. BUT! Several years ago my brother-in-law ate three “Death Caps” from his yard and nearly died. We learned SO much about mushrooming, poisoning, and different varieties that I can not help but be completely fascinated with them. (Oh, btw, I love my BIL and it was a terrifying time for our family.) I have been photographing mushrooms ever since at the urging of my sister to track the varieties that grow on their farm and in our area.

    Your photos are fantastic! I’m almost tempted to inoculate some logs myself just to get some really cool pics. Needless to say, our family is not big on eating mushrooms anymore but we definitely appreciate their … uh, shall we say … power.

    Reply to Cherise's comment

    • Susy on December 2, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      Yikes, that’s quite a family mushroom experience. Most of my mushrooms come from the store or my local farmer. I only forage for morels which I can identify for sure. I do hope to someday learn more local wild varieties so I can find more wild mushrooms.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Cherise on December 3, 2011 at 1:45 pm

        Interestingly enough my sister does have morels growing on their property. They found two beautiful specimens in the Spring but were afraid to cut them. My BIL suggested they cut them, dry them and send them off to a lab to ensure they are real. We all thought he was crazy but as far as mushrooms go they are one of the easier varieties to identify. I don’t think they’ll be eating anything out of their yard in the near future though.

        to Cherise's comment

  21. Amy on December 2, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Wondering if there’s a zone range on these. I’d like to purchase them for my father in Northern Wisconsin, but not sure how they winter. Could they make it through 3-5 sub-zero winters?

    Reply to Amy's comment

  22. Brenda on December 2, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    WHat a great idea I have never seen this before, here in Australia you can buy mushroom boxes, which are a polystyrene box filled with compost and mushroom spore but I LOVE these logs, much nicer than a ugly white box and more enviromentally friendly.

    Reply to Brenda's comment

  23. judym on December 3, 2011 at 12:24 am

    Love this idea. I’d love to try it. Uncle Richard especially will interested. We love cooking with many different varieties of mushrooms but so cost prohibitive. Now this is a real possibility!

    Reply to judym's comment

    • Susy on December 3, 2011 at 7:28 am

      Certainly is easy so much cheaper, especially for these kinds of mushrooms which are very expensive in the markets.

      The love of mushrooms must run strong in the Hatfield blood too!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  24. Alan on December 3, 2011 at 8:44 am

    Thanks for the tip on the plugs! Our very generous neighbors supplied several meals with this found mushroom (flickr photo: I’m not sure what the variety is, but it was meaty and delicious.

    Reply to Alan's comment

  25. Jenny on December 3, 2011 at 9:33 am

    My husband and I took a mushroom growing class (it was my date night choice) but only his log produced a few mushrooms. I’m going to continue trying. I know we opted not to cover with wax- maybe this made the difference? So glad to see that they do grow and now I’m tempted to give this another go!

    Reply to Jenny's comment

    • Susy on December 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

      It does also take continuous water for a week or two to produce. You can submerse them in a big tub or water them. I think mine fruited from all the fall rains we’ve been having! Love that you chose a mushroom class for your date night!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  26. Victoria on December 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    What a fun idea! Mushroom plugs – amazing!

    Reply to Victoria's comment

  27. Donna B. on December 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Egads…! Now I know what to ask for for Christmas!!!
    You were able to get mushrooms so quickly! And the fact that they produce for so long – there’s no reason for more people NOT to try this!

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  28. Kristen Bishop on October 17, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Last spring the popple logs that held my homemade mini greenhouse down in the wind sprouted oysters and ,silly me, I did not harvest them. I shall this year & I will look for the rest of them- strewn through the gardens- and set it all up for early spring mushrooms. Now to but some maitake & shitake….

    Reply to Kristen Bishop's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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