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Asia Article: Medicinal mushrooms grow in Himachal

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Australia Article: The Mushroom Tunnel of Mittagong

Australia

Europe Article: Shiitake

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Jim Hamrick in the Red Bay Farm forest

In february 2008 we began growing mushrooms. We decided to grow shiitake mushrooms since we have a forest and the shiitake grows on logs.

Growing shiitake mushrooms integrates nicely with something called timber stand improvement. Generally in timberstand improvement less desireable species of trees are removed to give more commercially desireable trees room to grow. The less desireable trees normally end up as firewood, sometimes they are used for pulpwood or the logs are just left where they fall to rot. Integrating shiitake mushrooms into timber stand improvement provides more options for the use of these culled trees.

At Red Bay Farm the tree species that we have found to be the best hosts for shiitake mushrooms are oaks (water oak and post oak) and red maple. Other tree species like black gum, sourwood and dogwood have failed to grow shiitakes (so far). Another tree which is good for growing shiitakes is the sweet gum and in the future we will cut sweet gum trees to grow shiitakes.

Growing mushrooms on logs is a great way for the backyard farmer to utilize a damp shaded corners of a suburban yard. I have about 30 two foot long logs and after a year and a half after innoculation my logs are producing about 5 to 10 pounds per flush. These logs can produce mushrooms once every two months by shocking (cooling) and soaking overnight in water.

Shiitakes are a superb tasting mushroom so the long wait has been very worthwhile. There are many ways to prepare shiitakes. For example, here is a link to a video for Cornmeal Crusted Catfish with Shiitake, Walnuts, and Green Onions (by the way, a perfect meal goal to produce from your backyard farm).

Other mushrooms besides shiitakes grow on dead wood. One other mushroom is the oyster mushroom. Here at Redbay Farm we have innoculated tree stumps and logs with oyster mushroom spawn using a technique which spreads the mushroom spores with a chainsaw. In early 2009 we purchased oil infused with pearl oyster mushroom spores. We mixed this oil with canola oil per directions and used this mushroom oil mixture as chainsaw lubricant. It looks like this effort will pay off but we Sweet gum tree stump showing oyster mushroom mycelia growthneed to wait to see the results. Trees like the sweet gum which are not optimal firewood were cut into small logs. The stumps were left high and a cap was cut off the top. The cap was then replaced on top of the stump to keep the top moist.

The roots of the stump should keep the logs moist and promote mushroom growth. We painted the short logs on the ends with the oil and stacking the logs vertically. Again the results look promising but we continue to wait for our first harvest of oyster mushrooms. We also used the oil to "paint" wounds in trees to see if we can get the oyster mushroom growing on the dead wood inside a living tree. I have read accounts of huge poplar trees producing oyster mushrooms reliably for generations.

Growing mushrooms on logs or stumps is a great addition to a backyard farm or a great source of potential income for a small forest owner. Wood otherwise burned or hauled to the dump is utilized. Mushroom logs will last between three and five years depending on the tree species. The care required for the logs is watering with non-chlorinated water and 90% shade preferably in a wooded area.. Expect the best harvest of mushrooms in the spring and fall. Year round harvests can be accomplished by putting mushroom logs into a greenhouse during the winter and a cooled structure during the summer. See the Australia link to the left to read about how an abandoned railroad tunnel is now used for mushroom production. See the North America link for a great video for making shiitake logs from trees.

Where ever you live in the world it is likely that you can grow some sort of mushroom. Take a look at the other international links to the left to find out how mushrooms are produced in your part of the world.

 

Mushrooms: How to Grow Them, written in 1891 A Useful Free EBook

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms in an Agroforestry Practice

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