Hello everyone! Hope this wonderful fall-like weather is suiting everyone’s plans. I find it both welcome and worrisome since cold weather is surely right behind it. This weekend we took advantage of some help from the West Virginia State University Extension Service and attend had a mushroom cultivation workshop. It was exciting, hands on, and very informative. Brad Cochran, of WVSU Extension, taught the class and showed us how to select and prepare logs for growing mushrooms.
We learned that while there are several methods of ordering spores to build your logs, dowels seem to be the best value, with 1000 dowels costing about $35. The wax you put over the inserted dowels runs about $10. So for less than $50 one has enough supplies to inoculate about 30 logs, each producing for about 3-4 years. That’s a lot of mushrooms:)
After drilling the holes and inserting the dowels, you seal them with wax. This wax must be either soy based, beeswax, or cheese wax. Paraffin wax does not work well and can cause your log to fail.
We also learned about storing our logs, the best site selection, and best conditions for growth. These guys take a while to grow and must go through a summer before they produce. So, the logs we did this weekend won’t actually produce until next July or August. Waiting is part of the game in growing mushrooms but a benefit is that it is largely a hands off game.
After inoculating the logs, they will be hands off until the summer when we harvest. This is due to the cool weather variety we used. If you select a warm weather variety, there is a process that must be done in the spring to start the growing process. Since these mushrooms are native to Japan, they are used to thunderstorms (typhoons) and therefore must be soaked in water to signal growth. Apparently a bit of simulated thunder helps as well and therefore a thump on the ground after soaking is encouraged.
So while they might take a while to get started, mushroom cultivation is easy and low-cost, and will provide mushrooms for years to come. With the proper schedule of inoculation and rotation, you can have mushroom production most of the year in West Virginia. And mushrooms are not only delicious but they provide protein and iron to your diet at a much lower calorie intake rate than steak. One Shiitake Mushroom can offer as much protein as an average size steak. There are many claims to other benefits such as cholesterol reduction, cardiovascular health, immune support, and anti-cancer benefits. Research for yourself, but the Asian culture has been using these babies as medicinal supplements for nearly 6,000 years.