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January 2018
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Episode 151 Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation

Shiitakes (Lentinula Edodes) originated in East Asia (Japan, China and Korea).  Shii = an evergreen tree related to Oak, beech and other Fagaceae family trees.  Take=mushroom.  The samurai had specific spots they ordered cultivated.  Traditional cultivation involved simply adding logs next to where they grew naturally.

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My shiitake logs are doing well currently (these are not my logs above!), I’ve got them hid on TVA property in the shade.  Hopefully I’ll be harvesting this Spring.

Here’s a teaser trailer to the shiitake innoculation video I mentioned.  The full length video will be on the members site by this weekend. 

See Nick’s article here for specific steps and any I may have left out.

Paper from the guy who brought Shiitakes to the US.

The process is pretty basic:

1.  ID trees (oak, hickory, maple, sweet gum, poplar) – NO CONIFERS.  ID in the summer.

2.  Cut trees between late fall and early spring.

3.  Innoculate within 2 weeks to one month.

4.  Three methods of innoculation – sawdust, plug or thimble.  Sawdust and plug require wax, thimble does not.   Reference my past picture album with the process for plugs.

5.  Place logs somewhere damp and shaded.

6.  Wait 6-18 months to harvest.


Field and Forest (where I buy all of my spawn)  Tell them I sent you and hopefully they will consider giving Garden Club Members a discount!

25 comments to Episode 151 Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation

  • Blitz1976

    Good timing Jason I just got my spawn and logs! The only logs I could get were some kind of cherry and hickory, so Im hoping they work. Im very interested in the natural cultivation myself. Do you have any resources that give historical details on how they did this? Things like time of year, orientation of logs etc.? Thanks, and another great podcast!


    PS I would like to do a guest post someday when my homestead is more established. I think it would be good to share experiences, especially starting as a newbie for the first time. What do you think?

  • what a small world , field and forest is about 25 miles from my house. i plan on getting over there and getting some mushrooms and some spawn this spring. when i get some time this winter i gotta cut some logs to grow some mushrooms in.hopefully the squrrels wont eat them all . 

  • Jason

    They are good peeps!

  • Jason

    Heck yeah!  I never turn down guest posts!  There’s a paper that I found about the first guy that went to Japan to study this.  Very interesting read.  I’ll try to find it.


  • Blitz1976

    Awesome, thanks for taking the time to do this.

  • Agorculture

    Hi Jason,
    Thank you for the mention and for the kind words on my first post. Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on your website, I really appreciate it! I am encouraged by the feedback. I am honored and look forward to providing more content. I like the crowd-sourcing approach and look forward to reading the guest posts of others.
    Thank you for the show on Shitakes. After hearing you talk about them last year, I inoculated some logs and hope they will start fruiting in the Spring. I am growing a combo of Reishi, Shitake and Oyster mushrooms. I have a Lion’s Mane patch that seems to have died. Thank you for the Field & Forest link- I found a new technique, the Totem technique on their website, which would work well for the spent patch by spreading the sawdust in the bottom of a garbage bag and stacking short logs with the sawdust sandwiched in between. This seems quicker and easier than the plug method. Beeswax is pricy. I used a large can in boiling water to melt the wax on the stove and a paintbrush to apply the wax. I wonder if duck feathers would work?
    I am gluten intolerant, so I am glad that you mentioned that the spawn can have barley and/or rye.
    Lion’s Mane is a nootropic (cognitive enhancer). Reishi and Shitake boost the immune system. (Hope the FDA doesn’t read this.)

  • Jason

    LOL Andrew – Not a problem.  You deserve all the kudos for real. 

    You really branched out with the shrooms.  I need to add some diversity.  I do like the totem method though. 

    You mentioned gluten intolerance.  That wouldn’t apply if the spawn that you innoculate with was in it right?  The original substrate should rot away and they fruit from other places anyways.  Unless I don’t understand gluten intolerance (which might be the case!).
    Take care,

  • Mil

    Hi Jason,
    Great to hear this one as I am planning to grow shiitake and lion’s mane mushrooms. We have found lion’s mane in the wild, but not in the quantities we want! 🙂

    Anyway, a question about laying the logs directly on the ground. I have read that doing that might put the logs in jeopardy because competing fungi might get into the logs. Have you seen any evidence of that on your inoculated logs?


  • Agorculture

    Hi Mil, I love your cooking segments! How do you recommend one prepare and cook Lion’s Mane?
    The notion that competing fungi can invade logs on the ground seems plausible. I have also heard that logs with contact over a large surface area with the ground tend to decompose faster and, thus, wear out sooner.
    Are there any mushrooms that do really well in conifers? I have taken down some very large pine trees and would rather not move the logs and, instead, leave them in place producing mushrooms.

  • Agorculture

    Thanks, Jason!
    I purchased the mushrooms as part of a variety pack. I purchased it from another place, but I think that Soil Cube now carries the spawn.
    If the spawn is cultivated with wheat, barley or rye, I think that if one is careful, the mushrooms can be harvested without gluten contamination, even if the spores have it. More incentive for one to grow themselves or know their farmer!  Paul Stamets demonstrated how Oyster mushrooms can clean up fuel spills!

  • Mil

    Hi Agorculture,
    Thank you!
    Hmmm…I usually cook up lion’s mane like I do chanterelles. I cook them in olive oil and butter with some diced onions and chopped garlic. Don’t forget the salt and pepper! Then you can use them as a side veg, stuff them into tacos, put them on a steak with a nice sauce, add it to a cheese sandwich…

    I know there are mushrooms that grow in conifers, but I haven’t personally found that many in the wild. I wonder if there is something in a pine that prevents many mushrooms from fruiting there. Perhaps call the folks at Field and Forest? I just placed an order with them, and spoke to Joe, one of the owners. He’s a nice guy. Of course, I mentioned SSG when I ordered.

  • M_estefan

    what temp works best for growing them? i live in texas

  • M_estefan

    what temperature can these grow in. i live in texas where summers are HOT

  • Jason

    You should get production just buy a wide range or warm weather spawn.  You might not get as long of a season as I would.

    The logs make in fall and spring.  They basically make anytime they get temps ~50 high and 40 low.  I just plucked two off my first log stack this morning to make a nice mushroom cream sauce for some venison. 


  • Blitz1976

    Hey Jason,
    Quick question. I have about 12 logs of variou species innoculated since last year when I posted this in the spring. I kept them under an overhang and tried to water weekly but didn’t always do it. I did soak them in water for 24 hours to 60 hours too to see if that would help with fruiting. I only got 2 small, dry mushrooms from 2 ofm my logs, the rest have shown no sign. Any ideas? Are the gone forever? Thanks man.


  • Jason


    Are they gone forever – I highly doubt it.  The fact that you got them to fruit (even if its small and dry) means that the mycellium has colonized the logs.  I never water my logs – well ocassionally if I have the rabbit water bucket and dump the extra on them.  But I rarely water them.  I’m not a strong believer in forced fruiting but if you are in a pretty even climate like Texas or Florida it is needed to some degree. 

    What makes the logs bear is shock.  Mine bear well when there’s a quick change in weather and a few days at a consistent 50-60 degrees right around rainy weather. 

    The real question is what medium did you use – sawdust, dowel?  Dowel takes a while.  Mine I did with dowel over a year ago still have not fruited.  They made a few puny dry ones and then went dormant again.  The thimble spawn ones I did 3 months after the dowels and they’ve made probably about 5 pounds or more.  Honestly I’d wait until spring.  I’m betting you will see something then.


  • Blitz1976

    Well that makes me feel better, fingers crossed. Its always great to hear real life feedback from someone who has actually done it. Cheers!

  • Terrihorkan

    I hope I am wrong but I am guessing WI where they will freeze won’t work?

  • Jason

    I’m happy to report that you are wrong.  LOL

    I just got a package today from Field and Forest – mushroom spawn all the way from Wisconsin.  The freeze isn’t a problem, mushrooms in the wild get frozen all the time.  Heck its harder to find a mushroom that will grow in tropical conditions than cold conditions!  About the only climate not suitable for shiitake is desert.  And even then with proper water they will work there.


  • Emmanuel Vamanu

    How you to keep the shiitake logs over the winter season?
    Thank you very much.

  • Jason


    Just let them sit outside stacked.  Nothin to it!

  • […] Shiitake Mushroom Cultivation A podcast by Jason Akers on growing shiitake mushrooms […]

  • Eric

    Hi Jason,

    I’m scouting my woods for trees to cut this fall for shitake innoculation and I’m wondering what are your results with the different types of trees you used. I have oaks maples and hickorys here in MO and Ill probably do my own experimenting but I’d still like to hear your results.