7. How To Grow Oyster Mushrooms On Logs

Log cultivation of oyster mushrooms is a bit different than bag cultivation. It is applied especially in the countryside, where wood is plenty. I will present here a standard technique (without getting deeper into details) including several steps as follows:

Selecting the proper wood substrate
For growing oysters on logs you may use deciduous wood such as: beech, poplar, oak, alder, birch, maple, etc). You'll have to avoid growing oyster mushrooms on conifer wood substrates (pine, spruce, fir, etc -unless you're sure it was collected on the same substrate). You should cut the logs when the sapwood is full of nutrients: late autumn or early spring. Inoculate them after felling because water content inside them is high at that point. If you're going to use dry wood, you'll need to re-hydrate that by soaking it into water for several days up to a week.

If you will use softwood (poplar, aspen, etc) logs, then you should know that you will get mushroom fruitbodies faster but of lower quality and lower overall mushroom production compared to what you'll get when using hardwood (oak, maple, beech, cherry, etc). but it's going to take a longer untill pinning. Log size is also important and it's directly connected to mushroom fruitbody production and the time until you'll get the first flush of mushrooms.

Tools that you'll need
You will need the following tools:
  • a drilling machine;
  • a hammer;
  • colonized plug spawn or sawdust spawn;
  • wax;
  • a paint brush or a piece of sponge.
  • a pot
  • and a heat source.
Drill holes over the log surface 3-5 cm in depth and 5-10 mm thick (or as thick as your wood dowels are). You can purchase plug spawn or dowels at Fungi Perfecti or instead you may use mycelium grown on wheat or other support or spores. If you will use one of the latter,  you will need cotton to cover up the mycelium when you'll introduce it into the holes. Remember that you have to inoculate only moist logs (see above). If their not freshly felled, then keep them in water for 2 to 3 days.  To a log of 1.5 x 0.3 m wide you should apply around 40 holes in zig-zag covering its entire surface.
Steps to follow:
a) Take a pot and melt the wax;
b) Introduce the freshly purchased dowels into the holes by using a hammer;
c) Isolate each dowel by applying a thin layer of wax above it.

4. Log placement.
Place the freshly inoculated logs outside in the shade away from direct sunlight. Moisture during incubation is essential therefore you must allow rainfall over your logs or to find some other ingenious method to keep your logs moist. In case of poor rainfall you should water your logs from time to time. However, in order to keep logs at an optimal level of moisture and temperature there are several techniques available. One of them is burying the logs into the sand: this technique prevents moisture loss and keeps temperature at a constant level. You should bury the logs vertically at 10-20 cm distance one from another with the inoculated side up and with up to 20 % of log length above ground level. Otherwise, use a hose to spray down the inoculated logs in order to keep moisture.

5.  Pinning induction.
Pinning induction occurs generally after 8-12 months depending on wood type, log size, hole number, strain, environmental conditions and other factors involved into mycelium colonization process. If you inoculated hardwood logs then you should be able to expect pinhead induction in about 12 to 14 months and you will harvest mushrooms for 3 to 4 years. If you used softwood, you will be able to harvest your mushrooms earlier: after 6 to 9 months and you'll harvest mushrooms for 1 to 2 years. Now, there are several methods to stimulate pinning induction such as cold-shock or or log soaking into water. As a general rule stimulating fruitbody formation requires spraying enough water over each inoculated log.

6. Harvesting fresh oyster mushrooms.
Harvest oyster mushrooms 4 to 6 days after pinning induction. During this time keep moisture at an optimal level for fruitbody development. After harvest, keep logs moist and wait up to 2 weeks for the second flush.

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