The main considerations in basic log culture are what wood to use; the quality of wood and bark; when to fell. The question of what wood to use depends on the species you want to grow but the most common species of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms grow on hardwood. Ensure that the the wood used isn’t infected with a fungus, that it was a healthy tree, and that inoculation is no more than 4 weeks after felling. The bark quality is also dependant on species but in general you want to avoid the bark peeling away form the log. This is one of reasons why it is better to fell trees in the late winter while the tree is dormant.
Golden Rules of Log Inoculation
- Match Species to Wood Type – check what type of wood the species and strain of mushroom for are trying to grow prefers. For instance, Turkey Tail is very versatile whereas a species such as maitake is not
- Use fresh cut wood – you can’t use old logs, and by that I mean anything over 4 weeks after felled is an issue. Certainly over 6 weeks for most species will see higher failure rate. Turkey tail is an exception but still, best practice is to inoculate within 4 weeks
- But not too fresh! – The tree has natural anti-fungal defences. Leave the logs for 1 week to allow anti-fungal compounds to degrade. So, your ideal inoculation window is between 1-4 weeks.
- Palm/Hand/Thumb Inoculator
12mm Drill bit with depth collar
Camping Gas burner
- Spawn (Sawdust or dowels)
1. Create a work space for your log inoculation. A raised bench using 2-3m lengths of wood placed on two saw horses gives you a light weight, mobile and efficient work surface to roll your logs along as you drill, plug and wax.
2. Before you begin drilling the log you need to remove any snags from branches. The bark should be reasonably free form dirt, moss, and lichen. Use a coarse or even wire brush. Be careful not to damage the bark.
3. Drill holes 4-6 inches apart evenly spaced. The aim is to encourage the fungi to get established in the cambium of the log (below the bark). There is more nutrition available here and the structure is less dense.
4. Plug the holes using your palm inoculator or dowels.
5. Wax over the plugs. Use hot wax and just dab it on. Wax over any scratches or scars in the bark.
6. Wax one or both end is optional.
7. Leave to incubate stacked but not too closely. Allow for good air movement. You may need to protect the logs from birds a they will peck out the sawdust spawn. Cover to protect from getting to wet and rotting but ensure they don’t dry out.
8. Depending on species, size of log, local condition and oter factors they will be ready to fruit in 6-18months. Refer to one of the books in our resources page about stacking options for fruiting.