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Plug Spawn: Grow Mushrooms on Logs & Stumps

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Fungi Perfecti offers plug spawn of a number of hardy mushroom species: Reishi, Maitake, Lion's Mane, Shiitake, Pearl and Phoenix Oyster, Chicken of the Woods and Turkey Tail. These sterilized birch plugs are spirally grooved and fully colonized by pure mushroom mycelium, and are available in packages of approximately 100 dowels (our Shiitake Plug Spawn is also available in packages of approximately 1000 dowels). Our Plug Spawn comes complete with our user-friendly, fully illustrated 14-page instruction booklet.

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Shiitake mushrooms growing on oak logs

By using the dowels to inoculate cut hardwood logs or stumps, mushroom mycelium can be encouraged to grow throughout or colonize the wood. Once the wood is fully colonized (typically 9-12 months) mushrooms will spring forth from cracks or channels in the wood. Generally, the best time of year to inoculate logs and stumps is in the Spring, after your last hard frost. However, you can inoculate your logs any time up to 30-45 days before consistently (i.e. 'round the clock) freezing temperatures set in for the Winter. The idea is to allow the mushroom mycelium growing on the Plug Spawn time to establish itself in its new home before it goes into dormancy over the Winter. Logs can be left outdoors over the Winter, under a layer of straw or a burlap tarp, shade cloth or other vapor-permeable cover (do not use plastic tarps: this can cause mold to form). In areas where the Winter is exceptionally harsh, logs can be stored in a shed, barn, garage or other outbuilding.

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Pearl Oyster mushrooms growing on a cottonwood log

Our Plug Spawn prefers to grow on hardwoods, with the exception of the Phoenix Oyster, which grows well on firs. Most species can be grown on either logs or stumps. Non-aromatic hardwoods such as oak, poplar (cottonwood), elm, maple and similar woods are very good candidates for log cultivation. Alder is a good wood for the cultivation of Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, but must be kept above ground because it will decompose quickly in contact with the soil. (We do not recommend using aromatic woods such as cedar or pine.) Thick-barked woods are preferable over "paper-bark" woods such as birch, and any log that is shedding it's bark should not be used. Logs should be cut at least two weeks in advance of plugging. Cutting your logs in the late Winter or early Spring helps to insure that they have a high sugar content, although this is not strictly necessary. Freshly-cut logs should not be immediately inoculated; trees naturally produce anti-fungal compounds, which degrade in two to three weeks from cutting. Aged deadwood is also not recommended for plugging, as it has a poor nutrient base for supporting mushroom growth. Logs or stumps with fine cracks (called "checks") running through them are more quickly colonized with mushroom mycelium than those without.

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Reishi mushrooms growing from an alder log partially buried in a flower pot

Logs should be cut to lengths of 3-4 feet, and are best if they do not exceed 14 inches in diameter. Use a 5/16" drill bit in a high-speed drill to drill 2-inch deep holes no more than 4 inches apart, evenly spaced in a "diamond" pattern along the length and around the full circumference of the logs. Stumps should be inoculated along the circumference of their face, in the border between the bark and the heartwood. Insert 1 plug per hole and whack it in with a hammer. A 3-4 foot log can take 50 or more plugs, while stumps usually hold 30-50 plugs The more plugs you use per log, the faster the wood will be colonized with mushroom mycelium. Holes can be sealed with cheese wax or beeswax to protect the mycelium from weather and insects while it is growing; although this step can be helpful, it is not absolutely necessary.

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Characteristic "mottling" of mycelium on the end of a log that is ready to produce mushrooms

We guarantee our Mushroom Plug Spawn to be viable. (In fact, if left unattended on a shelf or in your refrigerator for too long, many of our Plug Spawn species will begin to produce mushrooms right out of the bag!) However, the total number of mushrooms you can expect to get via log and stump cultivation will vary from log to log, and from season to season. Any outdoor mushroom cultivation project involves a number of variables; climate, species, sugar and moisture content of wood, consumption of mushrooms or mushroom mycelium by insects and other animals, quality of care and just plain old chance, to name a few. Due to the many and various contributing factors involved in this method of mushroom cultivation, Fungi Perfecti cannot accurately predict the amount of mushrooms your Plug Spawn will produce.

 

 

Customer Testimonials

Shiitake Log

Photo courtesy of Albert

Greetings! Fungi are full of surprises. Attached are a couple of photos taken today. This is on sweetgum. A couple more logs that I soaked have a few on them as well, but not this many yet.

This log was from a tree we needed to get rid of anyway. My sons had lots of fun drilling holes and driving in plugs, so there was recreation/entertainment value. I probably put two whole dollars worth of plugs into this log. You reckon I got my money's worth?

–Albert

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Photo courtesy of Justin K

I really wanted to thank you for the mushroom spawn!! I have had great success with your spawn and the restaurants love the mushrooms I grow. My logs have done remarkably well, almost unbelievable flushes of Shiitakes and Tree Oysters. A big hit are the Blue Oysters. My friend makes a mock calamari with these that is just nuts.

–Justin K

 

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Photo courtesy of Craig Cassel

I planted the Miatake plug spores in the roots of trees on my land here in Pennsylvania in April of 2009. I selected 5 old red oak trees which are declining in health due to their age. (I drilled the holes right at the junction of the root and soil.) After plugging the trees I sealed the holes with wax. That first year (2010) was very wet and I harvested 50 lbs of Maitake from 3 trees. 2010 was a very dry summer and fall and the trees produced nothing. This year 2011 with the highest rainfall total on record for the month of Sept. I have now harvested 2 flushes of Maitake the first was 20 lbs. and the second was 50 lbs. from 4 of the trees. The picture shows my friend Bob’s children holding 2 of the large specimens from the second harvest. I actually harvested 7 of these and 2 were too large for the kids to hold.

Craig Cassel

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Photo courtesy of Chris Rush

Dear Paul and the Gang,

Last Spring I inoculated some hardwood logs with Oyster dowels, purchased from Fungi Perfecti. Check out the photos of the logs, which are currently fruiting. Thank you for helping me to start a much needed mushroom business, here in Southern California.

Thank you,
Chris Rush

I just wanted to share these. I ordered some shiitake sawdust spawn and inoculated several water oak logs back in May 05. I had my first fruiting a couple of weeks ago and it was incredible! I brought them out of the woods while fruiting (so the squirrels etc wouldn't get into them). I live on the northeast FL coast. Not bad for a first timer!

–Bailey Struss

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Photo courtesy of Baily Struss

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Photo courtesy of Joe Levine

Dear Mr. Stamets,

I live on the Florida gulf coast. Hurricane Ivan cost us two oak trees. Three months later I decided to recycle some of the wood with your shiitake plug spawn. After nine months we got our first flush. The enclosed photos are from the fifth flush. Rarely does a product exceed expectations. Yours did.

Thank you,
Joe Levine

An Important Note for our Customers in the Hawaiian Islands

The Hawaii State Department of Agriculture has recently increased their restrictions on the importation of live mushroom mycelium into the islands. This affects the sale of Fungi Perfecti's Indoor and Outdoor Mushroom Patches, Plug Spawn for Log and Stump Cultivation, and Pure Mushroom Spawn and Cultures. Customers in Hawaii wishing to purchase any of these products will need to first apply for and receive an Import Permit from the HSDA Plant Quarantine Branch. Additionally, importation of our MycoGrow™ products is completely prohibited.

The permit can be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat format online here. If you have further questions, you can contact Fungi Perfecti or speak directly to Amy Takahashi at the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, 1428 S. King Street, Honolulu, HI 96814. Phone: (808) 832-0589.