In a previous article on this site I described the process for growing gourmet mushrooms on hardwood logs in the home garden.
Hardwood log inoculation is a simple and easy way to cultivate loads of shiitake, oyster, maitake, chicken of the woods, reishi, lion’s mane, and other delicious edible or medicinal fungi right in your own backyard.
And one of the best things about growing mushrooms on hardwood logs is that once the mushroom spawn has been introduced you can sit back and enjoy the edible fungi harvest for years to come with absolutely no additional effort.
Nature’s Perfect Solution for Recycling Dead Wood
After producing faithfully for over five years the hardwood logs that I inoculated with shiitake mushroom spawn have finally worn out and decomposed to the point that it’s time for them to be retired.
In some cases the mushroom spawn reduced the Birch and Oak logs to not much more than piles of wood chips and sawdust. In other cases the logs maintained their shapes but became soft and would fall apart under just a little pressure.
The entire life cycle of various fungi that live on and consume wood is nature’s efficient means of decomposing and recycling dead or unhealthy trees. In the process these trees are converted into mushrooms, compost, beneficial soil organisms, and mycorrhizal fungi.
Reaping Rewards from Mushroom Log Production
It was definitely worth the effort involved to grow the mushrooms, and the bumper crops of gourmet shiitakes that were produced and enjoyed over the years would have been very expensive if they had been purchased from a retail market.
I’ve already begun my search for a source of fresh hardwood trees to cut down this winter and inoculate next spring. If you want to learn more about how to grow mushrooms read the following articles on Growing Mushrooms Outdoors, or Mushroom Growing Kits. As with any wild plant don’t consume any mushroom unless you are absolutely certain of its identity and that it is safe to eat!
The decline in production from my mushroom logs doesn’t mean that they have fulfilled their destiny and can no longer serve a useful role in the garden. I’m conducting a little experiment with the remains of my depleted logs.
Coaxing a Few More Shiitake Mushrooms from Depleted Logs
All of the wood fibers, bark, disintegrating logs, and chaff that was left behind will now be used to line the rows in between my raised beds to see if I can stimulate the production of a few more flushes of gourmet shiitake mushrooms.
I laid the spent logs out between the rows along with the wood debris and loose soil that was underneath of the mushroom patch. Then I covered everything with a thick layer of bedding straw and watered it in good.
If the plan works I’ll be harvesting more delicious home grown shiitakes from the garden’s paths this fall. I’ll share the results of this project and post photos if I am successful in coaxing more production out of my mushroom log debris.
Even if my experiment fails I’m sure that the organic matter, mycorrhizal fungi, and other beneficial organisms that remain in the spent logs will serve as a great soil amendment and help improve the growth and health of plants that grow throughout the vegetable garden.
Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts: