04/15/2015 TimberGardener 0Comment

(Mushroom logging actually happened back in April of 2015, so I’m going to cheat and back-date this post.)  

Since this was an April 2015, it might be one of the first ‘homesteading’ activities to happen at our new home!  We ordered several different mushroom plugs from Fungi Perfecti and started collecting the right kinds of wood.

I know this site is called the Timber Garden, dammit our timber is all evergreen.  Our local ‘hardwoods’ are aspen, a baby species of alder, and cottonwood.  Toby’s parents brought out a few real hardwood logs when they visited in the winter, and that really helped us out.  The woods has to be fresh but not too fresh…it has to have moisture but the natural anti-fungal compounds a live tree produces need time to dissipate.  4-6 weeks is about right.

Maitake (Grifola frondosa)
Maitake, or Hen of the Woods, is a mushroom that is often found growing at the base of hardwood trees, in parks in the eastern United States.  Which makes them perfect to live in an oak log half-buried in gravel in our woodsy front yard. Fingers crossed.  They are extremely slow-growing but continue to produce for years.

Chicken of the Woods (Laetiporus sulphureus)
Chicken of the Woods is also known as sulphur shelf for its bright yellow and orange coloring.  These are also often found on hardwoods but can grow happily on Douglas fir.  We had recently cut one down that was too close to the house, so we left a 10′ base and kept a few extra logs.


Phoenix oyster (Pleurotis pulmonarius)
Phoenix oysters are also happy on a Douglas fir.  There are actually oyster mushrooms that are native to the coniferous woodlands that we live in, so of all the attempted mushrooms, the oysters have the best chance!


Blue oyster (Pleurotus ostreatus var. columbinus)
The blue oysters caught our attention when our friend Ashley gave us a kit for Christmas.  They’re delicious!  They also prefers hardwoods, but we used alders and cottonwoods.

We also ‘planted’ several types of mushroom in our garden, see this post for the garden helpers!


The ‘plugging’ process is easy but repetitive.  You can purchase 100 plugs for about $15, which does about 3 small logs. Use a drill bit with the same diameter as the plugs.  Measure the length and then put a tape or other mark around the bit so that you don’t drill deeper than the plug is long (so if the plug is 1″ and 1/4″ diameter, drill hole 1″ deep and 1/4″ around).  Drill holes about 4″ apart.  We have been known to space ours out farther, but it will take longer for the mycelium to populate the log.  Be sure to drill into the ends of the logs, since this is an easy access point for the mycelium.

The tedious part is hammering in all the plugs with a rubber mallet!  Don’t miss any!  No wait, the tedious part might be painting over all the plugs with wax.  The wax stays the right consistency for a surprisingly long time though!

Step 1. Drill the logs with a bit that diameter of your mushroom plugs.
Step 2. WITH THE HELP OF YOUR CAT, brush the ends of the logs with melted wax or paint.
Step 100. After hammering in each tiny, mycelium-inhabited plug into its hole, seal the outside with wax to prevent moisture loss or contamination.

See updates on the mushroom logs here!