Maitake or Hen of the Woods, grows prolifically on Oaks throughout the temperate regions of eastern North America. Stumps or logs may be inoculated. We strongly recommend using Oak, Elm, or Maple. After incubation the logs may be partially buried horizontally to initiate fruiting. The fruiting most frequently arise at or near the stump soil interface. This variety often takes many years before fruiting occurs. This amazing mushroom is known in Asian medicine as a powerful immune stimulator!
Our Gourmet Mushroom plugs are made from Certified Organic mushroom spawn. By using these dowels to inoculate your cut logs or stumps, mushroom mycelium can be encouraged to grow throughout the wood. Once the wood has become fully colonized, mushrooms will begin to spring forth from the crack or channels in the wood. This generally takes between 6-12 months, but depending on the species it can take many years, and continues for years and years to come. Here are some basic tips to help you get your mushroom logs started. It is very important NOT to open the bag of plugs until you are ready to begin plugging to prevent any risk of contamination. Before inoculating your logs or stumps, let your Plug Spawn recover from its bumpy journey. The trip through the mail can often cause the mushroom mycelium to temporarily collapse. Your plugs can be stored for up to two months at room temperature, or in the refrigerator for up to about 6 months. Let the plugs sit for 24 hours after you take them out of the refrigerator before use. Generally, the best time of year to begin plugging is in the spring, after your last frost. However, you can inoculate your logs any time up to 3-4 weeks before consistent round the clock freezing temperatures set in for the winter. The idea is to allow the mushroom mycelium enough time to establish itself on the logs before going into dormancy over the winter.
Your logs can be stored indoors in areas where winters are exceptionally harsh. For the most part my mushroom plugs prefer to grow on hard woods, with a few exceptions. You can use either logs or stumps of nonaromatic hardwoods such as Oak, Poplar(cottonwood), elm, maple, and other similar woods are very good candidates for log cultivation. Alder is a good candidate as well, but It must be kept above ground because it will decompose quickly when it is in contact with the soil.
We do not recommend using aromatic woods like eucalyptus or cedar. All of your logs should be cut 1-6 months prior to inoculation. Cutting your logs in the late winter or early spring helps insure that they have high sugar content, although this is not strictly necessary. New fresh cut logs should not be used immediately after cutting. Trees naturally produce anti-fungal compounds, which degrade 2-3 weeks after cutting, so it is best to wait at least 30 days. Aged dead wood is also not recommended for plugging because of its poor nutrient base for supporting mushroom growth.
You should cut your logs to be about 3-4 feet in length, and its best in they do not exceed 14 inches in diameter. Next you are going to drill evenly spaced 2 inch deep holes no more than 4 inches apart using a 5/16" drill bit in a high speed drill. Stumps should be inoculated along the circumference of their face, in the border between the bark and the heartwood. Insert 1plug per hole and hit it in with a hammer. A 3-4 foot log should take about 50 plugs, while a stump usually needs 30-50 plugs. The more plugs you use per log the faster your log will colonize with mycelium, and the faster your mushrooms will begin to fruit. After you are done plugging, the logs can be placed so that they are off the ground, on pallets, cinder blocks, or other logs. Logs can be stacked in crisscross piles to help conserve moisture. Species that must be partially buried should be incubated above ground, and then partially buried when they are ready to fruit. Your logs should be kept in a moist shady area, under dense forest canopy, or a shade cloth. You stumps should also be located in a similar environment. It is important that the moisture is maintained to support the growth of your mushrooms. Water your logs once or twice a week for 5-10 minutes until freezing temperatures or heavy rains begin. If your logs are sealed with wax less watering is needed (1-2 times a month is fine).
We guarantee our Gourmet and Medicinal Mushroom Plug Spawn to be viable. If fact, if the plugs are left unattended on a shelf or in your refrigerator for too long it will likely begin to produce mushrooms right out of the bag! The total number of mushrooms that you can expect to get out of your log or stump will vary from log to log, and from season to season.