Updated: Oct 11, 2022
Now is the time to get your log inoculation supplies together so that you have a bounty of your own mushrooms to enjoy next year. Act now so that your mushrooms are able to fruit when the weather and time is right!
Plugging logs is one of the easiest techniques for growing mushrooms whether you are a beginner or an expert.
Plugging logs takes some planning, however you will love the benefits of high yields and ease of care with this method of growing. The great part is that if you take care of your logs, they can fruit yearly for 3-5 years! (If you're really craving your own grown mushrooms now, check out our Grow Your Own kits and you'll be enjoying them in no time!) I always suggest starting with one species and adding more each year as you learn how to optimize your yields and set your logs up for the most fruiting success.
Fall is a great time for harvesting logs for your mushrooms. As temperatures start to drop in the fall, trees transfer most of their nutrients from the leaves down into the trunks for winter storage. Harvesting your fresh logs in the fall provides the most nutrients, which will set you up for larger yields and consistent results with your mushrooms.
Plug your logs by the end of October to enjoy your first mushrooms around July through November of next year. See step #3 for instructions on storing your logs through the winter.
Follow this simple guide to plugging your own logs.
Step #1 - Gather supplies
First you will need plug or sawdust spawn in the variety of your choice. With four options to choose from, Shiitake is the most forgiving when learning to grow on logs for the first time. If you are plugging them in October, expect fruits sometime between July-September. This means that you will want to choose a WARM or Wide Range variety for success. Another option would be Warm Blue Oysters. See Step #2 to help you choose between sawdust spawn or plugs. Alternatively, cold weather varieties fruit after a cold shock, if you are looking for fresh mushrooms after September, choose a cold variety.
Find logs; fresh is best and you will want to choose a hardwood, preferably oak however alternative options would be pecan or maple. For a full list of alternatives see the individual descriptions of our spawn products. 100 plugs is enough to inoculate 3, four foot hardwood logs.
Supplies: Drill, drill bit (preferably with stop), spawn, hammer or inoculation tool, soy wax and a paint brush. Personally, I prefer to use sawdust spawn with a palm inoculator. Sawdust spawn will inoculate more logs and with the handy tool, the process seems faster to me. Plugs need to be tapped in with a hammer.
Our Log Plugging Kit provides the ideal drill bit, soy wax, a brush and detailed instructions. If you are using plug spawn, then all you will need besides the kit and spawn is a hammer. Pick up a palm or thumb inoculator to use with sawdust spawn and don't forget the kit as you will still need wax and a drill bit.
Step #2 - Plug your logs!
Get set up with all your supplies within reach. Make sure your drill battery is charged! You will want to use hot water, a crockpot or hotplate to melt you wax. Not much heat it needed, use the lowest setting.
If you are using sawdust spawn, grab a clean jar or vessel so that you can dump smaller amounts of sawdust out for use at a time.
Drill holes all around your logs about 4-5 inches apart. Leave bark on the log.
Plug your logs! If you are using plugs, make sure to pound them in until they are flush with the holes. If you are using sawdust spawn, take care to pack your inoculator well.
Brush a layer of wax over each hole as well as both cut ends of your logs.
Step #3 - Find an incubation home for your logs
As your mushroom mycelium colonizes your logs, you will want to make sure that they have an ideal environment for optimal success. This means a place that does not get too cold or too hot, and away from direct sun. If you are in Colorado or a similar climate, I suggest placing them in a shed, greenhouse or garage away from freezing winds. This is especially important when working with warm weather varieties which need warmer temperatures for their colonizing process.
If you must store your logs outside, I suggest stacking them close to the ground and covering them with a tarp or blanket. It also helps to store them next to your house or a shed on the south facing side, away from cold, northern winds.
Stack your logs with scrap boards or extra logs on the ground to elevate your inoculated logs to keep them warmer, off the frozen ground.
Step #4 - Mark your calendar
With most species, your logs will be fully colonized 30-40 weeks from the time of inoculation, so mark your calendar! Around this time you will want to prepare your logs for fruiting. Use a large container such as a kiddie pool to completely submerge and hydrate your logs for 24 hours. After hydrating, stack your logs in a log cabin pattern in a spot away from direct sunlight. Colonization times can differ depending on a lot of factors, so check your logs at least weekly and if you are in a dry climate, watch for any drying.
Be like a mushroom
I hope this blog inspires you to explore the world of mushrooms even further and to take their examples into consideration for your own life. Mushrooms only fruit when conditions are favorable for their survival. If they fruit too late or too early, the fruit can be compromised and they will not successfully produce spores for reproduction. Spores can survive extreme conditions when fruits cannot.
I translate this in my own life with regards to stress and anxiety. If I decide on a certain action or task, stress can force me to worry and act too soon. Instead I try to focus on planning and preparing for when the time is right.