Sometimes when bloggers don’t post it’s because they haven’t been doing anything worth blogging about. Sometimes it’s because they’ve been doing so much they don’t have time to blog about it; things happen faster than they can photograph them and there isn’t time in-between tasks to sit down and write down what they’ve been doing.
Then sometimes bloggers don’t post because they just don’t.
I’ve been in the last category. I’ve been doing things, taking pictures even, but the sitting down and collecting it all in a post hasn’t been happening much. Maybe it’s the seven year blogger blahs. Who knows? I’m going to try to be better this year. Call it a resolution, call it a well-meaning attempt, just don’t call me late for mushroom inoculating.
Which I was, actually. That is, I inoculated my mushrooms logs too late this year. Ideally mushroom inoculation should be done some time before prolonged periods of temperatures below 18 degrees F. (according to Tradd Cotter’s advice in his book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation). Hopefully, though, since we seldom stay below freezing around here for more than a few days at a time, I’ll be okay.
I inoculate like I blog: after a nice long bout of procrastination.
I inoculated about 25 logs with shiitake and oyster mushroom spawn, both different strains than the shiitake and oyster mushroom spawn I successfully grew last year. I also used the totem method to treat some log sections with nameko and lion’s mane mushroom spawn.
I’ve never tasted nameko OR lion’s mane or seen them in real life, but I’m taking a chance I’m going to like them. That is my brand of living on the edge.
In the above photo you can see my set-up; the sawbuck on the left holding the log, a handy stump table for the corded drill, and a thrift store slow cooker to melt the cheese wax to seal the logs.
I drill holes in a diamond pattern all up and down and all around the logs. They are spaced about 6 inches apart for shiitake. There are recommended spacings for the holes depending on the type of mushroom spawn (shiitake, oyster, etc.) you are using. I don’t always adhere strictly to these rules so if you see some variation, that’s my creative license at work. I use a stop collar on my drill bit so my creativity is stifled regarding the depth of the hole; too deep and the spawn may dry out, too shallow the amount of spawn in the inoculation tool won’t all go in.
Here I jam the inoculation tool into the bag of spawn to fill it with the right amount of the sawdust spawn. Once it’s filled up, it’s the correct, premeasured amount to fill the hole I drilled.
Then I position the inoculation tool over the hole and wham! hit it with a hammer. My tool sticks and won’t work with thumb or palm pressure. I have to wham it in. Even if it didn’t stick, my hand would be swollen and sore for days if I whammed that many logs without the help of a hammer. My hands aren’t as young and resilient as they used to be.
This is how it looks with the sawdust spawn.
The next step is to brush melted wax over the filled holes to seal in the moisture. I use cheese wax I get from the mushroom spawn supplier. I put chunks of it in a heatsafe bowl which I set inside the crock pot. If you are doing this for the first time, here’s a tip: Make sure to turn on the pot at least an hour before you start to drill because it takes quite a long time to melt in the crock pot. Other ways to melt include a camp stove or an electric burner. I like the slow, steady, and safe pace of the crock pot, but plan ahead because you don’t want to be waiting around for your wax to melt once the holes are drilled and the spawn is waiting to be sealed under its nice warm coating of wax.
Careful with the hot wax. And consider an apron; my wool coat now has a nice patch of wax right in the front with sawdust embedded in it.
If you are on the fence about the aluminum labels to tack onto your logs for identification, get them. They’re cheap and they make the logs look very official. (Plus they identify which is which).
Inoculating these 25 logs took me two (almost) full days of pretty tiring work by myself. Next time I work with this much timber I need to have a mushroom inoculation party, invite some people over, serve some good food, and knock this out in one day.