How to make a Bed Culture and Log Culture for your home enjoyment of edible mushrooms.
Class taught by Eric Conn at the Whidbey Institute as part of the Learning From the Land program, Spring 2009.
Instructions compiled by Laurie Keith. Photos by Cary Peterson.
The Bed Culture:
Find a shaded area for your mushroom bed. Clear away weeds. It’s OK to leave larger foliage at the sides of the bed that will help shade the area.
Sprinkle a layer of wood chips about 2 inches thick. The best chips are a 50:50 mix of sawdust and woodchips. Chips/sawdust should be fresh…up to 2 weeks old. Hardwoods are the best (alder, poplar, fruit tree wood, black cottonwood. No pine, cedar or holly. Shitake mushrooms like oak.)
Sprinkle mushroom spawn over the chips. We used spawn of the King Stopharia mushroom. You can purchase the spawn (inoculated into wood chips) from various suppliers. Eric likes Fungi Perfecti. Inoculate after all danger of frost is gone and at least 1 month before frost comes in the fall.
Mix the chips in and add more sawdust/chips. Should be 2-4 inch layer of the whole mix.
Water the bed. It needs to stay moist.
Bed needs to be covered…2 methods shown here: locally pulled weeds…comfrey, in this case; and cardboard. As the spawn grows (white stuff throughout), you will need to expand the size of the bed or force fruit it so that it doesn’t die. Every 2-3 years add new spawn. To force fruiting, water 2-3x/day.
You can put spawn plugs or sawdust spawn into logs or stumps. Spawn plugs and sawdust spawn available from mushroom suppliers. Logs need to be relatively newly cut… at least 2 weeks old and less than 2 months old: 6 weeks is best. Older than that there will be competing fungi already inhabiting the log.
These are pre-cut alder logs.
You can drill holes, saw wedges or cut rounds. You then will fill each with either purchased spawn plugs or sawdust spawn….you can make spawn sawdust sandwiches with the layers. Here we are drilling holes.
Here is one of the spawn plugs inoculated with oyster mushroom. Drill a hole for it about 1/4 inch deeper than the length of the plug so you can sink it a bit below the bark surface of the log. Use a 5/16th drill bit.
Here’s a plug about to be hammered into the drilled hole in the log. Space the holes 4 inches apart, staggering the rows to form a diamond pattern of holes along the length and around the circumference of the log.
Hammer them in.
After stuffing/hammering the plug or sawdust into the holes, you cover the raw surface with natural beeswax with a small paintbrush.
Wax heating here on a small burner.
Sawing wedges. The wedge system takes a bit more practice to perfect than the plug system.
Pack the wedge with inoculated sawdust.
Hammer 2-3 long nails through the wedge into the log below snugging the sawdust between them. (hint: put a lot of sawdust in and catch the extra that pops out on a cloth or bag below the log).
Seal with beeswax.
Bigger holes drilled here for the sawdust stuffing method into holes instead of wedges.
Packing them with the sawdust spawn.
And …again, seal with beeswax. Don’t forget to seal the ends of the log with beeswax as well.
Pictured here many stages: making wedges, drilling, hammering, stuffing, sealing…..and..inspecting!
Place log on the north side of a building, shady ravine, a moist forest environment. Ideally somewhere where you have seen happy mushrooms growing. Place off the ground on other logs, a pallet, cinder blocks, etc. If it hasn’t rained, water every 7-10 days for 15-20 mins. After 12 months, initiate fruiting by either soaking the logs in a tank or pond, or watering them with a sprinkler for 24 hours. After soaking, water 2-3 times a day. Fruiting should occur within 2 weeks. This can also all happen naturally some years….with A LOT of rain!