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How to: Inoculate Logs by Mushroom Species

chicken lion's mane logs maitake mushroom logs nameko oyster phoenix pioppini reishi shiitake


Here are the Basics

Log Selection: Logs must be cut from healthy living trees. NO ROT AT ALL! Plugging your logs must take place zero to two months from the date that the tree was felled, but the sooner the better. Best time of the year to cut is winter into spring when the trees are completely dormant. However, you can inoculate at any time during the winter months. Keep the bark undamaged and as intact as possible. Keep the logs clean and off the ground by stacking on a crate or scraps of wood.


Log Type: Suitable wood species: White Oak, Red Oak, Sweetgum, Ironwood, Maple, Tulip Poplar, River Birch, Cherry, Black Gum, Honey Locust, Black Walnut (lions mane only). In general, oak is THE best for most mushroom varieties. NO black locust, apple, cedar, or Osage Orange. Hemlock will work for reishi and possibly shiitake, provided that it is fresh and free of rot. We highly recommend running all oysters on softer hardwoods like tulip poplar, and saving your oak for other species. (See below for more specific info)


Log Drilling: Drill holes starting two inches from the end of the log and spacing approximately six inches apart. Make the rows of holes three to four inches apart along the girth of each log. For example, a four inch diameter log will have three rows of holes in a line, with each hole in the line six inches apart. Use 5/16 inch bit for plug spawn. Drill the holes 1 1/4 inch deep. If you are using sawdust spawn to inoculate your logs, use a 7/16 drill bit. Drill the holes ½ inch deep. Use an inoculation plunger to insert the sawdust into the drilled holes. Once all the holes that you drilled have been inoculated with either plug or sawdust, wax over with bees or soy wax immediately. Also wax over the ends of the logs, anywhere the bark was nicked or damaged, and anywhere that branches were cut off of the log. A good rule of thumb: For every inch in diameter of log, you will get approximately a year of production.


Log Prep: Soak your logs for 12-24 hours AFTER plugging with spawn. This means starting the soaking immediately after plugging them. Note: if the logs are less than a ten days old, soaking is not necessary.


 soaking logs
(Get creative with what you use to soak your logs in! We use an old busted canoe.)


Log Storage: Stack criss-cross in full shade during the colonization period, preferably off the ground (a pallet works well for this). Keep your logs in full shade in a place with access to water. Keep your logs outside in the elements and do not cover them. Let the rain fall on them.


DO NOT ALLOW THE LOGS TO DRY OUT! However, it is not necessary to soak the logs during the colonization period, unless it is exceedingly dry (If you do not receive rain at least once every 2 weeks, you will need to water your logs). If necessary, a deep soaking is best. This means 12-24 hours of rain, sprinkler, soaker hose or roll them into a stream, pond, kiddie pool, barrel, bath tub, watering trough, etc. Note: The chlorine in municipal water will not hurt the logs. Make sure the bark dries out between soakings. Remember, fewer deeper soakings are best.


Spawn Run: Takes anywhere from four months to two years, depending on mushroom and wood species. Eg. Oyster on poplar- four-six months. Shiitake on White oak -12 months. Be patient…. keep your logs hydrated and they will eventually make mushrooms. Look for the ends of the logs to turn white with mycelium after a soaking rain as a sign that the spawn run is nearly complete. At this point, you can force your logs to fruit by soaking them for 24 hrs. If the weather conditions are right for the species that you are cultivating they will fruit naturally on their own. If you continuously force fruit your logs they will not last as long.


Special notes: Providing shade. North side of house (but not under the eaves, as it needs the rain) is excellent. A simple piece of 80 percent shade cloth draped over the logs works well. Or under the cover of bushes, evergreen trees, etc.


The logs will get lighter in weight over time as the fungus eats the cellulose and converts it into mushrooms. Eventually they will fall apart and be recycled into the earth. A six inch white oak log inoculated with shiitake will produce for five to six years. You can expect roughly a year of production per inch of diameter of log for oak, less for softer hardwoods like poplar. 

Here's the breakdown of how to inoculate logs by mushroom species


Best arranged vertically, or stacked log cabin style. When stacked log cabin style, it is best to put on blocks, pallets, or stones to deter slugs from hiding in places where the logs would be touching the ground. Shiitake logs benefit from a strike to initiate a good flush. Strike the ends with a baseball bat or wooden mallet after soaking, but avoid damaging the bark.
Best Tree species: Oak (red or white), wild cherry, sweetgum, American beech, paper birch, black birch, alder.
Lion's Mane
Lion's Mane:
Patience! Depending on the wood species it can take 1-3 years for it to start producing. To get the largest fruiting bodies, use logs at least 10" in diameter. The bigger the logs, the larger the fruiting bodies. Partially bury logs vertically for best results.
Best Tree Species: 
Short term - Tulip Poplar, Maple, Willow, Pawlownia, Tree of Heaven
Long term - Elm, Oak, Chestnut, Black Walnut
Oyster - 
Cultivate on logs from 4" to as large as you can safely handle. The largest logs can be inoculated totem style. You can also inoculate stumps with oyster mushroom spawn. 
Best Tree Species: Soft woods are best for oyster mushrooms! Tulip Poplar, Maple, Willow, Paulownia, and Tree of Heaven are some of the most successful tree species to inoculate with oyster mushroom spawn.

Phoenix Oyster:
Inoculate the same way that you inoculate all other oyster mushrooms.
Best Tree Species: The only oyster mushroom that we have that fruits on Pine, White Pine, and Fir. 
Pioppini (Black Poplar):
Needs to be cultivated raft style. They preform poorly on logs that are vertical. They can also be inoculated into stumps. Be sure to expose leader roots and inoculate them as much as possible.
Best Tree Species: Both hardwoods and softwoods work for Pioppini. Try it on oak, maple, and wild cherry.
Best suited for logs that are partially buried, vertically or horizontally. You can bury short sections in planters with potting soil. Good candidate for stump cultivate.
Best Tree Species: Performs well on a variety of woods. Best on oak, red maple, hemlock, southern magnolia, sourwood, and gum trees.
Chicken of the Woods
Chicken of the Woods:
Recommended for larger stump style or whole larger logs. Larger logs can be dropped and plugged as they lie to maximize efficiency and minimize labor. Larger logs are recommended because of the inconsistency in larger logs. Larger logs = larger fruitings.
Best Tree Species: Any hardwood (no locust) and most softwoods.
Plug larger logs. Stump method or large 12"+ diameter logs partially buried. Bury logs horizontally, and stumps vertically. 
Best Tree Species: Only plug oak logs.
Needs to be cultivated raft style. They preform poorly on logs that are vertical. They can also be inoculated into stumps. Be sure to expose leader roots and inoculate them as much as possible.


Best Tree Species: Both hardwoods and softwoods work for Nameko. Try it on oak, maple, and wild cherry.

Of course, never consume a mushroom that you haven't positively identified!


Have questions, problems, or would you like more information?... Email us at
Check out Growing Gourmet and Medicinal Mushrooms by Paul Stamets for a more indepth breakdown of growing mushrooms on logs. 
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