Last October I did a workshop on growing Shiitake mushrooms run by the Otways Agroforestry Network. In Japan, Shiitakes are traditionally grown on oak logs, but most commercial growers use blocks of sawdust mixed with chemical fertilisers. One of my former University of Melbourne colleagues, Rowan Reid, and researcher Parsuram Sharm-Luital have published a book on how to grow Shiitake mushrooms on Eucalyptus logs. This is an ideal extra source of revenue for landholders with forested bush blocks (which I hope to live on in the near future). I inoculated two logs with pellets containing Shiitake spores at the workshop. Since then, they have been under shade at the Burnley campus nursery in a damp environment. I brought them home about a month ago and when the weather got cool and damp a few weeks ago, look what appeared:
This is what they looked like ready to harvest:
And harvested when the gills were partially open and the edges still curled under:
About a week ago I soaked the same log overnight in water to initiate more mushroom growth. Unfortunately, the weather turned dry and fine this week and I only have two more small mushrooms growing. I'll have to set up a more humid environment to get more Shiitakes growing. Ideally, the whole log would be covered in mushrooms and then I can repeat the process on the same log every six months. A single log will last about four years until the Shiitake fungi basically consume the log. In nature they are saprophytic, meaning they only grow on dead logs, never on living trees.
And here's Catherine Tate's take on Shiitake mushrooms. It's wrong but funny!