Keeping your reishi mushrooms outside in a wooden block is the easiest way to grow reishi, but takes longer and is not as foolproof as using sawdust blocks. However, reishi grown on logs will yield mushrooms for a few years, until they have used all of the nutrients in the logs.
You can use either a plug culture or a sawdust culture to inoculate the logs. But, the plug spawn is slightly easier for beginners. In the step-by-step tutorial below, you will learn everything you need to know about growing reishi mushrooms on a log using plug spawn.
Step 1: Get The Supplies You’ll Need
The first step to growing reishi on logs is gathering materials and the necessary equipment, including finding the right logs, and ordering reishi spawn.
Find and Cut Logs
You can grow reishi mushrooms in the trunks of most broad-leaved hardwood trees, but some yield better yields than others. Oak, sugar maple, beech, and plumb are good choices that will provide higher yields. Cut hardwood trees that are healthy with their bark intact, preferably when dormant. Dormant trees are brimming with sap, with a higher concentration of nutrients and sugars. Reishi mushrooms can grow on various log sizes, including tree stumps, using either a drilling-and-filling method, or the tree-totem method.
A popular way of growing reishi in the Orient uses shorter logs, between 12 to 20 inches (30 and 50 cm) long, 4 to 6 inches (10 and 15 cm) in diameter. These are then buried upright in a well-draining soil or in a planter. Longer logs, about 3.5 feet (1 metre) long, are usually buried horizontally in soil. If you are planning on using the hole-and-fill method, logs 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter and 36 to 40 inches (91 to 102 cm) in length are ideal. But, for standard, people use logs that are 3 to 6 inches (8 to 15 cm) in diameter.
When to Cut Your Logs
There are two perfect times for cutting a tree. During those times, sugary sap is at its highest concentration and bark is tightest.
The earliest is during fall, after one-third of the trees leaves have changed color. And the second is in the late winter and early spring, before the tree begins budging.
Ideally, try cutting the trunks about 15 to 20 days before you intend to re-inoculate them. Once you have cut your logs, they should be rested at least two weeks prior to inoculation.
This is so that the trees protective systems can shut down. During this time, keep them near the ground, in a shaded, protected location, so they do not dry out. But do not lay on the ground, because lying on the ground or leaf litter can lead to contamination. You may leave the stumps resting for over two weeks, but do not wait longer than one month from colleting the logs to inoculate.
Purchase Reishi Spawn
People typically use the plug spawns for smaller projects up to about ten Logs, which is ideal for new reishi log Growers. You can purchase reishi plug spawn online from a few vendors, with bags of 100, 500, or 1,000 plugs. You will have to figure out how much you will need before buying the plugs. A log that is 36 to 40 inches long (91 to 102 cm) typically requires around 30 to 50 plugs to cover it completely.
- Sealing wax
- A small paintbrush or baster
Step 2: Inoculation of Logs
The first step when sprinkling a plug-spawned log is drilling holes. Start by drilling rows of 1-inch (3-centimeter)-deep holes spaced 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) apart along the length of the log. Rotate your log, and start the next row from 2 to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 cm) from the first, spacing out the holes so that you are creating a diamond-shaped pattern. When you have holes around the entire log, push the plug spawn dowel through each hole. Tap the dowels lightly with your hammer until they are flush with the wood and just under the bark.
Now, you will want to seal up the holes in the plugs with wax, so that mycelium does not dry out, and so that other fungi cannot enter the logs. You can use cheese wax, candle wax, or beeswax for this. First, melt the wax in a double boiler or an old baking pan, and then use a small paintbrush or a wax dauber to paint your holes.
Step 3: Incubation
Once you have the infection, put the stumps into shaded, protected areas that receive a lot of natural rain. During the incubation period, maintaining your logs humidity levels is crucial. If they completely dry out, your mycelium will die. Your logs will require about 1 inch (25mm) of rainfall per week. In drier weather, water your logs once or twice per week to keep them at an adequate humidity.
Logs that are inoculated early in the spring may have mushrooms in place by the fall. But, typically, reishi needs 12 months or longer to completely colonize a log, depending on log size and weather conditions.
Step 4: Fruiting from the Logs
Reishi mushrooms thrive best in warm, moist conditions, typically starting to appear during summer one year after being injected. Reishi tends to produce higher yields if you place the completely inoculated logs into well-drained, sandy soil and cover with 2 inches (5 cm) of topsoil. Burying logs helps to keep the humidity levels up, and can provide additional nutrients to the mycelium. Mushrooms will produce fruits from the logs, while acerbic reishi will poke out of the topsoil and into the fresh air, beginning to flatten out to a cone. It is important to maintain a high humidity level while they are fruiting, and if you live in a windy, dry location, then a greenhouse is probably best for fruiting reishi.
Step 5: Harvesting from the logs
You can harvest your reishi at any stage, but you will have the most prolific harvests if you are patient and wait until they are fully grown. To harvest reishi, cut them off at the base of the stalk, where it is attached to a log, using a sharp knife, pair of gardening scissors, or pruning shears.