Lately, my neighbours cut a large branch off the oak that grows right on our shared property border and I got two pieces of the wood to grow mushrooms on them. I used Shiitake-inoculated wooden dowels for this and now I’ll have to wait for about half a year or the logs to become fully colonized.

Procedure of inoculating logs with mushroom mycelium:

  1. Get hands on some freshly cut wood (not older than 2 months or so). If using oak wood, even let it sit for two months in order for the contained tannic acids to be dissipated a little, these would otherwise inhibit mycelium growth. The logs should be up to 50 cm in length (mine are 40 cm), and up to 20 cm in diameter (mine are 15 cm).
  2. Water the wood thoroughly for about 24 hrs. Don’t overdo it though – you want them soaked but not spongy.
  3. With clean hands, open the sealed bag of mycelium dowels and submerge them in cold, clean water for about 1 hour. Mine were 8mm in diameter.
  4. Also with clean hands grab a wood drill one size larger than the dowels (so I used 9mm). The wood will be soaked and swollen and the dowels will fit into the slightly larger holes snugly and without stripping off the mycelium while inserting. Drill evenly spaced holes of matching depth all over the upper two thirds of your log. You will need about 20 dowels for a 50 cm log and about 10 of them for logs smaller than 40 cm.
  5. Using a hammer, plug the freshly drilled holes with the soaked dowels and close the openings with molten candle wax. Paraffin wax is better than beeswax because it doesnt shrink and brittle up so much under cold conditions.
  6. Take a planting pot or bucket sized 20 cm wider than your logs (so you’ll have about 10 cm curcumferential space), make sure it has draining holes. Fill one third with coarse gravel for drainage, put in a layer of potting soil and add a log upright. Fill the pot up to the rim snugly with more potting soil.
  7. Put the buckets in a shady, moist place outside and keep them moist (especially in summer). A good hint is to place some moss on the cut surface to prevent moisture loss and you can cover the circumference of the logs in the pot with some clean straw.
  8. They take about 3 months up to one year (depending on the size of the logs) to fully colonize, but you may harvest mushrooms even before that. If growing Shiitake, sprouting can be encouraged by pounding the buckets on the ground for a few times.

This is my way, there are many others, but this one works so far. Have fun!