How to Grow Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms At Home

shiitake mushroom

Everybody loves mushrooms. (Well, almost everybody. I sure do, at least.) Unfortunately, mushrooms fetch a high price in supermarkets, and even worse, they are often subject to pesticides and other harmful chemicals in commercial mushroom factories. What you may not realize is that people have been growing their own mushrooms for hundreds of years, but it’s only recently caught on here in North America. If you don’t have access to land teeming with wild mushrooms, or you are not interested in buying commercial mushrooms, you might consider adding mushrooms to your backyard garden!

Grow Your Own Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are some of the most delicious and highly-prized of the edible fungi, and they are surprisingly easy to grow in your own backyard. There are but a few things you need, including a supply of freshly cut wood, mushroom spawn, and a shady, damp place to store your inoculated mushroom logs.

Mushroom inoculation commonly occurs in the early spring. You will need to find a source of hardwood (such as oak, which is commonly preferred). If you have access to woodland, you can cut your own trees for logs. However you obtain your logs, they should be 40″ long, and approximately 4-6″ in diameter.

Mushroom spawn can be purchased from a variety of suppliers (such as Fungi Perfecti or MushroomPeople) and usually come in the form of dowels or sawdust. Either medium will grant you the same results, but using the sawdust spawn does require the use of a special inoculation tool, which you can also buy from the same suppliers.

After letting the logs rest for three weeks to let the natural fungicides die back, you are ready to inoculate. Drill holes every 6-8″ around the full circumference of the log (and 2″ from either end), and then plug the holes with either your dowels or sawdust spawn. In an old pot, melt some beeswax, and then paint the wax over the holes to protect the spawn. (The beeswax protects the spawn from contaminants as the mycelium runs through the log.)

My shiitake logs stacked up in a shady grove
My shiitake logs stacked up in a shady grove

Finally, stack your logs against a fence, in the fashion of a tipi, or lay them on the ground on a bed of straw. You will want the logs to be in a shady, damp place so that the logs maintain a high moisture level. If the rain is infrequent, you can induce shiitake fruitings by submerging the logs in a body of water or watering them heavily. Either way, expect to see mushrooms in about 6-12 months after the inoculation. Shiitake mushrooms usually appear after a day of rain in the spring, summer, and fall months.

Your shiitake logs will continue to produce fruit for up to eight years, providing you with many harvests of beautiful, delicious, and healthy fungi! Give it a try!

  1. Sofia Ribeiro

    Hi Ziggy,

    Ah, finally a solution that prevents me from spending ridiculous amounts of money everytime I want Shiitake mushrooms! Any suggestions on growing these babies on a balcony?

    Thanks for sharing,

  2. Becky

    Oooh this is something I’ve been thinking about for a while! I’m worried that it might get too hot here…do you know if shiitakis do well in hot weather? We’re also talking about moving within the next few months, and I wonder how the logs would stand up to transport.

  3. Richard @ Eco Living Ideas

    In the UK you can buy logs already infused with shitake spores so you just leave them outside over winter and they start growing, so it’s even easier. On the other hand, arguably not as green to be lugging (or should that be “logging”?!) all that wood around.

  4. ziggy

    Sofia: Well, the logs greatly benefit from ground contact because they maintain a higher moisture content that way. I don’t think a balcony would be that ideal, since then you would have the issue of figuring out how to keep them moist or submerging them somewhere on occasion.

    Becky: They are happiest in the shade and when they are well-watered. I don’t think they would be very productive in a hot and dry climate. I do think they would stand up fine to transport, however. (In fact, I think there are some places that will sell you actual logs already inoculated.)

  5. Savernal

    Now we know why the “Log Lady” in Twin Peaks was toting around that log … it was innoculated with mushroom spawn!

  6. Chrystal Sypolt

    Submerge for how long? Finally found something that will grow here in the valley between the mtns. in West Virginia. Have both a creek and a pond. Very damp. What do you suggest? What do I do with the logs for the 4-6 months of winter? Thanks so much for your time!


  7. peter

    I inoculated a bunch of oak logs last spring up in the Catskills of NY. No mushrooms yet although I am hopeful this spring for some shitake action! It’s definitely wet up there.

    Garlic grows pretty good up there too!

    Tomatoes, not so good.

  8. Marwa

    I am going to try this method in few weeks time from now that would be the start of the fall would that be a good time?
    what about the winter time it gets very cold here in north PA, can i just leave the logs in the snow or should i bring it in the garage or the basement?
    another question do i submerge the logs before or after the Mushroom inoculation?
    thanks you for the great article and hope to read your answers soon to my questions.

  9. Ken D Berry MD

    Great thoughts! Growing your own is a very smart idea. Everyone should try it. Whether it’s herbs, or berries, or mushrooms, the benefits far out-way the small amount of time spent…

    Ken D Berry MD

  10. Helen Guertin

    Hello, Very much enjoyed the info on shiitake mushrooms. Please tell me, if I started now (spring 2011) when would the first mushrooms appear? And how offten would they be producing? Also as for in the woods are there any animals that eat them? We live in upstate Pa. Any bennifit to doing this in a cool damp basement? Is there a quick method to enjoy while we wait?
    Thank you Helen G.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *