Tree Species for Mushroom Cultivation

Hardwoods are overwhelmingly preferred because they deplete at a much slower rate than softer woods. All the mushroom species discussed in this class are more or less suitable to different log species, with the exception of king stropharia, which is not suitable for log culture.


hardwood deciduous



softer deciduous

choice deciduous

-black locust

-fruit woods




-manitoba maple

-sugar maple


-iron wood




mushroom species to tree species preferences






These species are faster growing and thus very suitable for cultivation on after deciduous logs.


-lion’s mane

-hen of the woods

These species will still work on softer deciduous logs. They may fruit faster, however the productive lifespan of the mushroom log will be dreadfully short.

Log Choice for Mushroom Cultivation


Logs should be freshly harvested 2 - 6 weeks before inoculation.    


Wood cut during maple syrup time (mid March) will theoretically have the highest carbohydrate in its structure of the entire year. That said, wood cut at any other time is perfectly suitable, and I would estimate that the dormant cutting benefit is low.


If cultivating shiitake, which must be forced by soaking, keep in mind you have to move the logs by hand later on.
Bends and crotches work just fine.
* When handling, remember that the bark is the protective skin of the log and needs to be kept intact.

Methods of Mushroom Cultivation

Saw Kerf (oysters)
-kerfs should be at least half the log’s diameter and spaced less than 1” apart

-they can be sealed with anything non-toxic which will keep the slugs out and moisture in.
-soy wax, beeswax, cheese wax, packing tape, or masking tape are optimal sealants.

Dowel Inoculation (shiitake & lion’s mane)

-drill several 7/16” holes, 1 ¼” deep spaced 4-6” apart in offset rows
-tap the dowels in with a mallet or woodblock and seal them in with wax

Alternately, Sawdust plugging (shiitake & lion’s mane) (not shown, though drilling pattern is identical to dowels)

Using a common kitchen funnel and a 10-11mm dowel rod, pack sawdust spawn into each hole, then seal with food-grade wax.

Stump Inoculation (all log-growers)

-firstly, leave yourself a nice, high stump when felling a tree

-cut a 2” ‘cookie’ off the top of the stump
-now you can either:

-place a rock on top of the ‘cookie’ as a weight

-adding a girdle and/or kerf full of spawn lower on the stump will improve success rates

Trenched Log/ Log Raft (reishi, maitake)
-having allowed spawned logs to incubate for about 3 months, bury a number of them in close proximity to one another in a shaded location

-cover the logs with soil or wood chips and a deep layer of mulch (straw or leaves)

Log Aftercare: Stack your logs (if mobile in a tidy arrangement someplace moist with fairly deep shade.  Spawn will take 6-12 months to run, whereupon forced or spontaneous fruiting will begin.

Wood Chip Bed (stropharia, some oyster)

For one 5lb bag of sawdust spawn, anticipate a 50-1002’ wood chip bed.

  1. lay down a layer of cardboard or newspaper upon the existing ground
  2. breakup and sprinkle your sawdust spawn evenly over the bed area
  3. apply a 4-6” layer of fresh hardwood chips, sawdust, straw or hardwood fuel pellets
  4. top with a layer of leaves, straw, or other mulch to maintain moisture

Note: Edging a wood chip bed with trenched logs of a different species is perfectly advisable.

Additional Methods, Growing Media and Spawn Expansion Techniques:

Above all, have fun with this. It needn’t be pricey or labour intensive, and it rewards experimenters and recyclers.



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