February 13, 2019


Something I've eyed in seed catalogues over the years are mushroom kits. We love mushrooms, but the price for kit always held me back. Sow True Seed, however, sells both kits and plugs. The price of plugs is reasonable, and since we already have all the things we need to plant them, this was a good way to go. I bought two kinds - shiitake and white oyster.

Shiitake and white oyster mushroom plugs, 100 of each.

The plugs are set into live logs, so we scheduled our planting session for February. This is the month Dan designated for a job on our pasture improvement goals - trim low branches overhanging the edges of the pasture.

We invested in a pole saw for this job. Much safer
than climbing a ladder with a large chain saw!

That raised the canopy along the pasture fence line, plus gave us the logs we needed for the mushrooms! According to the excellent instructions provided with the plugs, white oak is recommended as the best. That's exactly what needed to be trimmed back.

Oak limbs in 4-foot sections.

Holes for the plugs are drilled 1 & 1/4 inch deep with a 5/16-inch drill bit. They are spaced six to eight inches apart in rows three to four inches apart.

The plugs are inch-long pieces of dowel that have been scored and inoculated with mushroom spawn.

They are pounded into the drilled holes.

And then coated with beeswax.

I set up a hotplate in the milking room for waxing the plugs.

I marked the ends of the logs with either an "O" for white oyster or an "S" for Shiitaki. The mushrooms themselves look very different so in some ways it shouldn't matter. But you never know.

The instructions said that logs cut more than seven to ten days previously would need to be soaked for 12 to 24 hours. We skipped that step because ours were still freshcut and green.

I waxed the cut ends of the logs and then stacked them behind the goat barn next to the big rain catchment tank. That spot remains in shade all day and will be easy to water if needed.

Now we wait! I read it can take up to a year for a first harvest.

Have you tried to grow mushrooms? How did it go?

Mushrooms © Feb. 2019 by Leigh


  1. How exciting to be able to grow your own, with everything necessary but the affordable plugs! One of Rick's clients used to grow shitakis, and we could get seconds reasonably. They were SO good.

  2. This has been on my list for a few years now. Thankfully, we have a family member we can get morel mushrooms from. With all this winter rain, we may get more this year. Who knows. I'll be learning from watching your posts. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Mushrooms was one thing Adam thought about on our farm, when we first came here. We never did go that route, but I do look forward to seeing what yours do!! That's exciting. Maybe we'll get re-inspired? Good luck!

  4. How interesting. Not being a farmer I never gave much thought to how they are grown. And since mushrooms are regularly found in all groceries, there must be whole farms devoted to just this plant. Funny that I never came across that before. Think I will google it! (what did we do before google, ha!)

  5. Michelle, it must have been nice to know a grower! Too bad they don't do it any more.

    Kristina, I always envy folks who post about going morel hunting. I've never seen them around here! Even so I'm just happy to get started on this project. This is the season for planting them, you know hint, hint LOL

    M.K. it's really been easier than we thought! Once we had the logs it only took a couple of hours to plant 200 plugs. You should go for it!

  6. R.T., they seem like a very easy project for any home. What I really like is the opportunity to grow different gourmet kinds. We may have to experiment with others in the future.

  7. Back when I was young and didn't pay much attention to those sorts of things, my parents planted a bunch of Shiitaki mushrooms the same way you did. The only difference was our was in a wooded patch of land about a mile from home so we had to drive/walk a ways to get to them which wasn't very handy. I remember picking them but wasn't too enthused about eating them at the time. I would love a do over on that aspect because I love mushrooms these days.

    Now that I type this, I have a lot of trees that could use some pruning, including several white oak. I may have to make this a project.

  8. Can't wait to hear how yours turn out. We've tried this medthod three times wihtout success (shiitake both times). We only did two logs each time. We put ours on the lot next door once & in another shady area on the north side of our house which is most likely our downfall because of the other competing fungi around both areas. Putting them under the shed & keeping them moist sounds like a much better way to go.

  9. I've never tried growing my own mushrooms before. to reach that goal. although I figured it would be a fun play with thing to do sometime. I look at plantings towards self sustainability. I'd have to grow 20 lbs worth a year and buying plugs.

  10. Wow! I'm so excited for you -- you finally got a pole saw !!! Omigosh you are going to love that thing! With all your wooded areas, fencelines, cleanup, utility line work it's almost a must-have tool, less work, more safety. Huzzah. (OH and - Yeah yeah yeah - like everyone else, I'm really looking forward to following your mushroom project. Great idea. 'bout time. etc etc.. ;-D LOL)

  11. Ed, if ours were a mile or so from the house they'd be soon forgotten! Or at least very neglected. They do need shade, though, so we thought about this and observed some areas before we got the plugs. I'm glad they're easy to keep an eye on and water.

    Deb, I'm sorry to hear yours didn't work out! What a bummer. I'm making a mental note about competing fungi, though. I hope we don't have a similar problem but it's a possibility.

    Jo, one of the things that kept me from investing in mushroom kits was that I thought I'd have to buy a new kit every year. That was definitely not cost effective! At the Sow True Seed website I learned that they plugs will continue to grow mushrooms for years. I've also run across some how-tos on how to inoculate your own plugs. It's still too early in the project for us to do that, but it's something I will learn how to do in the future.

    Kris, LOL. You tickle me that you're so thrilled about the pole saw. I agree, it's a must have for our kind of vegetation! I also like that it detaches, which makes it very handy for cutting limbs into firewood. Plus it's small enough that Dan will let me use it. His big chain saw was verboten. ;)

  12. I've only ever grown plain mushrooms in the kit. They were bought by mail order & raised in-doors under the bed in the back room. It was a very successful experiment & produced several flushes quickly & for a surprisingly long time. I even got one last crop after I emptied the kit contents into my 'shade garden' after I thought they were all gone. Great fun.

  13. Hey that's exciting, what a great project - can't wait to see how it turns out!!

  14. Have never done it ourselves but do love mushrooms. The shiitake mushrooms are supposedly the most nutritious, but I've found the ones I purchase at our local co-op are not as flavorful as other varieties. I'll be interested to see if yours prove otherwise.

    Years ago an acquaintance of ours in the area started a commercial business growing mushrooms. Well, he almost started it. He built a special building, climate controlled, all the bells and whistles. He gave us a tour and said he planned on selling them to commercial outfits and also individuals. Next thing we knew, he had sold the property (his house, barn, goats and chickens were on the property, too) and moved. :o( We were disappointed when we thought we would have a local source of organically raised mushrooms.

    Maybe you two will give us the push to (finally) try growing our own.

  15. Sharon, I'm glad to hear they did well for you, and made lots of mushrooms!

    Debbie, you all will be the first to know!

    Mama Pea, that's too bad about your neighbor. Mushrooms seem like they could make a nice sideline business for a little extra income. Hopefully our finish will be as easy as our start!

  16. I've never tried growing mushrooms. Looks fun!

  17. Haven't grown any yet, but it's on the list!

  18. Yum!

    I have kicked this idea around for years. Will be watching to see how it goes for you.

  19. Hi Leigh wow you have an amazing blog,glad i found you,i am also your newest follower and i hope you will visit and follow me too.
    We live on 5 acres too but in Australia and a good portion is bush. I love the way you have planted your mushrooms i will be interested to watch their progress,hope you have a lovely day Leigh xx

  20. Wyomingheart, you know what? You need a blog! :)

    Goatldi, hopefully it will go well enough that I can encourage others to jump on in for their own homegrown mushrooms!

    Sheryl, hello and welcome! I've just gotten back from my first visit to your blog and will certainly enjoy following your.

  21. I've always wanted too and I love mushrooms but for some reason they don't like me. So interesting to see! Sometimes it seems like the healthier I eat the more my digestive track rebels! Good job you 2! As always!

  22. we had a box with mushroom compost/mycels here a few years back, but champignon button mushrooms. it was fun at the time, we got 2 pickings out of it. but it came in a polystyrene box (complete kit), which wasn't exactly eco friendly! and you could have bought double the amount of mushrooms in the shop, so it wasn't very economical either! fun to show a kid how mushrooms grow, but we won't do it again I think. and we wouldn't have the logs necessary for shiitake or oyster mushrooms...
    I hope they grow well for you!

  23. Sam, it's funny how that is. I loved duck eggs but they upset Dan's stomach. Not sure why, but it's just the way it is.

    Bettina, that's pretty neat! But you're right it can often be cheaper to just buy them at the store. I'm hoping that with just the plugs (and plenty of them) we can make them worth it.

  24. I can't wait to see how they do! We love oyster mushrooms...any of them. One night Roger came home from work and it was almost dark. He spotted some mushrooms growing about a mile from here. He and my brother took a flashlight and went and picked/gathered them. They were the brown oyster mushrooms...and bigger than any we have ever seen. We froze a lot of them, and they were delicious. If you are interested you can see them:

  25. Rose, thank you for sharing the link. I need to learn to identify mushrooms that grow in my area!

  26. what?! I thought they go in your basement, with a fan, or something LoL! I wish you luck! i loves mushrooms!


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