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Shiitake (Lentinus Edodes)
Shiitake mushrooms (pronounced Shee ta’ kay) are native to China, Japan, and Korea and have been grown on logs for at least a thousand years. The earliest recorded cultivation was in the Sund Dynasty (960-1127 AD) Today Shiitake are the best mushroom for beginners to grow. The mycelium can clearly be seen growing and maturing on the cut ends of logs and mature Shiitake logs fruits readily when soaking in cold water.
Shiitake, in addition to their delicious taste boast a number of positive nutritional and medicinal qualities. They are an great source of protein plus B vitamins, (2, 5 and 6) vitamin D and 6 trace minerals including magnesium
Shiitake translates to Oak Mushrooms but Shiitake grows happily on a wide variety of hardwood logs and sawdust.
We have 15 strains of Shiitake but unless requested would recommend you try Adam, an all-round ‘wide range strain’ which I have trialled on a variety of log types throughout the UK and Europe for over 20 years.
Shiitake can be grown on freshly cut hard wood logs using dowel or sawdust spawn.
Logs, It is best to cut logs from Autumn to early Spring, before bud-break. Logs are best 10 to 20cm in diameter and around 1m in length. Keep in the shade, you can inoculate immediately but after 6 weeks from cutting the risk of colonisation by wild fungi is greater,
Wood Density, Higher wood density means more lignin which the fungi feed on. Low density softer hardwoods like Willow will grow good mushrooms but produce less that say a Beech log of the same size.
Sapwood to Heartwood Ratio, The sapwood is the living outer ring of wood under the bark which is more favourable for colonization by fungus. The darker heartwood is indigestible to the shiitake fungus. Scottish oak grows very slowly and so has little sapwood. West coast English and Welsh Oak is much preferred.
Bark is one of the most critical factors in successful mushroom production. The logs really have to be manually handled to prevent any damage to the bark. The bark controls moisture loss from the log, tree spp. with thicker bark dry out more slowly. Logs cut in late spring have loose bark which can dry out, crack and fall off the log causing the log to dry out. The same log cut earlier in the year is less likely to have the bark problems.
The hard wood logs we recommend are :-
Group 1 Excellent
Oak, Beech, Hornbeam, Chestnut, Walnut, Chestnut
Group 2 Good
Birch, Aspen, Willow, Maple
Group 3 Poor
Ash, fruit wood (apple, cherry, Pear and other Cyrus spp. )
Group 4 I would not use Sycamore as the bark falls off in sheets, Yew as I do not know if the toxicity of the wood would transfer to the mushrooms,