How to use mycelium dowels
Starting your own mushroom garden is a fun and rewarding gardening project!
Once the mycelium have spread into the logs you typically can harvest mushrooms for years to come. The logs continue to produce mushrooms as long as there is nutrition left in the log.
Growing mushrooms from logs is not as fast as for example using a grow kit.
So dowels are for the ones that are a bit more patient and want to enjoy mushrooms without having to actively care for a kit.
Please read the whole guide before plugging the dowels into logs to get the best possible results.
Before you start
Storing mycelium dowels.
We recommend that you use the dowels as soon as possible after arrival for the best results.
Mushroom mycelium is a fresh and perishable product and work best if used as fresh as possible.
The dowels can however be stored in an unopened package in room temperature for up to 7 days.
If you need to store them for longer they can be stored in the fridge at 2-4 ° C for up to one month.
If you are not using the whole package at the same time the leftover dowels should be stored in the fridge and used in 1 week.
When should I fell the trees?
You can fell trees to use for mushroom logs almost any time during the year.
It is however not recommended to fell trees for mushroom log use in the spring during the time between buds swelling and full leaf bloom.
During this period the trees focus all their energy on developing foliage and flowers. So there is not much nutrition left in the stem for mushroom growth.
You get the best results from your logs and better longevity if you fell the trees that you want to use for mushroom logs in the early fall when around 1/3 of leaves have changed colors or during late winter to early spring before buds have started to form.
If you live in a cold climate (for example in the Nordics) and want to inoculate logs during the fall we recommended that you protect the logs from freezing temperatures. You can keep overwinter the logs in an heated space or cover them up with leaves, blankets and tarps.
Once the logs have produced their first harvest you can just keep them outside during winter.
You can use any size log to make mushroom logs.
As long as the bark is intact.
It is however handy to cut up the log into 50-100 cm lengths to they are easier to handle. When cutting up the logs make sure to keep the bark intact.
When you have felled the trees the logs should be plugged with dowels within 1-2 weeks. In that time frame the cells in the tree have died but they have not yet dried out. Competing fungi strains should not have taken hold in the wood either.
Older logs that are drier can be used but the risk of failure is larger when using them.
If you decide to use older logs we recommend that you submerge them into a water bath overnight before you start plugging dowels into them.
If you fell trees for mushroom logs during the winter and the temperatures are consistently below 0 °C the period when you can plug the logs are significantly longer. Just cover the logs up with some snow and return to plug them during early spring.
Choosing tree species for your logs.
Most mushrooms that we sell mycelium dowels of do not grow very well on coniferous trees.
They might grow but the harvests will not be that large.
Therefore, we recommend that you use logs of hardwood trees.
Beech, aspen and birch are safe bets.
Shiitake and Lion's mane perform best on Beech logs but also grow well on birch logs.
Aspen is the best choice for Oysters and Chestnut but also perform well on birch logs.
Shiitake however does not grow that well on aspen logs.
Using your mycelium dowels
Drill holes in the log at about 10 cm apart with a 10 mm drill.
The holes should be as deep as the dowels.
Rotate the log and make a new row of holes about 10 cm from the previous row.
Put the first hole in the new row between the first two holes in the previous row so that you end up with a diamond pattern.
Continue drilling holes until you get all the way around the log.
Insert the mycelium dowels into the holes that you have drilled.
Hit the mycelium dowels all the way into in the holes you drilled with a hammer.
The end of the dowels should be flush with the bark.
Cover the end of the dowels with protective wax.
If there are small damaged areas in the bark it is good to also cover those with wax..
Do not cover the ends of the log with wax.
Mark the logs with mushroom type and date when they were plugged.
Place the logs outside in a shaded place.
We recommend placing them horisontally close to each other and close to the ground.
Just leave leave a small air space of 2-3 cm between every log.
The logs should not be in direct contact with the ground during the period when the mycelium is taking over the wood.
Place something under the logs to lift a couple of centimeters of the ground. For example a plank or some branches.
Now the waiting game begins.
Caring for your logs
When can I start harvesting mushrooms?
How long it takes until you can harvest the first mushrooms from your log is depending on what species you are growing, the growth environment, the wood species and the size of the log itself.
So it is hard to give an good estimate.
The timespan can be anything between 6 months to 2 years.
In most cases it however takes 1 year.
The smaller the log it the faster it starts producing. But smaller logs do not have as long lifespans since they decompose faster.
In general logs need a bit cooler weather and moisture to produce mushrooms. So production from the logs will be slower during the summer and pick up again during the fall.
If you plug your logs with dowels during the spring you might see the first harvest during the fall. But it is more likely that they will start producing a year after being plugged.
If you plug during the fall you should not expect mushrooms until the next fall.
How do I care for the logs?
Unless you live in a colder climate and plug the dowels during the fall there is not really that much maintenance that needs to be done to the logs.
If long periods of dry weather occurs it is good to water the logs.
The best way to water the logs is to submerge them in a water bath over night.
When you have bathed your logs you simply stack them back the same way you had them before.
Restocking the logs.
Once you have started to see mushrooms sprouting from the logs or 1 year have elapsed since you plugged the dowels you can restack your logs.
You can lean the logs upright against a fence, a wall or a fence to increase the airflow and make picking easier.
You can also make stack the logs in a "log cabin" manner.
If you live in an dry environment the log cabin should not be stacked higher than 60 cm.
In other cases you can stack the logs as high as 120 cm.