During January there was a fierce windstorm here. It blew down the limbs of the Douglas Fir in our backyard:
Being homesteaders, we decided that the logs shouldn’t be wasted, but what could they be used for? (Other than firewood). Earlier in the season we had observed the growth of Turkey Tail Mushrooms on the Privet bush. We harvested those and made tea with them. We wished we had a bigger harvest of them, but then the colder weather set in and their growth was stopped.
We then realized that we could utilize the fallen limbs for growing Turkey Tails. It just so happens that Turkey Tails are one of the few species of edible mushroom that will grow on pine, so we were in luck! We had a fresh supply of pine logs and a species of mushroom that likes to eat them. It was time to order some plug spawn: the little wood pellets that are pre-innoculated with mushroom mycelium. Here’s the pictorial story of the process:
First we cut the limbs into workable size logs:
Then we discovered that we needed a larger bit than the largest one we had in our kit. We picked up a 5/16″ drill bit and started drilling:
Dig that old drill, it works great, it’s got a keyed chuck. These days they’re made keyless.
The holes had to be 1 & 1/4″ deep. It took awhile – the wood was fresh and strong. Once the drilling was complete it was time to hammer the plugs into the logs – here’s how they looked after insertion:
Next it was time to wax the plug holes. We used beeswax for it’s lack of petroleum. Soy wax can also be used. The purpose of waxing is to prevent competing fungi from colonizing the logs before the mushrooms do. It improves the success rate. Here’s some pics of the waxing process:
The final step after doing all this is to water the logs. This can usually be accomplished by setting them outdoors and letting the natural rain water them, however since it’s winter the temperature is too cold for them to be outside. They need temps of 40° F (4.44° C) or higher. We soaked them in the bathtub and are storing them in the garage until winter passes. Then we’ll set them out to hang from the loop system we created by drilling a hole in the top and passing wire through. While they’re in the garage we’ll be keeping an eye on them and watering them when they’re dry. Other than that, all we have to do now is wait. They should fruit within 6-12 months, and there are some things we can do at that time to help them do that. For now though, our work is done.
I hope you enjoyed this article and I’ll update on the progress of this project later this year.
Thanks for reading 🙂