Mushroom trees grow Shiitake, Oyster, Maitake and Enoki mushrooms. Morel mushrooms are grown on the forest floor.
Sawlogs should be cut in the dormant season when stored nutrient level is highest. January is a great month to prepare logs. They should be cut into 2 or 3-foot lengths and about 16 inches in diameter so they are easier to handle by hand. Once cut, wait at least 2-3 weeks before you inoculate. A living tree will fight and reject the spawn. Each log should produce a pound of mushrooms per year for five years or more, or every inch of its radius from its core so a 16-inch log should produce a pound or more for approximately 7 years before it breaks down.
Spores are purchased as plugs set out in trays. To hasten mushroom growth, it is important to cover the entire face of the log with drill holes a little larger and deeper than the plug. Once all the drill holes are filled with spawn, it will take a year or so until the first mushrooms appear.
Logs can be orientated vertically or horizontally. Large diameter logs should be used for growing mushrooms vertically. The large base will ensure stability through each season. Vertical logs have the advantage of exposing more area for mushroom growth. Its also advisable to only pick 20% of the mushrooms each year to keep growing mushrooms year after year.
Forest Floor Inoculation
Some varieties of mushrooms like Morels are better suited for forest floor inoculation. Morel mushroom spore is mixed with water to create a type of slurry. Adding some molasses will provide natural sugars to germinate the spores.
The next step is to identify suitable tree species such as ash, elm and fruit trees for inoculation. Trees should be at least 8 inches in diameter so the tree will have a fairly developed spreading root system. Spread the slurry over the ground in a tight circle about 8 feet across. Alternatively, you can dig down a little and expose a few lengths of root and spread the slurry directly on top. It is important to slurry tree roots one at a time and cover immediately before the spores have a chance to dry out.
With some advance planning, young trees already inoculated by third party providers can be inter-planted throughout the plantation. This would be the fastest method to Morel growing mushroom production.
Types Of Mushrooms
Many varieties of mushrooms are found growing in the forests and woodlots of Northern Europe, North America and Asia. Almost all wild mushrooms are poisonous. Only a few are considered edible and need decaying hardwoods as a growing substrate.
Shiitake mushrooms grow naturally in the wet, dark forests of Southeast Asia. Shiitake mushrooms will grows well on specific types of deciduous trees including poplar, beech, oak, sweet gum, ironwood and Chinese chinquapin. Until the late sixties, only traditional growing methods were used for growing mushrooms. This involved cutting trees into 10-foot logs and laying them down on the forest floor one beside the other next to a Shiitake mushroom outgrowth. A year or two after cutting, spores from the Shiitake mushroom outgrowth would populate the cut logs. Today, Shiitake mushrooms are cultivated all over the world thanks in part to new cultivation methods developed by American plant breeders. Shiitake mushrooms are used in traditional Chinese medicine and culinary dishes including Japanese miso soup and Chinese Buddha’s delight.
Oyster mushrooms are sometimes called “tree mushrooms” and for good reason. In the wild they are almost always found growing on the sides of tree trunks. Oyster mushrooms are one the most cultivated mushrooms in the world because they are easy to grow, profitable and popular with consumers. Oyster mushrooms are known as “gilled mushrooms” and typically grow without a stem. They grow in layers, one staked on top of another attached to tree bark. Oyster mushrooms grow on both tropical and temperate hardwoods such as oak. Oyster mushrooms are popular in a stir-fry and meat recipes, particularly beef and pork dishes.
Maitake mushrooms for the most part grow on downed oak trees in their natural habitat. In Europe Maitake mushrooms are called the “hen-of-the-woods” because it tastes a little like chicken when cooked. Maitake mushrooms have been used by Chinese and Japanese herbalists for centuries to balance the body. New research has revealed Cancer fighting properties able to stimulate a patient’s immune system. Maitake mushrooms have been found to naturally lower blood sugar levels in diabetics.
Another Asian mushroom, Enoki mushroom grows in the wild on the “enoki tree” of Japan. Wild Enoki mushrooms are different from cultivated Enoki in that they are smaller and not as flavorful. Wild Enoki grow large stems, which are wider at the bottom than the top forming a sort of “foot” at the base. They are also dark colored, typically many shades of brown. Cultivated Enoki grow in lightless conditions so they can be harvested white. Enoki mushrooms are popular in Japanese dishes like sukiyaki and nabemono.
The Morel Mushroom may be the most popular mushroom of all, particularly in North America and Europe. Used mostly in French cuisine, The Morel mushroom are popular sliced lengthways and fried. Morel mushrooms grow predominately on the forest floor near the base of hardwood trees. Morel spawn root near the base of trees so they can reach and feed off tree roots just under the soil surface. Tree types for Morel growth include ash, elm and even apple, which is why orchards are popular with Morel hunters.