Updated: Sep 12
Growing mushrooms on logs is a simple, low-maintenance way to enjoy fresh mushrooms from your backyard for many years. Without the need for a lot of room, you can grow a diverse range of nutrient-dense, organic mushrooms -- even in urban settings and small backyards.
Varieties you can grow in NZ
There are a good variety of different types of edible mushrooms that can be grown on logs in New Zealand. This includes Shiitake, Oyster varieties, Coral Tooth (a.k.a. pekepeke kiore: the NZ-native cousin of Lion’s Mane), Enoki, Turkey Tail (used for medicinal purposes in teas and tinctures) and Tawaka (a.k.a. Poplar Mushroom: NZ-native similar in taste/texture to pioppino or chestnut mushrooms).
Log cultivation doesn’t have the same predictability or consistency as growing mushrooms indoors because of the ranging environmental factors; but it is much less maintenance and closer to the natural-way mushrooms grow in the wild. Growing mushrooms on logs is also more long-term and sustainable, as it can take up to a year to fully colonise and start producing mushrooms. Once a log is fully colonised, it can produce mushrooms twice a year
(spring and autumn) depending on weather conditions.
Types of Logs to use Most types of hardwood will work. This includes alder, beech, elm, aspen, birch, poplar, oak, maple, willow, hickory, fir, gum etc. For poplar and willow, you may want to put the logs in the garage, or in the dark, (off the ground) -- until they stop trying to sprout -- before inoculating with dowels. Fruit trees are less ideal and are known to produce lower yields. Avoid using cedar, black locust, walnut and most conifers.
Ideal Log Size The bigger the log, the longer it will take to colonise and the longer it will produce mushrooms. Ideal size would be 100mm-200mm by 1 meter long, you want to plug your logs within a few months of cutting. The log should be clean, free of dirt (lichens and mosses are ok) and always kept off the ground to avoid unwanted contamination. Logs can be soaked under water for a few days or up to a week before plugging with dowels. Soaking isn’t 100% necessary, but does help the mushroom colonise and take over the log faster.