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Growing Mushrooms On Logs in NZ

Updated: Apr 10

Growing mushrooms on logs is a simple, low-maintenance way to enjoy fresh, quality mushrooms from your backyard for many years. Without the need for a lot of room, you can grow a diverse range of delicious nutrient-dense 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 (usually 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. This size log would typically take six months to a year to fully colonise before producing mushrooms, lasting up to several years. 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. If logs are not freshly cut and a bit dry, they can be soaked under water for a few days or up to a week before plugging with dowels. Soaking isn’t 100% necessary, but it can help the mushroom colonise and take over the log faster.

Plugging Logs with Dowels

You will need:

Step 1 - Drill holes, about 32-35mm deep, in rows, all over the log, about 15cm-20cm apart, starting 50mm from the edge of the log. Rows should be spaced about 7-10cm apart, forming a diamond pattern.

Step 2 - Hammer your >> ready-to-go inoculated dowels in to your drilled-holes immediately.

Step 3 - Melt >> wax at high-heat (almost to smoking point) and apply to plugged dowels and the ends of the logs. This helps with moisture retention and protects from unwanted competitors.

Step 4 - Find a good place for your log, in a shady-area out of direct sunlight, and keep the log off the soil for the first 6-12 months to help avoid competition from other fungi. Logs should be kept out of direct frost in colder climates.

Step 5 - Water your logs over summer every two weeks, or along with the rest of your garden. For best results, soak logs underwater, for 24 hours, in the middle and end of summer.

Step 6 - Keep an eye out for mushrooms from four months to a year. Well colonised logs will turn white on the ends (this is mycelium or mushroom roots). Naturally, the mushrooms will come out around autumn/spring when the temperature drops/rises but the air is humid, usually after rainfall. Mushrooms can grow and mature within a few days so keep an eye out during mushroom season!

You can ‘force fruit’ logs and trick them into producing mushrooms once fully colonised by soaking in cold water for 12-24 hours. The log will keep producing mushrooms until it runs out of nutrients, the general rule of thumb is 1 year of production per 2.5cm (1in) of diameter.

Using the 'totem method'

An even-simpler method than using dowels is 'the totem method.' For this all you need is a chainsaw, sawdust spawn of choice, and a decent-sized log -- so that you can stack it up like a tiki. Larger diameter logs are ideal, about 300mm wide or wider. Basically, all you need to do is to cut your log into rings, about 200mm apart, re-stack them (in your chosen spot) with a 1-2in layer of broken up sawdust spawn in between each layer. Placing in a spot with some sort of support available could be necessary - depending on your log diameter and height. The log still requires shade to prevent drying out in the sun. For ours, we simply put burlap sacks over the logs and make sure to water them often in summer.

Ordering Spawn For Totems:

To order sawdust spawn for mushroom totems follow the below links:

Phoenix Grey Oyster Mushroom: >> Grey Oyster Sawdust Spawn

Pink Oyster Mushroom: >> Pink Oyster Sawdust Spawn (Simply break up the pink oyster sawdust block and use as spawn*):

Shiitake Mushrooms: >> Shiitake Sawdust Spawn (Simply break up the shiitake sawdust block and use as spawn*):

*Please leave a note at checkout if you are ordering the blocks for sawdust spawn as I will send younger blocks that are more suitable for spawn.

Harvesting Mushrooms Although it is reasonably unlikely another species will grow on the log, it is definitely possible that another wood-rotting variety of mushroom could grow in its place. It is therefore important to be able to properly identify the intended mushroom before harvesting. Our available varieties are relatively distinct, especially if you know what to expect. When growing logs outside, it is best to pick your mushrooms earlier rather than later -- to avoid bugs getting at them first.

Further Reading:

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Does an inoculated log need to be outside? Could it live inside a garage?


can i grow mushrooms in large oak slabs 70mm thick

Replying to

Hey, slabs aren't ideal you really want the bark on to help hold in moisture and the mycelium grows through the wood and under the bark. Better off to use whole logs :)


Hi there, Where can I find wooden logs to inoculate shiitake plugs in Wellington? Thanks

Replying to

Thank you for the idea. Looking for logs in Wellington also. Do those logs in Magpie Lawn simply lie loose eg. like broken branches?

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