Back in 2004 my sister wrangled a few of us into helping inoculate a couple dozen oak logs with shitake spawn. This involved drilling holes along the length of the four-foot log, filling each hole with spawn, then covering the hole with melted beeswax. As I recall it was a lot of work, as each log had many holes.
Since then, though, we've enjoyed several shiitake harvests. The logs have moved a couple times I think. Most recently they've resided with our parents at Winterberry Farm. Since they are not overly fond of the mushrooms, I thought the logs could come spend some time with us here in southeast New Hampshire. After removing the overtopping white pines from our woods this winter, the remaining hardwood forest offers perfect shade and conditions for growing shiitakes. My parents brought the logs up a few weekends ago and the crib fit nicely into our woods.
Mushrooms of course like moisture, so I turned the hose on them for a time since they'd dried out over the winter. That was completely unnecessary. I think it has rained every day since. Although we are feeling a little over-watered, the shiitakes burst forth in all this rain. Each day they get a little bigger. I think shiitakes will be part of our Friday night dinner menu. I counted 36 shiitakes on the these logs, so some will be stored in the fridge in a paper bag.
I've read that the productive life for these logs is 8 to 10 years, so we may be coming to the end of the shiitake years for this crib. Might be time to start a new one. We've begun looking about for oak trees about 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
Whenever I feel gloomy about the weather, which is fairly often these days, I look out my window at the shiitake crib. Not only are the shiitakes sprouting but the flower and vegetable gardens seem to be flourishing too. The potatoes, radishes, and small white turnips have sprouted in the last few days. I even saw a ruby-throated hummingbird at the bleeding heart this cold, rainy afternoon. The birds and the bees could use some sun sooner than later.