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How to Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are the easiest mushrooms to grow, especially for beginners. They are easy to maintain. Not only this, but they also give you higher yields for more extended periods compared to other types of mushrooms. You not only enjoy the taste of these delicious mushrooms, but you can also grow them indoors and can enjoy the fresh mushrooms.

There are various methods of growing them indoors or outdoors. You can also grow them on a small or large scale. From this article, you can learn about the benefits and growing them.

Why Grow Shiitake Mushrooms?

Health Benefit

Shiitake mushrooms are right for your health. They contain elements that boost the immune system, prevent heart problems, and can also help your body to fight tumors and cancer. These mushrooms have a low percentage of sodium and calories. Moreover, they are rich in B vitamins, fibers, and minerals.

Greater Yields

Shitake mushrooms can give you average 3 to 5 flushes of mushrooms if you grow them on sawdust or grain. They give you higher yields when you grow them on logs. Logs can provide you mushrooms every five weeks for four to six years.

Don’t think that your precious time and money are going to waste by spending on them. The mushrooms will themselves pay you off, even more than that. Think about the cost you have to pay if you have to buy them from the market.

Moreover, getting your fresh mushrooms at home is a blessing. You will also end up with a hobby and can also teach your children about nature.

Delicious Taste

Mushrooms are not only healthy but also have a great flavor, and you can also use them in different cuisines. Though, market mushrooms can’t beat the taste of delicious and fresh home mushrooms.

Easy to Grow

Shiitake mushrooms are the most natural mushrooms to grow indoors. Even the beginner gardeners can quickly grow them.


You need few items to grow shiitake mushrooms, beside dowel plugs and hardwood logs. If you are planning to start with a shiitake growing kit for indoor plantation, everything is already available for you. But those who are looking forward to growing handful shiitake mushrooms then they will need the following things:

  1. 100 Spawn Plugs fro Shiitake Mushrooms, and you can use them for two to three logs
  2. Safe wax for food such as beeswax, mushroom wax, or cheese wax
  3. Hardwood logs, it’s diameter should be four to six inches and three to four feet long
  4. Paintbrush and daubers for applying wax
  5. 5/16 inches Drill Bit and its stop collar
  6. Electric Drill

How to Grow Shiitake Mushroom?

There are many steps which you have to follow to get results of your hard work. Some levels are easy and don’t take too much time. And some of them need little precautions. The steps you have to follow are:


Before starting, you have to select the best substrate to grow shiitake mushrooms. After you make a decision, then purchase the supplies you will need.

Choosing a Substrate

Your mushrooms will start establishing on the substrate as mycelium. Mushrooms use them as a food source for their growth and to produce their fruit body.

Not to mention, shiitake mushrooms don’t grow everywhere like the others such as oyster mushrooms, which can grow on cardboards, coffee grounds, or most of the places. Shiitake mushrooms are picky and need a wood material for growing medium to flourish and to achieve their required nutrients. This aspect is the reason why the options are limited. You can only produce them on logs and blocks of sawdust.

However, sawdust or sawdust pellets are easy to handle for you compare to fresh logs. It is an excellent option if you live in a city. But if you are choosing a wood substrate, then pick the one drawn up from deciduous hardwoods. The best woods to grow mushrooms are maple, oak, ironwood, and beech.

Moreover, if you are using logs, then remember, the fresher they are, the better they are. If you can cut the logs of a tree and later the same day, inoculate them, this will be great. The reason is that if you leave the logs for some time, it has a higher risk of fungus growth. Of course, you don’t want to use the logs which have fungus colony on them.

You have to avoid the logs which have lichen or moss on it, or if you see any signs of fungi or mold present or growing in the wood.

Make sure that logs should be 3 to 6 inches in diameter and 3 to 4 feet in length. If you are using pellets or sawdust for growing mushrooms, then you have to either buy or make some form of containers or bags to keep the substrate at any place.

Getting Spawn

Spawn helps to grow mushrooms, and it is a live mycelium. It is like seeds are essential for growing vegetables and fruits. The strains of shiitake mushrooms don’t have differences that you can see in various strains of oyster and subspecies mushrooms.

Shiitake mushrooms are mostly the same, including their size, shape, and color.

Strains are available in different types and for use in different weathers. There are strains for warm weather, cold weather, and many others. These strains are best for beginners to start with a wide range of strains. However, most of the sellers don’t mention the names of the strains they are selling. But if you have a choice between various strains, then purchase WR46. This strain is beginners friendly.

Shiitake spawn is available in different forms. Your choice of spawn will depend on your planning of growing shiitake mushrooms.

Moreover, people who grow shiitake mushrooms on a large scale use sawdust spawn. You can use sawdust spawn to inoculate sawdust blocks or can insert them into the logs by using a unique tool for inoculation.

If you are not willing to do all the work by yourself and need a solution to do it easily, you can purchase pre-inoculated kits or logs. After buying them, you don’t have to do the initial work.

1. Prepare Your Shiitake Mushroom Substrate

You don’t need to pasteurize all the Shiitake mushrooms substrates. Some of them are already ready for you.

  • Already pasteurized sawdust pellets. During the pellet manufacturing process, they go through under extreme pressure and heat. So, you don’t need to make some extra efforts on them.
  • If you have bought sawdust pellets, soak them for 30 minutes, and break the pellets in pieces to convert them into sawdust.
  • Fresh logs also don’t need pasteurization.
  • If you are using fresh sawdust or straw, you have to pasteurize your substrate. For pasteurization, soak them into the hot water with a temperature of 149 to 176 degrees for 1 to 2 hours. You can also use a lime bath with a high pH value for about 12 to 18 hours.
  • For the commercial production of shiitake mushrooms, substrates combined with nitrogen supplements during its preparation. But, it is not necessary if you are growing them for the hobby. If you are using straw or grain, you may have to add supplements to them. Since they are low in nutrients for the mycelium than wood. However, you don’t have to enrich the logs.

2. Inoculation

· Inoculate your logs

If you are planning for outdoor planting, you need to inoculate logs with shiitake spawn. Also, you will get better results if you inoculate them in spring after the danger of frost. Logs need holes for the inoculation. For creating holes in the log, you have to use a power drill. The holes should be slightly larger than the spawn so that you can easily inject spawn in them, but not too big.

You can use a 12 mm drill to make holes for sawdust spawn and plug spawn. If you are having a problem with the size of the hole, you can take help from the spawn suppliers. They will guide you about the drill bit size. Make sure to wear protective eye and ear gears before start drilling to keep wood chinks away from them.

Drill holes one inch deep after every six inches on the whole length of the log. When you complete drilling on one row, rotate it and start drilling another row six inches away from this one.

Keep drilling the holes until you cover the entire circumference of the log. You can see a pattern of polka dot or checkerboard on the log, once you have finished.

If you are using spawn dowels, you only have to infuse them into the holes. Hammer them until they come in contact with the inner surface of the log. You will need 50 plugs for a three-foot-long log.

Moreover, if you are growing mushrooms with sawdust spawn, you can use the inoculating tool. For this, you have to place some sawdust on the tool and then force them into the drilled holes. After you fill with each hole, then you need to seal them by applying wax on the top of the hole. Make sure to cover the entire hole from the wax, so that other organisms don’t get away to enter into the logs.

· ​Sawdust, Straw, or Grain

If you have planning to grow shiitake mushrooms indoor. Clean the surface, which you will use for the working and wash your hands properly before starting the process. But those who want to grow shiitake mushrooms outdoor will face difficulty in maintaining cleanliness. To prevent contamination, you can keep shiitake substrate in bags and also try to keep them moist.

If you are growing mushrooms outdoor and on a wood chip bed, then you can start the process by keeping the sawdust in the bags. These bags help mycelium to grow correctly, and their survival rate will also increase. You can produce more mushrooms by taking this precaution.

Before using the substrate, you have to check that they are not too dry or too wet. For this, you can squeeze your straw or sawdust. If they are wet, a couple of drops will come out.

However, if you see too many droplets coming out, then it is too wet. And if you see that no water is coming out and you can’t even hold the substrate because it is falling, then this is too much dry.

Once you check water proportion, combine the substrate with the spawn. It is better to mix them in a container than mixing them inside a sawdust bag.

After the mixing, put them into your bag and close them with a rubber band or tape. Make tiny holes in the bag for the air exchange. But you don’t have to make holes if you are using growing bags with filter patches.

3. Incubation

Shiitake mushrooms need longer incubation time than the other species of mushrooms. Because of this process, the whole procedure of shiitake mushrooms is longer than the different types of mushrooms.

· Logs and Wood Chips

Logs incubation time is 6 to 12 months. Put your logs in a shady place, and they should not touch the ground. You can use a brick or wooden pallet to keep them above from the ground. This way, you can prevent competing fungi from attacking the logs.

If you don’t have any shady place to keep the logs, you can use any breathable fabric to cover them. This way, you can keep them away from sun and moisture can also enter into the fabric. Don’t cover them with any plastic material. It can help in the production of molds.

If you experience regular rain in your area, then you don’t have to water them. But if not, then you have to water shiitake logs one time a week for more than 10 minutes.

Moreover, people who live in dry climate need to give water to their logs twice a week and for more than 10 minutes. You don’t need to water your logs if the temperature is below freezing. If they get water in these days, your logs will start losing barks or begin to break. Follow the same procedure of water and instruction of shade for them, if you are using wood chips.

· Bags

Keep your bags in the dark place or under any shaded area, but the place should be at room temperature. Your bags don’t need water and other maintenance when the mycelium is growing on them. If you are using sawdust, grain, or straw for the production of shiitake, then the white mycelium will be colonized in the bags in two to three months.

However, like the other mushroom species, the white mycelium doesn’t give you a signal of a fruit. They will provide you with a signal by turning into a brown color. After the whole mycelium starts to transform into a brownish color, you can start fruiting.

4. Fruiting

· Logs

Sometimes, shiitake mushroom starts giving fruit without your help when they get ready. But mostly, you need to initiate shiitake mushrooms, or you need it to provide them with a shock to produce fruit.

Shiitake mushrooms usually give fruit after six months. But it is better that you should wait for 9 to 12 months before initiating them after the mycelium colony spread on the entire log.

To start initiating your logs, veil them in cold water for about 24 hours. The pond will be an excellent choice for this step if you have one. But make sure it should be clean. You can also submerge them in the bathtub or the kid’s swimming pools.

You can use boil water, rainwater, or any non-chlorinated water. You can also use the water of the garden hose if this is the only choice for you. Once you have done with soaking your logs for a day, keep them back on the shady place. And place them in an upright position. This way, all the holes are in the air, and when the mushrooms start forming, they will not get dirty from the ground.

You will see primordia growth on the logs between two days and two weeks. They have a little pin-like structure, which later converts into the mushrooms. Keep the logs moist by watering them one to two times a day for 5 minutes during this procedure.

· Bags

Open your bags after the mycelium spreads entirely into the substrate. Place the block of spawn where they can get plenty of humid air. At this stage, the growth of shiitake mushrooms is faster on the substrate and can produce mushrooms in a week.

Water your spawn blocks a couple of times a day. In this way, they will remain moist and healthy. Shiitake mushrooms can grow faster when they get plenty of water. So, you can water them every few hours.

Spawn blocks can produce 3 to 5 mushroom flushes, but after that, mycelium starts getting weak and lose its ability to produce mushrooms. During this time, your blocks can also become contaminated.

5. Harvesting

There is no particular size to harvest shiitake mushrooms. Although, the small ones are more tender than the big size mushrooms. The best tool to harvest shiitakes is a knife. You can cut them from the base of their stem. Don’t try to harvest them by twisting their body. This will damage your mycelium, and you may have got fewer flushes of mushrooms in the future.

Incubating your shitake takes a longer time, but this will reward you in the long run. These logs can give you mushrooms for 4 to 6 years. After that, you must replace your logs.

After harvesting, you can get a new flush of mushrooms every 5 to 6 weeks. Only you have to soak the logs into the water for 24 hours. Moreover, always give water to your logs 2 to 3 times a week to keep them moist. But don’t water them during the freezing days.

Boosting Vitamin D in Shiitake Mushrooms

Vitamin D is essential for the metabolism and immune system. You can easily increase vitamin D in your shiitake mushrooms by keeping them under the sun in a way that the gill side gets exposed to the sun. You have to put them there for 24 to 48 hours.

This can boost the vitamin D2 in shiitake mushrooms if you take 100 grams, 100 International Units (IU) increases in mushrooms.

Bottom Line

Growing things are fun, but only when you get your fruit, which you waiter for a long time. Some people don’t grow mushrooms only because they find it difficult. But it is not true. There are many types of mushrooms that you can grow easily indoor or outdoor. Even some of them are the easiest things to grow in your homes, such as shiitake mushrooms.

Shitake mushrooms are perfect for the new farmers. Beginners can start growing them in a small place. They will take time for the inoculation, but after that, you will get flushes of mushrooms that you can’t get in any other species. Moreover, you can start with little investment, and after that, the mushrooms will pay off for themselves.

You can even start selling them in the stores. They have high values in the market and sold at high prices. And if you don’t want to sell them, you can enjoy fresh and delicious home mushrooms by making a variety of food from your mushrooms.

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What started as a personal experience to improve my overall health by growing my own food has turned into a mission to share my experience and my own research. Growing your own food and eating healthier food is something that everyone has to try.

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