Growing mushrooms from plugs


I watched a video on how to plug logs so that’s why I did it the way I did. I was thinking of adding more on the ends like you show once my other plugs get inoculated. I probably could have done my whole log pile then with the plugs I had. I still have a bit more than half to do. I’ve been hearing about incubation period. Is there something special I need to do for that? I just ordered 100 Pearl Oyster plugs. I think I’ll look for more trees to cut. I also ordered 1,000 dry plugs for $24 with free shipping. My jar is starting to spread more too. I can put saw dust chips in holes too. I wonder if I shook it up to spread it around if it would help or hurt the process?


Shaking it a bit should help…that would be good to web-search. Using grown-out sawdust/chips to start a batch of wooden plugs is how that’s done, I think. The official grow bags have breathing filters…ya might wanna look into that. I gave up on all that and have just bought inoculated plugs. It is fun to explore, though. Doing it without contamination is borderline miraculous. Not sure of the context of ‘incubation period.’ Generally, it’s the time before fruiting when the mycelium is spreading. Temperature and moisture level is important.
Oysters are supposed to be easy to grow; i should do them, too. I think they will work on hay bales or ??..I gotta look that up.


From what I have read is that they just use plugs with plugs. Putting saw dust in was my idea of getting more. They do say to shake it all up before use to separate it and spread it around but that’s all I could find on the web. I’m afraid to open the jar till it’s time. I don’t want mold to set in. That’s what happened to my Portabella on cardboard in coffee can.


I’m pretty sure they use grain spawn to inoculate the plugs, at least Fungi Perfecti does. My plugs had bits of what looked like barley here and there.


Have never tried it…!!


the industry standard mushroom grain is rye. Johnny, in my experience eventually the whole jar will colonize. I have had jars that started to colonize, then got invaded by mold and failed, so leaving it alone is a good idea.


Yah…agreed all around…rye/grain is good, that’s how I started; then sawdust/turnings/chips can be fruited in bags once the mycelium takes over. In various settings, when the white mycelium gets to the edge, the end of its medium, it makes a brown ‘skin’ that seals it off; that’s when the bag can be opened and put in fruiting mode; and (when some of that develops) the plugs are ready for use.
The people here in Corvallis that propagate mycelium have a HEPA filter, laminar flow, hood fan area where they can open bags at will. Without that, it’s best to not open the jar/bag/container…to do so usually results in many-colored, pretty but stinky things growing.


Remembering back to my first foray into Shiitake growing, I had never ordered plugs or else I wouldn’t have been dealing with sawdust and bags…I got my ‘start’ from live tissue. ‘They’ say it can’t be done but when I had my bag of cooked rye, etc., ready, I went to the grocery store and bought the biggest, healthiest Shiitake they had and performed surgery on it, removing an inner cube of mushroom meat, which went into my rye stuff. That, in time, was spread through five bags of cooked (mostly Mytlewood) hardwood turnings and a variety of additives that I just thought sounded good. Eventually, I had 5 producing blocks…zero contamination…odds = 1:1,000 (estimate, ha ha). So, live tissue culture is possible. This could be useful for capturing Oysters and other domesticatable (made that up) fungi in the wilds.


I cut circles of cardboard and layered with portabella cuttings from the store. The circles were dampened and placed in a coffee can. It grew mycelium but died from me opening and fanning it with the coffee can lid. Then it grew green mold. It’s still in my basement. I need to throw it out yet. I want to try again but this time I want to sterilize and use a vented bag. They use brewers spent barley grains and grow mushrooms from bags. I brew so next time Im trying it. I’ll be eating mushrooms on, and with everything if I ever get this to work. I have always loved mushrooms, mostly the white buttons you get in the store. I wonder how many logs will be to many for a family of three? I’m going to end up around 25 or so.


I’d throw out that can without opening it…serious. There are some really nasty blue and green molds. Primary decomposers such as Shiitake, Oyster, and a few other edibles will grow on logs, hay, ‘sawdust’ etc., but many mushrooms won’t. Agaricus bisporus, yer basic white button and cremini mushrooms, won’t grow like Shiitakes and Oysters. I’ve never staggered the flushes though I’m going to make my next logs smaller and easy to move around, and then I will. With 25 logs that would be the way to go.


I inoculated five more logs with Pearl Oyster plugs. I used a bag of 96 plugs. The other four I used to inoculate some oak wood saw dust. I added chunks of oak to make air pockets and some coffee grounds this time. I also used a coffee filter for the cap so it can breath. After boiling I spread the substrate on a cookie sheet and baked at 350 deg for 1/2 hour and then shut the stove off. This dried it up some so it wasn’t soaking wet. I let that sit till I was done plugging the logs. I waxed the ends on these ones. There was mycelium in the bag the plugs came in so I put a scoop of substrate in the bag and rubbed it in. This is all just a fun experiment but if it works I will get some benefit in mushrooms too. My blank plugs 1000 5/16" X 1" that I bought off of ebay for $24 is still in shipping. It came with free shipping but I didn’t catch it was coming from China! Now they wont be here for about three more or so weeks. Two of the smaller logs were from a thorn tree of some sort. They are a solid wood so we’ll see how they work. I knew it was going to rain so I put everything in the garage and worked today in the dry garage. We didn’t work today because of the rain so I wanted to get this done. I might have to learn how to make cream of mushroom soup!" width=“690” height=“517”>



Not sure this belongs here, but this is a video of John Donoghue of Northwest Mycological Consultants, with the Organism…just so that if you contact them you know who you’re dealing with (they’re the best).



Conventional wisdom (and you can take that for whatever its worth) says that you don’t really need to worry about “air space” or “breathing.” Now, I don’t care if you do or don’t, I just wanted to throw out the “flip sides”. There are reasons to pack tight with sawdust and wax over the top, like keeping pill bugs and slugs out of the logs, to also consider.

Your mileage may (always) vary.

Also, look up the Totem method, it is less effective for slow stuff like shiitakes, but popular for oyster mushrooms. If you can’t find info elsewhere, there’s some on Field and Forest’s website.

As for me: just found 2 shiitake on logs in my tree-yard, all covered in sand and grit. Time to move my logs to the north side of the house for fruiting…


I read that the totem pole stacking method was better for oyster. I thought they meant to stand the plugged logs on end. I should have looked that up further because the article I was reading only mentioned it. Thanks for bringing it back up. I looked at a few articles on the subject and I think it sounds like a great way to use sawdust spawn. I made coffee grain spawn too with oysters from the grocery store. My logs are all mixed up but I could cut them again and add more spawn at the ends and cap them off. They are plugged and waxed right now. I might just leave these that way now that I’m so busy with the orchard and planting. Here is what I thought would be a good way to do it.
Thanks for the suggestion. @markalbob


@ampersand How are your logs looking? I’m not sure if mine are doing anything. The plugs look a bit white but not sure. The ends of my logs are getting dark. That has me worried too.


Look like logs still…not sure if you can tell any difference for a while?


I was checking logs today, we’ve had unusually cool weather and lots of rain the last week or so (50s at night some days!). I’m fairly confident one of my logs is fruiting!


Anyone who’s done this before know if this looks like shiitake mushrooms to be? The black spots in the center, bottom, are what I am referring to.


The black spots don’t look good. The whitening around the plugs looks good. Usually the easiest place to see it is on the end of the log.
John S