NEW Offering! Mushroom Bolts! (logs)
I am always looking for new ways to utilize what we get from the woods, especially the things that are left to rot. Now to be sure, a certain amount of rotting material is necessary for a healthy woodlot, this is how nutrients are returned to the soil and the growth cycle continues. But it is not necessary to have everything go to rot, this takes a long time and can lead to messy wood lots that choke out new growth of desirable species. So a certain amount of balance is in order. Most loggers dislike dealing with the tops of trees and smaller branches that are unmarketable and usually too small to be bothered with for firewood. They cannot support the operating cost of their equipment and crews on small wood. Much of this wood is chipped and used for road repair after the cutting operations close down, or sold as mulch, or just dumped back in the woods.
Enter the little guy (me) who doesn’t have big equipment to feed and make payments on and is not afraid of some manual work.
Mushroom growing is gaining in popularity throughout our region and all over the world. It has been part of many cultures for many centuries. Growing Mushrooms is not very difficult until you get into larger scales and can be profitable even for small growers as a side business, or just for fun. There are many suppliers of the materials around the country for log inoculation supplies and references. North Spore, up in Maine is just one such supplier. Many of the Farm and cooperative extensions have classes and videos to teach folks how to get started. Cornell Cooperative extension through the mywoodlot.com website has 2 video series on growing Shiitake Mushrooms. First series here, and second series here. You can even buy a kit all ready to go, just to get your feet wet. Cornell has extensive information available through their Small Farms Program.
The one weak spot in getting started seems to be logs. These are costly to ship through the mail (and frankly, not legal either if they cross state lines). Loggers will sometimes be talked into taking some time and cutting and handling these bolts for a few growers, but many will not. I know many loggers that have done this once or twice but have not pursued it any further than that.
This is a closet industry in that most growers work form their own homes, farms, or wood lots and ‘don’t get out much’. Log suppliers are best found close to home and it is a relationship. What does the grower need and want? How much? When do they want it? Everything matters. This is not at all like firewood sales where the longer it sits, the more it dries, and the more valuable it becomes (to a point). Mushroom logs cannot sit around for long periods to be viable.
The details. Logs are best when cut as the tree lays dormant, December to February is best, but certainly no later than when the buds begin to grow and swell. The logs should be small 4-6″ diameter by 36-48″ long depending on the growers needs. They must be handled carefully so as to not damage the bark, which usually means a lot of hand work. The log itself should have as much sapwood as possible. These should be delivered within a few weeks of cutting unless they are stored properly out of the sun and kept moist. All of the above has variations depending on which reference you learn from, there is latitude in everything here, but the gist is that you have to start with good logs.
Now to all the above, you add the question of ‘which species of tree is right for my mushrooms?” Here is a good reference of what mushrooms grow in what tree species. Again, you can see that there is a lot of latitude. Most of the smaller growers I speak with want only White Oak for growing Shiitakes, but growing experts say almost any Oak, Sugar Maple, or Beech, black Birch, Cherry, Basswood, and many others will work just fine. SO you see there is a lot of variety and options building up in the forgoing specifications. I can’t just ‘go cut some stuff and try to sell it”. That won’t work.
So here is my deal: Contact me if you want these logs and do it soon. I will harvest to order until the demand changes. I need to develop supply routes for these logs, and I need to build a relationship with you, the client. White Oak is tough to find around here, I will get it when I can, but Red Oak is abundant. If you want to get into Mushroom growing, or are already in it and are looking for a log source, why not give me a try? I will start taking orders today, but delivery will be later in the Winter or early spring. I can deliver. I can supply as few as one log if you want to try it, but I won’t deliver small quantities, sorry. Let know know your desired wood species and well as any alternatives, the length, min/max diameters, and quantity and we will work something out. Comments and general questions can be left below. My initial pricing will be $3.00 a bolt until we both learn what works for us. Here is a link to an information PDF on buying (and selling) Mushroom logs that might also help.
Lastly, if you have questions about growing, please do not ask me. I don’t know anything about growing, but following the references above will lead you to some very good resources. Ask an expert, not me. Use my contact page to send me your requirements. Comments and general questions can be left below, as always.