The first shiitake log shocking went well. Onto the next! Was at the family farm for a birthday celebration and so I filled the stock tank there with rain water and dropped in 7 logs. Returned to the farm the following day to remove the logs, and brought a few things back to my place: the stock tank (drained), shocked shiitake logs (5, left 2 at farm for family to enjoy), and remaining logs that are too long for the tank as is and haven’t been shocked yet (3). Now awaiting fruits of the 2nd shocking, and soon to start another 3rd and last shocking for this first batch of inoculated logs. The 2nd and 3rd groups of shocked logs will serve as a loose experiment.
Water quality is lingering on my mind. At the farm there’s rain water catch from the metal roof into a small rain barrel and into buckets. Some of the buckets developed algae/biofilm which concerned me last time, but I got over that by thinking algae and biofilms are a natural occurance anywhere with standing water (or even on rocks in running rivers). This time around, after pouring out one of the buckets into the stock tank, two clamps fell out of the bucket. Turned out those clamps were old/used rat traps, catching mice and chipmunks. To play it safe I drained the stock tank and refilled it with rain water after that. It does make me wonder though, how important is water quality used for shocking shiitake logs? Water quality questions are rarely simple & certain, often having complexities and trade-offs. This is no different.
Building upon that question of water quality shocking, I asked a regional listserv and will do an experiment with the remaining logs in this experimental batch. I brought them and the stock tank home so I could test out shocking the logs with municipal water. While the water quality for drinking is generally more reliable from the city, not having hydrogen sulfide from the farm’s well or other potential contaminants from used buckets or roofs, the city water is chemically treated to help prevent biological contaminants. What’s that going to do for fungus feeding on the soaked logs? My partner and I hypothesize the tap water soaking will result in a worse flush than using rain water, due to the chlorine. Not a perfectly controlled experiment, but we’ll see what happens!
A farming friend asked me how long I waited before shocking my logs, as they just inoculated some this spring/summer and were considering shocking theirs. My reply was as follows, which includes general notes and reflections on the process. I share this here for reference (with minor redaction) in case anyone (myself included) takes a look at how this shiitake batch went.
As mentioned in an earlier post in the shiitake series, mushrooms had recently begun emerging from logs we’d innoculated Spring 2017 and we recently set off to shock some logs into fruting all at once (for more info on the initial natural fruiting, see “Shiitake Emerging On Their Own: 1st Harvest from 1st Inoculation, and Next Steps“). In this post I’ll describe what the shiitake shocking process was like, along with the fruits of these labors – hopefully the first of many!
A year and a half later, mushrooms are popping out of logs here and there 😀
I’ve just begun ‘shocking’ a few logs in cold water overnight, which will lead to a lot more shiitakes soon. Something unique about shiitakes is their ability to have fruiting forced out of them with sudden changes in temperature, such as an ice bath. Over the next week, I expect they’ll produce all the mushrooms they can for now, and then they’ll go dormant for another couple of months (or over winter) before they can fruit again. After I see how this first batch of shocked logs goes, I’ll shock the rest of them (we did a couple dozen though I think some in one of the test locations got too dry to fruit).
Log stack fruiting pre-shocking, with a chipmunk to boot!
Fruits naturally emerging from log stack
Fruits on logs
Sunset evening filling stock tank for shocking shiitakes
Sunset evening of starting shiitake log shocking
Forest flowers through the thicket
Moonrise the evening logs rose out of water
Top of shiitake
Bottom of shiitake
Close up of gills – needs a good brushin
100gal stock tank for shiitake log soaking
Stock tank filled with well water, logs, and cinder block to sink them
Forest to fruit
with a chipmunk to boot!
Trees for the birds nd flowers for the bees
Many a Wonder for you and for me
Wood, Wildlife, Water, Wange (Rangeland, as in land for livestock to live on symbiotically), Wecreation (Recreation)
Flourishing five Ecosystem $ervices like
Food, Fiber, Fuel, Fodder (Animal Feed), and Fun
I&I on the up&up, One Love growing under the Sun
Suited to succession, let inspiration teach a lesson in direction
On & on to the next section (LVX)
This past weekend my partner and I picked up the four logs that remained out in our remote woodlot. They were buried and frozen to the poles I laid out on the ground but we shoveled and kicked them out of place then carried them to the truck to come home with us. I laid the logs up against the garage, under its foot or two of awning, one against the other all gently sloped against a wood pallet against the garage.
Today on the solstice I tried to inoculate those logs. Realizing how difficult drilling the holes was with our low-powered thrifted electric drill I decided I’d just do one log each day. After 1 1/2 rows I knew I’d need to stop at the end of that 2nd row and revisit the process with a better drill. The drill ran very slowly and at that point wouldn’t even drill a complete inch in. For a few of the <1in. holes the shiitake plugs still hammered down flush with the log, but two or three ended up with their tops smashed as they stuck out, shoved into the hole. I sense those mushrooms aren’t happy having their plug ends smashed open, and the wax I got spreads at room temperature but not so well on those smashed plug tops (perhaps due to their wet and fibery texture). I finished pluggin and waxing the 2nd row then set the log back up against the garage.
Started ~24 shiitake logs with the help of friends. Red and sugar maples from the family forest near the mountains, inoculated at the family farm.
We used a pickup for powering an angle grinder, as that worked much better than a 12V cordless drill. We stacked wood pallets as tables. Logs were inoculated with plug spawn from Field & Forest (need to follow up and note the strain, but it was ordered as part of their large plug spawn starter kit in addition to some plugs from a fellow grower who teamed up for this work day. We covered plugs with parafin wax which was applied at room temperature, which didn’t work very well in general and especially because it was fairly cold out. We also had melted cheese wax warmed over an electric stove top heater plugged into the truck, applied via spoons and paint brushes (bristled and spongy kinds); the spongy paint brushes were good and the spoons were preferred by many. My grandma served volunteers sandwiches and we had water and lots of smiles on site.
Text below is from the event description that was shared with volunteers. We had a turn out of about a dozen people and the workshop went well.