Mushroom cultivation

La Taillede is renowned for it’s wild mushrooms and there are many species that grow here depending on the season.

There are many local people who come up here to collect them, but the information on where the best ones grow is a very closely guarded secret!

While we are slowly learning where they grow and more importantly which ones are edible I have been reading lots about cultivating mushrooms using logs cut from the forest as a substrate.

The benefits of this would be twofold:

  • Biomass: In theory we could grow a large amount of mushrooms in a small area by building a pile of logs and seeding them with the spawn.

  • Safety and regrowth: Once the mycelia have fully colonized a log other species will not grow on it. So you can be sure that you know what you are picking! In theory we could then add fresh logs to the pile which would hopefully be colonized by the existing mycelia.

About 15 months ago we ordered some shiitake and Oyster mushroom spawn plugs to try and grow our own.

Hardwoods seem to be better than softwoods so we cut a mixture of trees including silver birch and poplar. We avoided sweet chestnut knowing how long the wood lasts outside due to the strong tannin it contains. Hence why we use it for fence posts!

We drilled holes in the logs at regular intervals, filled the holes with the spawn plugs and sealed them with hot wax. We then piled them up in a shady area of the forest.

Nothing happened for nearly 18 months but in the last couple of weeks magical things have started to happen!

The shiitake have not taken as well, from the reading I’ve done since we started they seem harder to grow and may need to be immersed in water to stimulate them. Apparently they also prefer oak (shiitake literally means oak mushroom in Japanese!) However the Oyster mushrooms have taken off and more and more are appearing every day.

Now they have taken hold I am thinking of moving them to another (safer) fenced area of the land where they will be safe from any wildlife that may eat them, including the mushroom picking 2 legged ones!

If you have any experience of growing mushrooms outside please comment below, this is a massive learning curve for us but could be a good source of food and income as well so I am keen to make it work.

Oyster mushrooms growing on silver birch and poplar logs.

Oyster mushrooms growing on silver birch and poplar logs.

We dug some of the logs into the wet soil. This seems to work well too.

We dug some of the logs into the wet soil. This seems to work well too.