What’s wonderful about growing mushrooms, is that it’s accessible for everyone and is made especially easy with a kit. Have you been eying our mushroom grow kits from North Spore and unsure which one is best for your skillset, lifestyle, and climate? Here is our quick start guide to help you decide which grow kit is best for you!
To start, if you are living in an apartment or have limited yard space or hoping to share the magic of mycelium in a fun way with your kids, we recommend our Indoor Grow Kits. The Golden Oyster Mushroom Spray & Grow Kit from North Spore and Lion’s Mane Mushroom Spray & Grow Kit from North Spore are excellent for beginners and produce beautiful and dramatic flushes. They’re easily maintained on a kitchen counter or even in your bathroom, where there is already humidity in the air. But don’t worry if you live in a dry climate, because each indoor kit comes with its own spray bottle for ease of spritzing regularly (kids love this part!). Each kit guarantees at least one flush and up to 3!
If you have more outdoor space and love a good, longer-term project, our Outdoor Grow Kits are for you. To start, here’s a breakdown of our Outdoor Grow Kits and their level of difficulty:
- Shiitake Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Blue Oyster Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Snow Oyster Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Lion’s Mane Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Chestnut Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Hen of the Woods Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Nameko Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
- Reishi Mushroom Outdoor Log Growing Kit from North Spore
After you’ve chosen your preferred mushroom grow kit, the next step is to find the best log(s) for inoculation. See the below chart to see which logs will work best for you.
Sourcing Your Wood
Fresh cut logs from healthy trees make for the best wood to use for growing mushrooms. The logs can be harvested almost any time of the year, however it’s best to avoid springtime between bud swell and full leaf out because most of the nutrients and energy of the tree is being used for flowers and foliage, leaving little left for fungal growth. Also, avoid logs with loose bark, as intact bark is key for successful spawning.
The optimal time of year to harvest a log for mushroom growing is during the fall when about a third of the leaves have changed color or during the late winter or early spring before bud swell. During these times, the sugary sap of the tree will the concentrated in the wood, allowing the most nutrients for mycelial growth.
When considering what size log to cut or source, any size of log will work. Smaller diameter logs will colonize faster. For the purpose of ease when drilling the holes to inoculate with the spore plugs, logs that are at least 4-6” diameter and 3-4’ length is ideal.
The two main methods of log inoculation are the traditional and the totem methods. The traditional method works well for most mushrooms and is an ancient Japanese technique that dates back thousands of years and is still in use today. When inoculated properly, you may get several years of delicious mushroom growth—on average a mushroom log will produce for 1 year per inch of diameter of the log.
It is best to inoculate your logs within a week or two of cutting. This allows the tree cells to die but not so long that the log will be too dry and allow for other competing fungi to grow. One month is the longest length of time to wait between cutting and inoculation, however if you live in an area that is consistently below freezing, your inoculation window may be extended to months.
For drilling methods, a 4-6’’ diameter with a 3-4’ length is ideal.
Larger logs can be used but you don’t want the logs to be so heavy that they are difficult to move.
- Use a 8.5mm or 5/16’’ bit for plug spawn or a 12mm or 7/16’’ bit for sawdust spawn and drill to a depth of 1’’ in a diamond pattern all over the perimeter of the log, omitting the cut ends. We recommend spacing holes four inches apart in rows that are staggered two inches apart.
- Place plugs into your holes and use a hammer or mallet if the fit is snug. If using sawdust spawn use an inoculation tool to push the sawdust spawn into the holes.
- Brush melted wax over each plugged hole. We use a crockpot to melt the wax and a wool dauber or paint brush to apply it. The double boiler method can also be used. Sealing the holes is critical to success because it protects the spawn from drying out and from contamination. Keep in mind that it can be difficult to clean away the wax so allocating a thrift store crockpot or bowl to the job is a good idea.