Local workshop teaches how to propagate Shiitake mushrooms
Eric Fresia prepares to inoculate a sugar maple log with shiitake mushroom spores as part of a workshop on how to propagate mushrooms held this past Saturday in Amherst. The workshop was part of a local food security workshop series being hosted by the Ecology Action Centre's Community Food Programmer for Cumberland County Su Morin, in partnership with Athol Forestry.
AMHERST-On Saturday, 19 curious people gathered to learn how to inoculate a pre-cut hardwood host log with the spawn of the shiitake mushroom. The workshop, which was hosted by Athol Forestry Cooperative and the Ecology Action Centre, was facilitated by Gavin Hardie of Bay Of Fungi in Sackville, NB.
When translated from Japanese to English, shiitake, which means mushroom of the shii (oak tree), which is highly prized in Asia for its flavour and reputed medicinal value. Shiitakes are a major agricultural commodity in Japan, where half the world's supply of shiitake mushrooms is produced, primarily on an artisanal scale.
Of the common Acadian forest species, sugar maple, red maple, grey and white birch are the best suited for propagation of shiitakes. Conifer species are not suitable, in part because the resin contained within them tends to be fungicidal.
Participants were given the chance to put what Hardie taught them to use.
“We all made quick work drilling holes in our assigned logs, driving in the inoculated plugs provided and then sealing the wounds made by the drilling and pounding, with melted beeswax,” said Su Morin of the Ecology Action. “My log is is stored behind our garden shed, placed horizontal on a couple of old bricks under a giant white spruce where it will rest for the next eight months sheltered from direct sunlight and drying winds. At that time, the shiitake mycelium should have fully colonized the log, evident by the fuzzy, white (growth) at the cut ends of the log. A change in moisture will induce 'fruiting', or the production of the edible shiitake mushrooms so prized for their flavor and medicinal benefits.”
While conifers may not be suitable for the propagation of shiitake mushrooms, they do provide even shade year round, making the soil and detritus on the ground less likely to harbour strains of fungus that compete with shiitake mycelium.
For more about shiitake mushroom production, visit the following link: