When you think of growing crops on the farm, plants nestled in soil is usually what comes to mind. But you’re selling yourself—and your market potential—short if you leave mushrooms out of the equation. Japanese-origin shiitake mushrooms are simple to grow, and they carry a decent price tag at farmers’ markets.
According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service’s fact sheet "Growing Shiitake Mushrooms,” much of the U.S. shiitake production takes place in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California, but there’s no reason you can’t begin production where you live.
To start growing shiitake mushrooms, gather these materials:
- 4-foot-long fresh oak log, 4 to 6 inches in diameter
- cheese wax
- shiitake mushroom grain spawn or inoculated wooden dowels
- 5/16-inch drill bit
- hammer (if using wood dowel)
- double-boiler system
Find a shady, high-moisture location on the farm to set up your shiitake production station, and watch the video below to learn how to inoculate a shiitake mushroom log with spawn. Shiitake spawn grow best in temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees F, and all you have to do once your logs are started is water and wait.
After about two weeks, a well-watered shiitake log should be ready for harvesting. Remove the mushrooms from the logs by twisting them or cutting them at the base. Then refrigerate the shiitakes in cardboard boxes to allow the mushrooms to keep for up to two or three weeks.
The flavorful, meaty shiitake is traditionally used in Asian cuisine, but try it in your favorite recipe containing mushrooms for a nutritional flavor boost.