Cultivating Shiitake

Cultivating Shiitake

Brief characteristics of the mushroom, features of its growth

In Europe, the shiitake mushroom is better known as Lentinus edodes. He is a representative of the large family of non-nippers, which numbers about one and a half thousand species of fungi that can grow not only on decaying and dying wood, but also in plant substrate. It is quite common to see shiitake vegetation on the trunks of chestnuts. In Japan, chestnuts are called "shii", hence the name of this mushroom. However, it can also be found on other types of deciduous trees, incl. on hornbeam, poplar, birch, oak, beech.

In the wild, this type of mushroom is often found in the southeast and east of Asia, incl. in the mountainous regions of China, Korea and Japan. Wild shiitake is not found in Europe, America, Africa and Australia. In Russia, this mushroom can be found in the Far East.

Shiitake is a saprophytic fungus, so its nutrition is based on organic matter from decaying wood. That is why this mushroom is often found on old stumps and dying trees.

Asians have long praised the healing properties of shiitake, so it has been cultivated by them on tree stumps for thousands of years.

In appearance, this mushroom is a hat mushroom with a short thick stem. The hat can have a diameter of up to 20 centimeters, but in most cases it is within 5-10 centimeters. This type of mushroom grows without the formation of articulated fruit bodies. The color of the mushroom cap at the initial stage of growth is dark brown, the shape is spherical. But in the process of ripening, the cap becomes flatter and takes on a lighter shade.

Mushrooms have light flesh, which has a delicate taste, slightly reminiscent of the taste of porcini mushrooms.

Site selection and preparation

Shiitake cultivation can be carried out in several ways: extensive and intensive. In the first case, the growing conditions are made as close as possible to natural, and in the second case, plant or wood raw materials are individually selected for mushrooms with the addition of various nutrient solutions. Growing shiitake has a high profitability, but still the bulk of Asian mushroom farms prefer the extensive type of growing these mushrooms. At the same time, Asians specially prepare certain areas of the forest for this, where the shade from the trees will create the most favorable conditions for the growth of shiitake.

The Russian climate, characterized by hot summers and cold winters, cannot be called favorable for the cultivation of such mushrooms; therefore, it is necessary to create special rooms in which it will be possible to control the level of humidity and temperature. The extensive method involves growing mushrooms on stumps of deciduous trees, which are specially harvested for this. The most popular in this business are chestnuts and dwarf chestnuts, hornbeams, beeches and oaks are also suitable for this. In order for the mushrooms to grow nutritious and useful, the stumps for growing them must be harvested at a time when the sap flow in the trees stops, i.e. it should be either early spring or late autumn. At this time, wood contains a huge amount of nutrients.Before choosing wood for growing shiitake, you should carefully examine it, and discard damaged hemp.

To obtain hemp, sawn logs with a diameter of 10-20 centimeters will be most suitable. The length of each stump should be about 1-1.5 meters. After receiving the required number of stumps, they are folded into a woodpile, and covered with burlap, which should save them from drying out. If the wood is dry, the logs should be moistened with water 4-5 days before sowing the mycelium.

Shiitake can also be grown in dry logs, but only if rotting processes have not begun in them. Such wood should be abundantly moistened a week before planting the mycelium. Mushroom cultivation can be carried out both outdoors and in a special room where you can maintain the temperature necessary for the development of shiitake.

In the first case, the fruiting of mushrooms will take place only in the warm season, but in the second, it seems possible to grow shiitake throughout the year. It is important to remember that when growing mushrooms in an open area, you should protect them from wind and direct sunlight.

Also, do not forget that shiitake will bear fruit only if the ambient temperature is maintained at 13-16 degrees, and the moisture content of the wood is at 35-60%. In addition, lighting is also important - it must be at least 100 lumens.

Sowing mycelium

Before starting the seeding process, holes for the mycelium should be drilled in the stumps. Their depth should be 3-5 centimeters, and their diameter should be 12mm. In this case, the step should be observed at the level of 20-25 cm, and between the rows there should be at least 5-10 cm.

The mycelium is tightly packed into the holes. Then the hole is closed with a plug, the diameter of which is 1-2 mm less than the diameter of the hole. The plug is hammered inward with a hammer, and the gaps that remain are sealed with wax. Then these stumps are again distributed in a woodpile or in a special room. The development of mycelium is influenced by many factors - from the quality of the mycelium to the conditions created. Therefore, it can develop over 6-18 months. The most optimal temperature will be 20-25 degrees, and the wood should have a moisture content above 35%.

To prevent the woodpile from drying out, it should be covered from above, and as it dries, it is allowed to moisten. The mycelium can be considered developed in the event that white spots from hyphae began to appear on the cuts of the logs, and the log no longer emits a sonorous sound when tapped. When this moment has come, the logs should be soaked in water. If it is a warm season outside, then this should be done for 12-20 hours, if the cold season - for 2-3 days. This will increase the moisture content of the wood to 75%.

Growing and harvesting

When the mycelium begins to multiply, the logs should be installed in pre-prepared places. From above, they are covered with a light-permeable fabric, as a result of which there is an equalization of humidity and temperature.

When the surface of the logs is covered with fruit bodies, the protective tissue should be removed, the humidity in the room is reduced to 60%.

Fruiting can last for 1-2 weeks.

If the cultivation technology has been followed, mushrooms can be grown from one stump sown for five years. Moreover, such a stump will bear fruit 2-3 times a year. When the harvest is over, the stumps are placed back in the woodpile and covered with a light-transmitting cloth.

It is imperative not to allow the moisture content of the wood to drop below 40%, and also to maintain the air temperature at 16-20 degrees.

When the wood dries up a little, it must be soaked in water again.