As the spring harvest winds down, Pippin Hill Farm’s Certified Horticulturist Diane is starting to plant some seasonal fall produce, including a kitchen favorite: mushrooms. After attending a three-hour workshop at Sharondale Farm, a mushroom farm in Cismont, Virginia, Diane is here to share her tips on growing oyster mushrooms.
There are two main methods you can use to grow your own mushrooms:
- Plug log method: drill holes in a log and fill the holes, called plugs, with mushroom spawn
- Stick log method: wrap mushroom spawn inside a bundle of sticks
Both methods have their pros and cons, but their timelines are vastly different. While the plug log method of mushroom-growth can take anywhere from 12 to 24 months, the stick log method only takes around 4 to 6 months. Because of its expedited growth, Diane opted for the stick log method.
The first step to forming your stick log is picking the right kind of wood. You will want to use a soft wood – our horticulturist Diane recommends Paulownia wood, a lightweight wood that holds up well during the growing process.
Next, you will need mushroom spawn. The spawn is essentially the carrier for what could be equated to the mushroom “seed”: mycelium, the vegetative growth of the mushroom.
To build your stick log, layer the mushroom spawn on the bed of wood and stack the sticks up so the spawn is contained inside. Soak a large piece of cardboard in water overnight and roll the stick log with the mushroom spawn inside the cardboard. Rest the stick log in a plastic bag for 30 days on top of straw that’s slightly damp. Make sure your mushroom nursery is in a shaded spot to keep the stick log cool. After the 30 day wait period, remove the plastic and bury the logs halfway underground with fresh, not aged, hardwood mulch.
Follow these simple steps and, by fall, you’ll have some yellow oyster mushrooms. How can you use these mushrooms in the kitchen? Pippin Hill’s Executive Chef Ian Rynecki sautés oyster mushrooms to top his ricotta gnocchi in herb pesto – the nuttiness and smoothness of the mushrooms complements the bite of the garlic and parmesan.