How To Grow Shiitake Mushrooms
Block Growing Instructions
To buy your own shiitake mushroom growing kit click here.
Shiitake mushroom blocks are filled with all the nutrients they need to produce up to 1 ½ pounds of mushrooms over their lifetime. While the majority of mushrooms are harvested within the first 2-5 weeks of fruiting, many people have continued to rehydrate their blocks in order to get 2-3 more harvests over several months.
1. Getting Started
Your home can provide the perfect environment for your block, but there are a few important things you should know. Shiitake mushroom blocks prefer humid conditions and temperatures between 62 and 70 degrees. Varying the temperature so that it’s lower at night and warmer during the day mimics the shiitake’s natural habitat and will usually lead to more mushrooms. For example, it might serve you well to keep the block in a garage at night and a cool spot in the house during the day. Cooler is better than warmer, so if you’re unable to vary the temperature, simply keep it in the coolest spot in your home. Do not expose your mushroom block to direct sunlight. If possible, make sure the block is exposed to low light during the day with little to no light at night.
2. Setting Up Your Mushroom Block’s Grow Kit
Once you pick out your spot(s) to grow your mushrooms, you’ll need to set up their block’s grow kit. For easy transportation, place a cookie sheet (not provided) underneath the provided mat. This also catches any moisture that may drip off the block or its tent. Now complete the following steps:
– Center the plastic tray on top of the mat
– Place the block on top of the trays two ribs so that the tray sticks out from underneath the block on all sides
– Add a 1/4 inch of water to the trays 3 compartments underneath the block. Add water as needed to keep the water level around 1/4 inch
-Put the bamboo sticks (pointy end down) through each of the holes in the corners of the tray, adjusting them so they point slightly outwards
– Place the vented bag over the sticks, Fold the bottom edges underneath the mat/tray, and your environment is complete
For the first week, mist your block daily with the spray bottle using fresh water only. You should start to see small black bumps on your block around five days later. These bumps, called pins, are premature shiitake. Harvesting should begin somewhere between day 8 and 14. The best time to harvest is when the mushrooms have opened up enough to show their gills underneath. You may allow them to open all of the way up; however, a white dusting of spores will be let loose. It’s harmless but can be a little messy.
Keep in mind that some mushrooms mature faster than others, so a daily harvesting is recommended. Once you believe a mushroom is ready for harvesting, use scissors or a sharp knife and cut the stem as close to the block as possible. The stems are completely edible and can be cut up or used attached to the cap. When your block is done with its first fruiting (in about 3-4 weeks), you can submerge the block in water for 8-12 hours before starting the whole process over again for as many as 3 times.