How to Grow Medicinal Mushrooms
How This Helps
Mushrooms have been used in medicinal applications for centuries. The first known documentation of the medicinal use of reishi mushrooms was made in China around 500 BC. They have been used ever since, for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Mushrooms are used to treat a wide range of health conditions, including cancer, high cholesterol and inflammation. Growing your own medicinal mushrooms, including shiitake and reishi, from spores and kits is easy with these tips. All you need is a few mushroom growing supplies.
Growing Shiitake Mushrooms
Shiitake mushrooms are traditionally grown outdoors on seasoned hardwood logs. They won't do well on live or green wood, nor on old wood or wood contaminated by lichens or other fungi. You’ll have to cut and season logs for shiitake cultivation from freshly felled trees or recently cut limbs.
Keep bark intact and cut wood to manageable lengths. Stack the wood under trees or an overhang to season for about three months. Keep the wood off the ground and stack loosely so air can circulate. At the end of three months the logs can be inoculated with shiitake spawn, which you can buy online in the form of a “plug.” Alternately, you can get spawn from someone who has already grown shiitake mushrooms and make your own plugs.
Soak the logs in water or allow them to sit in the rain. Mushrooms need moisture to grow.
Working in a shady location, use a drill to bore a row of one-inch-deep holes spaced no more than 10 inches apart in each log. Turn the log two inches and drill another row of holes parallel, but staggered, to the first row. Continue this pattern around each log.
Hammer the spawn plugs the holes, flush with the wood, and then use a paintbrush to apply a coating of melted wax over the plugs.
Loosely re-stack the wood in the shade and wait for the medicinal mushrooms to appear.
Growing Reishi Mushrooms
Reishi mushrooms are grown in “grow bags” filled with grains and sawdust. The grains and sawdust are inoculated with reishi spores and placed in a dimly lit location until “antlers” form.
Once the antlers have reached desired size, cut off the top of the bag. The increase of fresh air will cause the reishi to start forming spore producing “conks.”
Harvest reishi mushrooms just before the fruiting body drops spores. Use a sharp blade or serrated knife to cut the mushroom off the block. Dry reishi mushroom slices in a dehydrator for long term storage.
Grow bags are only good for one growth cycle of reishi mushrooms. Discard old bags and start with fresh ingredients.
Mushroom Grow Kits
Shiitake and reishi mushroom grow kits can be purchased and make growing medicinal mushrooms indoors very simple. Follow the directions on the grow kits for a bountiful harvest of fresh edible and/or medicinal mushrooms.