Shiitake mini farm FAQ
I’ve received it, what do I do?
When the mini-farm arrives there is nothing special required. Just take it out of the box, but leave it in the plastic. Everything it needs is in the bag.
We do not send your Shiitake farm until it’s in the late incubation stage …or, if we can, right up to the early stage of pinning. We do that because if something is going to go wrong, it’s during this early stage, where there is a small risk of it catching a mould! Once the mycelium is healthy it’s own immune system will deal with any nasties.
The main stages
This is a general summary. There is more detail in the sections below, for those aspiring to be a 10th Dan Shiitake master.
- Finish incubation: At this stage, the mycelium is white in colour. Over the next 6 weeks, it will thicken or become denser. All it needs is some fresh air and a warmish spot (but it will also tolerate cold). A rule of thumb: if you are comfortable, it will be comfortable. The main thing is not putting it somewhere that’s too dry, so Keep away from heat pumps, fires, or heater… and it will need your patience.
- Popcorning: You’ll know it’s getting close when the white mycelium starts to popcorn. This looks like bumps forming all over the mag. This usually happens about week 10 after the bag was made. But it may take up to 13 weeks.
- Turning Brown: After the popcorn stage it will start to turn brown. What you are seeing is that Shiitake growing its skin to protect it from its environment. It’s also a sign that it is ready, ready for the next stage: initiate pinning, following the instructions for the autumn storm below.
Now create the perfect autumn storm!
- Give the bag a firm but gentle slapping …a storm has blown the tree or branch down! Better to do this with the plastic on, or a bit more gentle with it off.
- Cut off the plastic bag giving it a burst of fresh air …ahhh they just love that autumn breeze
- Soak in cold water for a couple of hours …possibly a passing rainstorm
- Put it in the fridge overnight – optional …yep! Winter is coming
- Put it in a warmer spot and keep an eye on it ...ahhh a nice sunny autumn day, evaporating all that rain, …oh the humidity!
- Wait patiently, and when you see baby mushrooms forming, start misting like crazy
What’s different about your shiitake-farms and others?
My shiitake farm is growing lumps, actually, it’s lumpy all over.
Why does it turn from white to brown?
Are these grown on logs?
Where’s a good place to put it?
My mushrooms caps are cracking!
After receiving the shiitake farm, How long will it take to fruit?
When should I pick?
What temperature does it need?
Some of my mushrooms are very small
What’s the reason for slapping the bag?
Why should I put it in the fridge?
Why and when should I soak it?
Oh no! I think I’ve dried it out?
Shiitake are very hardy, and it’s likely that it’s okay. Soak it in water to rehydrate. It may bounce back quickly or may be dormant for a while. Be patient.
Do I need to keep it in the dark?
These type of mushrooms grow in the deep shade of the forest, so inside room lighting is about right. It’s doesn’t need light to grow, so it’s equally ok in the dark. I prefer to give it a natural environment as possible, to stimulate the production of micronutrients.
Can I put it outside?
You can, but it’s likely that pests like fungus gnats will make a home of it and get to your mushrooms first. The larvae stage of the gnat lives inside the farm eating the mycelium and weakening it. They will eventually eat their way through the cap and fly away to lay more eggs. If you see little critters flying around your shiitake-farm, invest in some yellow sticky fly traps sold in garden centres.
How long will it last?
If you care for it, it should produce for over 6 months. If you are really good, closer to 12. However, it’s nature and there are a lot of variables that will affect its longevity. As it gets older it’s yield will decrease as nutrition is depleted. When you think it’s finally done, you can use it as mulch in the garden.