How To Care for Mushroom Logs (Everything You Need to Know)

Mushroom logs don’t take long to maintain once you make them, but they are heavier to handle than they seem. So I hope you didn’t cut or buy too big of wood to work with!

Items you’ll need to maintain your logs include:

  • tote, tub, or barrel/drum
  • water source to fill the above item
  • skids or planks to elevate logs
  • wind and rain permeable covers such as landscape fabric, or evergreen branches

Each of these items will contribute to creating a functional environment for you and your logs.

Related: Essential Tools to Make Mushroom Logs (Complete List)

Where is the best place to put a mushroom log?

The place you put a mushroom log can impact its success and speed of results. The conditions are what make fruiting fruition!

A place that is cool, shady, and moist, with bright indirect light, and a subtle breeze, is best. A water source where you can spray the logs or fill a tub for soaking them is also ideal. Optionally, you can situate them close to a body of water for added humidity which may render less maintenance.

Your goal is to place them where they are least likely to dry out while still receiving some airflow.

The best spots that meet these storage parameters could be:

  • under an evergreen canopy near a hose
  • on the shady side of the house
  • on the shady side of a fence
  • under a rhubarb patch
  • bottom of a hill
  • under a deciduous tree canopy
  • under paper bags (if no shaded area is available)

For any area you choose; make sure it is definitely shady and somewhat elevated from the ground.

We keep our logs under the cedar trees near the water.

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How often do you water mushroom logs?

It is possible to overwater mushroom logs. This mostly happens by soaking them for too long or too often when “shocking” them for fruit. Spraying the logs for general moisture maintenance can also be overdone if it has already rained—they don’t need constant exterior wetness to be moist.

Spray logs with water once weekly to supplement the rain when it is absent. For fruiting, soak mushroom logs for 12-24 hours at one time and allow rest for a minimum of 8 weeks between soaking (shocking). 

Underwatering will also affect mushroom log performance. Stay on top of watering logs during droughts to ensure they don’t dry out too much. Like soil; when it dries, life dies.

Soaking or “shocking” your mushroom logs is only necessary after the colonization period. The purpose of shocking is to compel fruiting.

Should I cover my mushroom logs?

To reduce the need for watering the logs you can cover them during specific periods of their life. So the question is; when should you cover your mushroom logs?

Fresh-cut and recently inoculated logs should be covered until colonized. Coverage in winter is also an optional option, but they’ll be blanketed by snow anyway, so it’s better to stack them close to the ground during dormancy.

Before inoculating your fresh cuts, they benefit from about a week or so of rest. This rest allows any sap to run and excess moisture to escape. Micro cracks in the wood fibers will form during this time and make it easier for the mycelium to find its way. During this short rest, cover them with something that is wind-permeable. We have used landscape fabric but you can also use evergreen limbs (they look nicer!)

After you inoculate the logs keep them covered until they are colonized. Coverage retains moisture which reduces maintenance. Since there won’t be any fruit for months, there is no need to worry about missing out on mushrooms.

After 6-12 months have gone by and favorable conditions are present, keep a close eye on them for fruiting. You may even be able to tell if they are ready by noticing threads of mycelium throughout the log. If so, they are likely sufficiently colonized. Uncover them so they receive a bright indirect light.

Seasonal coverage can be sensible in winter if they are overly exposed to winds. Ideally, the place you put them would be shaded from sun and sheltered from wind. We don’t cover our logs during winter simply because the snow will be their blanket. They benefit from the moisture of snow and rain to keep them moist. Since ours are in a shady area, the snow barely melts on warm winter days. If you do want to cover your logs in winter, I suggest using something that allows rain and melting snow to pass through.

In summary, they are only covered to reduce upkeep during the waiting periods before fruiting.

Where should fresh-cut mushroom logs be stored?

Proper mushroom log maintenance doesn’t wait for inoculation—it begins with fresh-cut wood—and appropriate storage is vital!

Fresh-cut logs should be elevated and stored in a garage or a sheltered, shady, and cool place outside. Situate them where they can air out over a week or so but also stay hydrated. A low fungi-competition area such as indoors or with plenty of airflow can help if you aren’t able to plug them sooner than later.

Keep your logs hydrated so they don’t split large cracks. Small cracks are beneficial for your gourmet mycelium, but large cracks become too inviting for competition. If your logs dry out too much before plugging them, you can soak them for 12-24 hours prior.

The worst place to leave your logs is on the ground intact with the soil. You’d be inviting other fungi to establish in your log, and make it harder for your desired mushrooms to establish.

We store our fresh-cut logs on a skid in the garage because that is where we set up our mushroom log inoculation workstation.

Where should inoculated mushroom logs be stored?

Once inoculated, the mycelium in your logs will need conditions that make it easy to grow.

A shady, cool, and moist outdoor area with bright indirect light, and a subtle breeze, is best for inoculated logs. Access to rain and a water source where they can be kept hydrated will stimulate growth. Once you plug your mushroom logs, place them in the area where you’ll be keeping them!

What does it mean to inoculate a log?

What do you do with mushroom logs in the winter?

Winter winds can do damage to your logs if you don’t take the steps to protect them. Especially in colder climates.

Stack your logs in snug groups and low to the ground; The colder the winter, the lower they should be. Ground-level areas receive the least amount of wind exposure and plenty of snow. The best technique for winterizing your mushroom logs is any variation of a protective formation.

Since we live in a northern climate, we have done a tight crib stack and a low lean-to stack for winter. Both are protective formations that work well.

We usually do a low crib stack on skids. This photo is actually a poor example of the stacking technique because this photo was in spring after we moved some things around!

For visuals and more information on stack types for each climate, this video is helpful:

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While Rachelle's hands are clean for the keyboard, she enjoys writing and designing creative content and resources. You will most likely find her outside planting a cabbage, foraging berries for breakfast, and collecting herbs for year-round tea or making food.

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