How to Grow Hen of the Woods Mushrooms

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Large, rich hen-of-the-woods mushrooms (also know as maitake mushrooms) are commonly found in the summer and fall around the base of oak trees. You could hike through forested areas and find this delicious fungus for free during the right season. If you'd like to enjoy this delight more regularly, however, it's not too difficult to cultivate hen-of-the-woods mushrooms for home growing. Large, delicious clusters of hen-of-the-woods often return annually, giving home growers a regular addition to their meals.

Things You'll Need

  • Log 4 to 6 inches in diameter
  • Drill
  • Hen-of-the-woods plugs
  • Wooden mallet
  • Block of cheese wax
  • Frying pan
  • Meat baster or brush

Get hen-of-the-woods mushroom plugs. These long, thin, tubelike objects are the "seed" of your mushrooms, the starting point for growing your fungi. You can purchase or order these plugs from a garden supply store or online retailers.

Obtain a log 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Since hen-of-the-woods mushrooms grow naturally on oak trees, an oak log is probably your best choice if you're going to try cultivating these edible mushrooms at home. Logs can be purchased if you don't want to cut down a tree to suit your purposes; check your local area for firewood providers to find one.

Drill holes approximately 1 1/4 inch deep into the top of the log as it's positioned standing on one end. Space holes 6 to 8 inches apart and drill them in rows until the top of the log is evenly peppered with holes.

Hammer the hen-of-the-woods plugs into the hole using a wooden mallet. Be sure to get the plugs flush against the top of the log. Fill every hole with one plug. With luck and care, each plug will sprout into a delicious hen-of-the-woods mushroom in 10 to 14 weeks.

Cover each plug with cheese wax. This stiff, protective substance will keep young hen-of-the-woods plugs safe while they begin to grow. You can obtain cheese wax through many online retailers. Commonly, cheese wax is sold in 1-pound blocks. Melt the cheese wax in a traditional frying pan before applying it to the plugs. Use a standard meat baster or brush to coat the top of each plug with this substance.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep hen-of-the-woods mushroom logs out of direct sunlight for optimal growth.

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