I Tried Growing a Mushroom Kit for the Freshest Shiitake

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Want a fun, easy to grow fresh mushrooms that are safe to eat? Check out our review of a shiitake mushroom growing kit.

mushroom logVia Amazon.com

Mushroom logs and mushroom kits have taken root as a favorite gardening activity for amateur and professional gardeners and cooks alike. A mushroom growing kit offers an enjoyable, uncomplicated, and affordable way to grow a variety of edible mushrooms (shiitakes, golden oysters, blue oysters, lion’s mane) in low light and with little hassle. Interested in hopping on this edible garden trend yourself? We spoke to Justin Young, Director of Affiliate at Trusted Media Brands, for the inside scoop on a shiitake mushroom growing kit he started. Read on for his first hand account on growing fresh shiitake.

Why Did You Buy a Shiitake Mushroom Growing Kit?

My fiancee, Alma, gifted me with this mushroom dowel kit because of the positive reviews on Amazon. Alma and I don’t have green thumbs, we are two 100 percent urban people. However, we love the outdoors and we embrace what we love regardless of knowing what we’re getting into! We think it’s part of the fun, and growing mushrooms was no exception.

How Did You First Hear About Mushroom Logs? What Inspired You to Buy One?

Oddly enough, when Alma and I took an RV adventure we actually stayed on a mushroom farm in upstate New York. This was a random find for us. To make a long story short, we found the mushrooms to be super delicious (the mushrooms were a mainstay in our RV trip meals from then on). Eating those delicious mushrooms is what interested me in trying to grow my own!

Ready to try an AeroGarden? Check out our review.

mushroom kitVia Amazon.com

What Did the Shiitake Mushroom Growing Kit Look Like on Arrival?

The mushroom kit came in a sealed plastic package. There was no odor, but it was a kind of gooey and a little wet. Mushroom dowels are the most DIY version of mushroom logs. They come as individual dowels “planted” with mushroom spores. The dowels are meant to be inserted in wood, and the fungus will eventually start to grow. You can also buy mushroom logs which come with wood pre-planted with fungus spores, these are even easier than mushroom kits.

Where Did You Grow Your Shiitake Mushroom Kit? 

Now that I live in the woods, I have ample places to grow mushrooms. The log I picked was a shaded, somewhat damp area. There are natural mushrooms growing, but I can’t say if those are safe to eat. I just figured if a mushroom is growing already there, I’d have the best luck. The packaging and the instructions do tell you the best location, but I am not a person who reads instructions or follows them.

Psst—here’s more plants and gardening supplies we can’t stop buying on Amazon.

What Was the Mushroom Planting Process Like?

You get to use power tools, so what’s not great about that! You will need a 5/16 drill bit as well as a power drill, either cordless or corded. You also need a hammer. Then make 25 to 30 drilled holes in a line, alternating the placements. This allows the dowels to have enough room to sprout mushrooms. You can also buy actual mushroom logs with mushroom spores on them, but since I live in the woods, I decided to use a piece of wood from a tree I had to chop down.

Things I wish I knew: read the instructions if you really want to make sure you get the most out of your shiitake mushroom growing kit. Invest in the right kind of log. The same goes for the wax. The wax is what helps seal the dowels to the log. 

How Did You Take Care of the Shiitake Mushroom Kit?

You are supposed to basically set it and forget it. Mushroom kits are really low maintenance, which is part of their appeal. Some gardeners have seen mushroom yields in as little as a few weeks. I won’t know what the outcome will be since I just planted it. But I do check on it every day when I walk my dogs.

Any Additional Tools or Supplies Needed to Plant or Take Care of the Mushroom Kit?

Along with the drill for making holes in the log, I had pliers for handling the dowels and setting the dowels into the wood better. You can also use a nail set if you have one and gloves if you wish to use them.

Would You Buy Another Shiitake Mushroom Growing Kit?

Yes! I really enjoy growing my own herbs and food when possible because it tastes the best and I like a project. I personally grow Thai basil, regular basil, cilantro, and am attempting to grow cherry tomatoes and jalapenos.

Additional Mushroom Log Reviews

Young isn’t the only one who loves his Shiitake mushroom log. The Shiitake Dowel Spawn has 475 reviews and 4.3 out of five stars on Amazon. Here’s what other verified Amazon purchasers thought.

Cliff B., “This was my second order from this company. First order three years ago are still producing great shiitake mushrooms from red oak logs. Just cut down another big red oak tree for next winter’s firewood and will use the limb wood to start more mushroom logs. Very easy to use. Great packaging and rapid delivery.”

Oakleaf, “Planted April 21st, 2019 on red Oak logs. Watered them the first summer only. Had a small amount in 2020 summer. Just harvested over five pounds on October 20, 2020. Great flavor, not tough. I love to eat a large mushroom cap sauteed in coconut oil, a tiny bit of salt and eaten on two slices of toast.”

Amazon customer, “Great product, produced abundant and tasty mushrooms from from fresh cut oak logs. Took about nine months to start fruiting, and then I soaked them about four times during the non freezing months, each time yielding possible pounds of mushrooms. Just got some more logs and will do the same to hopefully reproduce my results.”

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Megan Wood
As Commerce Affiliate Marketing Editor, Megan helps Birds & Blooms readers find the best products to make their lives better, easier, and more joyful. She's contributed to The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, SELF, Refinery29, and Wisconsin Public Radio. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find her walking her dog.