• Vegetable Farming | Shiitake Harvest

    by Alie Peterson on November 1, 2013

    Mushrooms VH Nights cool, leaves change, classes resume: For many people these are signs that Fall has arrived. I find that Fall likes to tease us with its entrance, presenting a couple nights of cooler temperatures followed by a week of 80 degree weather. The calendar announces its arrival, but it decides to arrive fashionably late. So for me, on Farm 42 in Piedmont, NC, I count on only one event to signal the change of season – the shiitake mushrooms bursting from their logs.

    shiitake collage Every winter my husband cuts down some small trees and we transform them into mushroom logs. It’s an interesting process that I’ll share with you in detail this winter. (In case you want to make your own!) After the logs are made, it takes 6+ months for the mushroom spawn to take over the log and prepare to “fruit” or produce mushrooms. After that waiting period, all you need are the right weather conditions. They’ll get fooled by Fall’s sketchy entrance as well, sending out a couple mushrooms here and there, but it’s not Fall until you get this:

    Shiitake Basket VH

    We got our first large harvest on October 4th this year.

    Now that I have children, I especially look forward to this seasonal event. My 21 month old son, Dashiell, was very excited to help me as I cut the mushrooms from the logs and he put them in a basket. Checking the logs for mushrooms, harvesting them when ready, and cooking them for our own enjoyment is a wonderful chain of events that we will play out several times this Fall. We explain to Dash that we’re eating the mushrooms he just helped pick. While this concept may have been lost on him (or stupidly obvious), it excited my city-slicker niece when she visited last week. Sharing this type of food experience with kids is just awesome.

    So for now you’ll have to jealousy dream of me drowning in piles of delicious shiitake mushrooms, but I hope to help you grow your own next year!

    Happy Fall!!

    About Alie Peterson

    Hi, I'm Alie - a former Atlantan turned North Carolina vegetable farmer, Green Acres style. (Anyone else watch Nick at Nite growing up?) Follow me as I attempt to raise two vegan boys to run free, think deeply, and act kindly.

  • { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    Birdy& Bambi November 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Beautiful! Go mushrooms!

    Have a happy All Saints’ Day!

    Love Bambi


    Sondi Hardy November 1, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    Are the logs a special kind of wood? Do they only grow shiitake mushrooms, or do other ones sprout too? Do you do anything special to get them going? Do you know if the same thing would happen in other climates? I live in Utah.


    Alie Peterson November 4, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    I will be posting more details in the new year to help others grow shiitake, so stay tuned for that! The quick answer is that they love Oak, but we use Sweet Gum. I think most hardwoods work. If successful, the shiitake spawn will dominate the log and you don’t get any random mushrooms popping up. They will fruit on their own given the right temperature/moisture conditions, but there are ways to control the fruiting. And I think you can grow them in most climates, there are different strains of shiitake for different temperatures.


    Sondi Hardy November 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Thank you Alie.. I’m really keen to try this out.


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