or cheese wax.
The wax should be melted to a soft pliable consistency - not molten liquid , just soft and pliable - if you pour bubbling wax over the spawn , you'll kill it before it grows. Some growers use a mix of petroleum jelly with the wax which helps make it more pliable - a mixture of 1 part Petroleum Jelly to 3 parts wax is optimal. Avoid using paraffin. Paraffin, used in common candles contains toxins, this will not guarantee failure but certainly is a contributing factor.
Any wax is flammable. Exercise caution when melting it, avoid contact with an open flame , a pan full of wax in a pot of hot water is what I've used and it works well.
Once you've seeded your logs stack them outside in a location that is partially shaded, but only partially - a little sunshine is also needed - but never direct sunlight. Keep the logs moist , especially during dry spells - if there is inadequate rain soak them down generously.
Periodically , it is advantageous to stir up the logs. Bump them around a bit after the first complete season from when you inoculated them. Pick up the logs and drop them on the ground, this "thumping" will help stir up the spores that produce the mushrooms and circulate them somewhat . After stirring them up , wet them down . It is important that the logs be kept moist and soaked down - don't allow them to dry out for extended periods - even during seasons when you aren't watering your lawn or garden - water your shiitake logs.
Expect the mushrooms to start appearing in eight months to a year under good conditions, as long as 16 months in poor conditions after inoculation. Check frequently when the fruiting time approaches. Once the mushrooms appear, you'll have a limited window of opportunity during which to harvest your mushrooms - generally about a week. Each log should be able to produce a pound or more every 6 months.
White fungus growth rings should appear on the ends of your logs shortly before the mushrooms begin appearing. This can happen anywhere from 4 or 5 months to well over a year from when you first inoculated the logs.
In favorable weather conditions, tiny brownish buttons will sprout from the bark and the Shiitake Mushrooms should follow within a few days. Disadvantageous weather , such as cold , arid and dry conditions can delay them for weeks.
They are easily harvested by cutting the base of the stem with a sharp knife. For larger mushrooms, let them grow until the cap fully expands. For optimal flavor Harvest them before they are fully opened. Make certain that you pick the right mushrooms. Many mushrooms are poisonous, even deadly - however the deadly varieties generally don't grown on logs.
Shiitakes have a distinct appearance - a white stem with tightly packed gills that are not directly attached to the stem. The mushroom cap is brownish and sometimes black, the color is more relevant to humidity than variety.
Shiitakes mushrooms can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried. They are chock full of vitamin D , about 100 IU per gram. The vitamin content is so concentrated that eating too many can actually cause an overdose of Vitamin D .
Shiitake can be sun dried easily , by simply leaving them in the sunlight for several days - they should however be taken in at night to avoid contamination form moisture / dew.