About a year ago when I inoculated my last group of shiitake logs, I also did an experiment by inoculating a couple of logs with the elm oyster mushroom hypsizygus ulmarius. I don’t remember where I read it, but it was someone’s opinion that it had a superior taste and texture over the conventional ‘pleurotus ostreatus’ oyster mushroom. I also read that it might have beneficial effects in the garden as there is somewhat of a symbiotic relationship between the mycelium and the plant roots etc. That is one of the reasons that Fungi perfecti sells it as the Garden Patch mushroom. It is also listed on Dr. Andrew Weil’s site as having immune stimulation and other beneficial health effects.
Now, because I don’t go through the trouble of cultivating my own spawn – and generally either use dowel or sawdust spawn for my mushroom growing – I tried to find an inoculant in one of these forms. Being unsuccessful, I had to opt on using the garden patch kit from Fungi Perfecti for my logs. This kit is compromised of cultured wood chips and was designed to spread in a garden. Therfore, I wasn’t sure that it would work for use in logs (but I was willing to take the chance because I am always game for the ‘unconventional approaches’). Once I received the kit , I determined that most of the particles were fine enough to stuff into the holes which I would drill.
After I had plugged the holes and sealed them, I dug the logs about 1/3 down into rich soil (in a shaddy spot). I occasionally wet the logs so as not to let them dry out and cover the tops of them with a little layer of leaves. After about 2 months, whoila! I started seeing all these little white “pins” protruding from many of the plugged areas. I took this picture a few days later after this first full “flush” and I began to have similar flushes about once a month. It has now been a little over a year and I think that the logs might have ‘petered out’ because of the aggressive nature of these mushrooms using up their food supply etc. I did get a lot of mushrooms of these two little logs!
The only problem that I have noticed is that in the heat of the summer, you might get some insect infestation of these mushrooms. However, I have found ways to deal with this, and one of them is when I first notice the pinning, I simply remove the logs for a few days to a more protected spot near my house. From the pinning phase to the edible phase is about one week as they grow very fast. Also, this is one mushroom that you can let mature a little longer before harvesting.
These oyster mushrooms are very tasty and work well in oyster mushroom stews, risotto, and other recipes. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I had much spawn left over and spread it below the surface in my worm pit (where I put wood, chips and other sorts of organic debris). I have seen them growing therein. Be sure to leave a comment if you have any more questions!
Also, if you would like an easy way to start growing the conventional oyster mushroom (considered better by some), you might want to consider this product:The Espresso Oyster Mushroom Patch – Indoor / Outdoor Mushroom Growing Kit – Grow Your Own Edible Mushrooms & Fungi. Easy & Fun Mush Room Growing Kit – Grow Mushrooms for Cooking Ingredients. Great Gift Idea for a Cook.