Nameko is a beautiful fall fruiting mushroom with a nutty flavor and crunchy texture. It is also one of the few mushrooms that can be grown on softwoods like Jack Pine and Virginia Pine. Inoculating Nameko logs is simple and straightforward. Maintaining and managing logs is a matter of moisture management and patience. Before you begin, please be sure you have good quality logs to ensure the best possible mushroom growing experience.
Follow the six steps below for inoculating and managing your Nameko logs.
1. Cut the logs (3-8˝ diameter x 36-40˝ length)
Healthy, living trees should be cut during the dormant season and rested a minimum of 2 weeks prior to inoculating. Protect the logs from excessive drying out by storing them low to the ground (but out of the soil and leaf layer), out of the sun and wind, and where they can receive natural rainfall. Logs can be rested until inoculation for longer than 2 weeks, however there is increased risk of contamination and losing vital log moisture beyond 6 weeks.
2. Drill the holes
Drill the holes to a 1˝depth following the diamond pattern shown for roughly 50 holes per log. Plug spawn requires an 8.5mm (5/16˝) drill bit, and sawdust spawn typically requires a 12mm (7/16˝) drill bit.
3. Inoculate and seal with wax
Use a hammer and gently tap in one plug per hole so it is flush with the surface of the log.
Break apart the spawn and inject it into each of the holes, typically with the use of an inoculation tool.
Wax the holes as the logs are inoculated to protect the spawn from drying out and reduce the risk of contamination. Be sure the hole is completely sealed. Waxing the ends of the logs is not necessary. Sealing plug spawn with plug wax is an easy alternative to melting cheese wax and is easily applied using your finger as if you're applying lip balm over the end of the plug and hole opening. Hot wax is faster to apply and works better with sawdust spawn. Consider using wax daubers or the Okuda wax applicator. The flash point of cheese wax is 450°F. Do not overheat the wax! Turn down the heat if the wax begins to smoke.
4. Label the logs
Labeling logs with mushroom type and date inoculated can be very helpful - especially as you continue to build up your log inventory. We use aluminum tags (information is etched into the tag with a pen) or other labels, and staple them into the ends of the logs.
Easy to moderate.
Time to plant:
Typically spring, but throughout the growing season.
Time to fruiting:
Fall, one year after inoculation.
Logs grown on:
Cherry, Sugar Maple, Ironwood, Sweet Gum, etc.
Number of logs:
Depends on log size (ideal is 4-6˝ diameter x 36-40˝ long). Plug spawn: approximately 50 plugs per log. Sawdust spawn: 10-12 logs (2.5 lb. bag) or 20-25 logs (5.5 lb. bag).
Be sure to properly identify prior to eating. Burnt orange colored round caps and distinct gelatinous covering when young. Typically growing in clusters. See Step 6 below for identification tips.
Flavor and texture:
Nutty and crunchy.
5. Incubate logs and manage for moisture
Nameko logs incubate differently than other mushroom varieties. Once inoculated, place your logs next to one another directly on the ground in a shaded area, protected from the sun and wind, and where they can receive natural rainfall. Maintaining moisture during this phase is the most critical step to success in growing Nameko. We recommend your logs receive 1˝ of rain per week. If it is dry, you may need to irrigate with a garden sprinkler.
6. Harvesting mushrooms
Watch for fruiting in the fall a full year after inoculation. Nameko mushrooms fruit when the temperatures begin to drop and daytime temperature hover around 50°F, especially after a heavy rainfall. Nameko begin as tiny clusters with burnt orange colored round caps. Raise the logs to prevent mushroom development into the duff layer. The mushrooms have a sticky gelatinous covering when they are young - the presence of this coating is an important identification factor. Harvest them young or just as the cap begins to break away from the stem by grasping firmly at the base of the cluster and twisting them off the log. Store your harvest in the refrigerator up to 14 days in a brown paper bag or other container. Logs may fruit multiple times in a season if the weather permits.