Shiitake Mushroom Block Condition
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Joel Russ
Posted on: November 24, 1998

I ordered and received a block of Shiitake Mushroom growing medium, as advertised in your catalogues. So far as I know, it travelled well when shipped. The instructions were missing from the carton, so I requested these and they were faxed to me.

The fine print at the bottom of the instruction page mentioned that the block may need a few weeks of warmer temperature to stimulate the earlier stage of growth. Okay, I can provide that, if needed. How will I know if it’s needed?

The block looks like this: mostly white, with some brown specks (probably sawdust particles: it almost has a white styrofoam appearance. At the top, there is a cottony-looking layer about one-half-inch thick. I assume these are mushroom "root" filaments, and that they are normal.

Please advise me what to do in order not to damage the block received and in order to get mushrooms developing ASAP. I don’t mind following the directions you faxed, but I need to determine the stage of current development in order to understand WHERE to begin, from the instructions.

I assume that you have had the shitake growing medium for more than a week or two? Be patient for at least 4 weeks. The block should be kept at 55 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (12 to 24 degrees Celsius) to induce fruiting. To maintain good humidity, enclose the block in a plastic tent that is a bit open at one end. Also make sure the block gets lots of indirect light.

Find a spot that is not covered by the white mycelium and touch it gently to determine if it is moist or very dry. If it seems very dry, soak the block in very cold water for 4 hours. Float a few icecubes in the water to make sure it is cold enough. Drain and replace in your light spot at about 20 degrees Celsius. If the block seems dry but not very dry, then hold it under a tepid shower for a minute then drain and replace in the plastic tent in a bright spot.

You should soon see the block turn brown, heralding the beginning of fruiting.

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