"Reishi" is the Japanese name for a red mushroom whose scientific genus name is Ganoderma. The Chinese word for this same mushroom is "lingzhi." Varieties of this fungus grow all over the world. The red variety, Ganoderma lucidum, is said to have miraculous medicinal qualities. Tea and tinctures are used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from allergies to high blood pressure to cancer. Growing reishi mushrooms is similar to growing any variety of mushroom.
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Things you need
- Hardwood logs
- ½ -inch drill bit
- Reishi plugs
- Cheese wax
Cut your hardwood logs at least three or four months before you inoculate them with mushroom plugs. Store them outside, under shade. Check your hardwood log for moisture. It should not be below 25 per cent and ideally higher than 35 per cent. While you do not need to scientifically measure the moisture content, if your log seems too dry, soak it for 24 hours or set it under a lawn sprinkler overnight.
Brush any moss or lichen off the logs but leave on the bark. Drill evenly spaced holes all the way around the log with a ½ -inch bit. The holes should be about 1/8 inch deeper than the length of the mushroom plugs. Space the holes 4 to 6 inches apart in an alternating, diamond pattern.
Insert a lingzhi plug into each hole. Use a mallet to tamp it flush with the surface of the log. Melt some food-grade cheese wax and brush the top of each hole to seal it. If your plugs came with foam cap ends, you can skip this step.
Stack the logs outside, in a shady place with good drainage. Stack them so that each log gets good airflow. For example, set two parallel logs on the ground. Put two more parallel logs on top of these but set them perpendicularly.
Water the stack weekly if it does not rain to keep the logs from drying out. Let the outside of the logs dry to keep mould off the bark. In a few months you will see white threads showing at the ends of the logs. This is the mycelium of the reishi mushrooms. Now you have reached the end of what is called the spawn run and the logs are ready to be "planted."
Plant each log on the ground in a shady spot where it will not be disturbed. About 1 inch of soil should cover the bottom of each one. Mulch with leaves or wood chips and keep it moist. Water there is not enough rain each week. Depending on your climate and the time of year, you will see the lingzhi mushrooms fruiting on the outside of the logs in a few months or even a year.
Tips and warnings
- Buy reishi spawn plugs at your local gardening centre or online.
- Make sure the plugs fit snugly into the holes in the logs. If the wax fills any space between them, it could seal the plug and inhibit mycelium growth.
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