Logo primary
Logo secondary
PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Last updated:
Scurdargue Cottage, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, GB
Climate zone:
Cold Temperate

My Projects

(projects i'm involved in)

Aaron Gillgren Alessia Baresi Alica Teresa Amanda Macon Angus Soutar Ark L Calvin Lawrence Daniel Halsey Deborah Marino Dustin wallerwork@gmail.com Erika Acosta Gabrielle Hamm Grant Van der Merwe Helder Valente Hubert de Kalbermatten ILARIA BIANCHI James Robinson Jeremy Cowan Jessika Maier John Bachelder John Lee Kerry Rodgers Kyle  Shedd Laura Vejen Barnkob Leona  Novakova Lori Morris Marcus Busby Mark Brown Mary Noggle Matilda Schlapp MOHAMED SALAHDINE BEN YOUSSEF Mustafa Fatih Bakir Nick Sikorski Olga Moiseykina Rachel Moon Rachel Nagle Richard Larson Samuel Lauwers Sara Herrera Sara Zweig Sean Leon Siannon Leith O'Neill Sibylla Foucault Simon Benjamin Sonya Simon Timothy McKenzie Tom Kendall Ute Bohnsack Vaughn Cross

Back to PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Learning how to turn wood into delicious edible mushrooms

Project: PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Posted by James Reid over 9 years ago

Shiitake mushroom production at home.



In autumn 2013 we began our first foray into the world of homegrown gourmet mushroom production. We had been felling a lot of trees on the Tap o’ Noth Permaculture site to reduce some of the shade around our vegetable gardens and to provide fuel to keep our home warm in winter. And while we were processing the timber into firewood we thought we would keep some logs aside to use them as a substrate to grow edible mushrooms, in this case Shiitake. We chose Shiitake for their reputed health giving benefits, their flavour and, from what we have read, it is one of the easier mushroom varieties to try cultivating. We found the process of inoculation to be relatively simple and we have outlined the way we prepared our logs below.

To date (Dec 2014) our logs have not yet begun fruiting but we will be sure to post an update when this happens.

Step 1 – Sourcing the logs

Shiitake is best grown on hardwood logs, oak or beech being the prefered substrate. We chose a mix of beech and cherry as that is what we had onsite and available to us. It’s important to only use healthy wood, cutting the selected logs no more than six weeks before inoculation. This reduces the possibility of ‘rogue’ fungi  inoculating the logs before you introduce the Shiitake spawn. With this in mind, using logs that have been on the forest floor is not advisable so always cut fresh branches/logs. Straight logs anywhere between 50 cm – 1 meter in length and 10-15 cm in diameter are best, any bigger and they can be rather difficult to maneuver.

Step 2 - Sourcing the mycelium

We have bought our Shiitake mycelium from Mushroom Box and  Anne Millers Speciality Mushrooms  in the form of wooden dowels already inoculated with the Shiitake mycelium. On websites like these you can also buy all the equipment you’ll need like wax, drill bits etc. Quite often you can purchase a starter pack containing everything you need to inoculate your logs which is a convenient option. For larger production projects it can be more economical to buy sawdust already colonised with spawn which can then be used to inoculate logs using a special inoculation tool rather than dowels. In this instance we used dowels.

When you receive your dowels it is best to keep them refrigerated until use. Best thing is to have the logs ready and get to work as soon as the dowels arrive.


Follow the suppliers guidelines for storage


Step 3 – Preparing the logs


A stable work surface makes the job easier


We found it helpful to place the chosen log on a sawhorse, allowing for good stability while you clean and prepare it for drilling. It’s important to clean off any soil, lichen or loose bark before you start drilling holes for the dowels. A wire brush is a good tool for this job. Make sure there are no large areas of damaged bark or signs of insect infestation.


A stiff brush helps remove any debris from the surface of the log


Step 4 – Drilling holes

Once the log is clean of debris it is time to drill some holes to accept the wooden dowels. We drilled the holes roughly 15 cm apart down the length of the log starting 10 cm from the end of the log. The log can then be rolled slightly and the next line of holes can be drilled, staggering to allow more space for the mushrooms to fruit. For a log of 1 meter aim to use around 20 dowels.


Drill your holes 15 cm apart down the length of the log


 Step 5 – Securing the dowels


Wooden dowel full of mycelium


Using a mallet or hammer, the wooden dowels are tapped into the holes, leaving them flush with the surface of the log.


Gently tap the dowels into the pre-drilled holes


 Step 6 – wax


Once the dowels are all in place the next step is to cover the dowel and any scars on the wood with melted wax. You want the wax to be really hot, effectively sterilizing the area and sealing in the dowel. This prevents any other fungi from entering the drill holes and contaminating the log. We melted the wax in a tin can on top of the stove and used a paintbrush to apply the wax.

Seal all the dowels in place.

Seal all the dowels with very hot melted wax

Step 7 – Wait

Once the whole log has been drilled, dowels fitted and waxed, it’s time to find a the right place to leave your logs and wait for them to fruit. You want to imitate forest conditions, looking for somewhere with dappled shade where the logs will not dry out.


Inoculated logs left in a shady corner of the garden

Fruiting time will depend on your choice of timber – the harder the wood the longer it will take the mycelium to colonize the log and fruit, though mushrooms grown on hardwood will produce for a longer time period than a on softer species of wood.

Our mushroom logs are sitting in a shady area of our forest garden and we are waiting patiently for the first signs of fruiting to occur. We will be sure to update you as soon as the first Shiitake mushrooms appear.


Comments (2)

You must be logged in to comment.

Ute Bohnsack
Ute Bohnsack : Nice write-up and photo illustration! Hope you get mushrooms soon.
Posted over 9 years ago

Report Ute Bohnsack on Learning how to turn wood into delicious edible mushrooms


or cancel

Fiona Clubb
Fiona Clubb : Hi James. Did you get mushrooms? I am so interested in small scale mushroom production. I agree with Ute, very well presented article.
Posted about 8 years ago

Report Fiona Clubb on Learning how to turn wood into delicious edible mushrooms


or cancel

Courses Taught Here!
Project Badges
Rural Residential Commercial Community School Demonstration Educational Master plan
James Reid - Admin
Team Members
James Reid - Garden Manager 2015 season

Report PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland


or cancel

Hide PRI Tap o' Noth Farm, Aberdeenshire, Scotland


or cancel

Hide Learning how to turn wood into delicious edible mushrooms


or cancel

Legend of Badges

Note: The various badges displayed in people profiles are largely honesty-based self-proclamations by the individuals themselves. There are reporting functions users can use if they know of blatant misrepresentation (for both people and projects). Legitimacy, competency and reputation for all people and projects can be evidenced and/or developed through their providing regular updates on permaculture work they’re involved in, before/after photographs, etc. A spirit of objective nurturing of both people and projects through knowledge/encouragement/inspiration/resource sharing is the aim of the Worldwide Permaculture Network.



A member is a permaculturist who has never taken a PDC course. These cannot become PDC teachers. Members may be novice or highly experienced permaculturists or anywhere in between. Watch their updates for evaluation.

Male memberFemale member

Permaculture Matchmaker

One of these badges will show if you select your gender and the "I'm single, looking for a permaculture partner" option in your profile.



People who claim to have taken a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course somewhere in the world.


PDC Verified

People who have entered an email address for the teacher of their PDC course, and have had their PDC status verified by that teacher. Watch their updates for evaluation.



People who’ve taken a Permaculture Research Institute PDC somewhere in the world.


PDC Teacher

People who claim to teach some version of PDC somewhere in the world.


PRI Teacher

With the exception of the ‘Member’ who has never taken a PDC, all of the above can apply to become a PRI PDC Teacher. PRI PDC Teachers are those who the PRI recognise, through a vetting board, as determined and competent to teach the full 72-hour course as developed by Permaculture founder Bill Mollison – covering all the topics of The Designers’ Manual as well as possible (i.e. not cherry picking only aspects the teacher feels most interested or competent in). Such teachers also commit to focussing on the design science, and not including subjective spiritual/metaphysical elements. The reason these items are not included in the PDC curriculum is because they are “belief” based. Permaculture Design education concerns itself with teaching good design based on strategies and techniques which are scientifically provable.

PRI PDC Teachers may be given teaching and/or consultancy offerings as they become available as the network grows.


Aid Worker

The individual with this badge is indicating they are, have, or would like to be involved in permaculture aid work. As such, the individual may or may not have permaculture aid worker experience. Watch their updates for evaluation.



The individual with this badge is indicating they are, have, or would like to do paid permaculture design consultancy work. As such, the individual may or may not have permaculture consultancy experience. Watch their updates for evaluation.


Community Project

Community projects are projects that help develop sustainable community interaction and increase localised resiliency.

Report Learning how to turn wood into delicious edible mushrooms


or cancel