Introduction: Low Tech Mushroom Log

Picture of Low Tech Mushroom Log

So how do you grow mushrooms? If you read anything about it it sounds so complicated. I'm going to show you how to grow mushrooms with pretty much nothing more then a piece of cardboard and a fresh branch or log. You won't need any specialised equipment and I am going to try not use any technical words and make it as easy as possible.

The things you will need;

Some oyster mushrooms from your local farmer's market

A cardboard box

A fresh branch or log.

Some Hydrogen peroxide 3%

Measuring cup



Cutting board

Zip-lock bag

Hand saw or Chainsaw

Step 1: Buy Some Oyster Mushrooms From the Farmer Market

Picture of Buy Some Oyster Mushrooms From the Farmer Market

The first and most important step it to buy a cluster of oyster mushrooms. They need to have the base of the stems still on them. The farmers sometime cut them off but check them out and ask the grower if you have to.Then when you get them home cut the bases off like in the picture and keep them to one side.

Step 2: Prepare Your Cardboard

Picture of Prepare Your Cardboard

Now cut up your cardboard into bits that will fit into your zip-lock bags. Rip the cardboard to expose the perforated middle. Mushrooms love this perforated cardboard but will grow on any brown cardboard. Soak the cardboard in 500ml water mixed with 3ml hydrogen peroxide for about 5 minutes.Then give it a squeeze out.

Step 3: Cut the Mushrooms

Picture of Cut the Mushrooms

When your cardboard is ready, cut up the bases of the mushrooms. Lay them out on the cardboard. Like so.

Step 4: Roll Them Up

Picture of Roll Them Up

Now just roll them up and put them in the zip lock bag. Label and date. Put them somewhere out of the light. I put my on top of the kitchen cupboard. Check them in a week or two.

Step 5: They're Ready to Go

Picture of They're Ready to Go

So these guys have been in the bag for 2 weeks, they have heaps of nice white growth and are ready to go.

Step 6: Cut You Log

Picture of Cut You Log

The next thing you need to do is find a fresh log for them to grow on. Fresh as possible no longer then 1 month old. I then cut up the log with my chainsaw into biscuits. If you don't have a chainsaw you can use a hand saw.

I am using a local wattle that I cut down about 1 week ago.

Step 7: Layer Between Timber Biscuts

Picture of Layer Between Timber Biscuts

Now take the cardboard from the zip-lock bags and unroll them. Layer them between each biscuit. I only make them 3 high. You can go as high as you want but I find critters knock them over sometimes. Water every week for the first few weeks. Now leave them in a shady position and wait for the biscuits to become colonised...this may take a few months.

Step 8: Ready to Eat

Picture of Ready to Eat

The weather cooled down and we had some rain and bam! Mushrooms!

These ones took about 4 months to fruit on a local tree called Pencil cedar.

They are ready to cut off and eat. I use a knife and sometime I wash them if they need it.

The most important thing here is that you put the logs somewhere you go regularly. You can miss them easily, if you don't visit the often. The size of the log and type of timber will determine how long before it fruits and how many times it fruits. Bigger logs take longer to fruit but will fruit more times. I have had logs that fruit 3 times a year for 2 years.

You just have to experiment with you local timber and local mushrooms from the farmer's market!


eyrops (author)2017-03-16

I love the simplicity of this instructable. Also the use of hydrogen peroxide is great. I find hydrogen peroxide treatment to be an easy alternative to heat pasteurization for straw and for wood pellet media for pearl oysters and elm oysters. Perhaps other media and other species also work. I use "One-Step", a hydrogen peroxide product used in home brewing, at the one tablespoon per gallon rate used to sanitize beer brewing equipment.

kelms1 (author)2016-09-23

This is an awesome idea nice job

Maxmilkshake (author)2016-06-06

Oh my goodness thanks alot for this i will try this, cooler whether is coming really soon here in the Philippines

tim shoemaker (author)2016-05-17

used cardboard w/ 1 side removed-placed chopped up stem bases inside the valleys of the paper. used several different types from local store. 3 of the 5 types did start and produced mycelium. " BUT " left too much water inside the cardboard in the ziplock. result was that the soup that collected in bottom of bag went bad prior to being able to procure logs. so my comment is to be sure that cardboard is wet but not dripping out water before inserting into ziplock.

went ahead and procured hardwood sawdust - soaked in water / hydrogen peroxide solution then used my "spoiled cardboard" to try and start in plastic covered trays.

starting to see a bit of white growth spots ( I hope) and just observed some very very tiny growth that are starting to pop up in one tray. these may be the start of some mushrooms popping out.

will be starting another group soon and will be sure to correct these past mistakes and get the white mycelium moved onto the wet sawdust planting trays quicker.

then if trays start production will use as a starter for other trays, bags and logs

and eat a few along the way

Under The Sun (author)2015-10-22

Hi there!

What is the ideal or appropriate outdoor temp for this project? Is it possible to do it in late autumn, zone 6? I can easily pop up a cold frame or a garden cloche for a warmer environment. I just can't wait to start!

Thank you so much! Super clear instructions! Awesome!

definingsound (author)2015-10-15

This is a nice technique for wood-loving mushrooms (incl. Oyster, Morel mushrooms). I don't think this technique will work for dung-loving mushrooms (incl. Portobello, White Button mushrooms). The "bible" was written by Paul Stamets:

foobear (author)2015-09-07

I am trying this now. I am trying oyster, maitaki, king oyster and chantrelles. I wonder if it will work?

foobear (author)foobear2015-10-04

Well, the oysters and the king oysters got all white in their zip locks and I transplanted them to the outdoors in between log slices, but now they have disappeared out there, no more nice white stuff. I am using maple logs, maybe they don't like it. But I am wondering, why not just use cardboard, they obviously love it. Couldn't you just transfer the starts to a larger roll of wet cardboard in a larger zip lock and just let them live happily in the cardboard?

Steelsmith1 (author)2015-08-20

Just a comment. I have never messed with oyster mushrooms, but I believe it is true with all mushrooms that the entire body of the mushroom is dikaryotic mycelium, the same thing that will infiltrate the logs, so, if the stem is not there, just use the fleshy body of the mushroom. To keep it sterol I used peroxide on the surface of the mushroom, cut the skin and peeled it back and used a cube of the flesh to propagate my mushrooms. It should work with oyster mushrooms. The part we eat is the ruining body, but all parts of the mushroom has the same genetic makeup to propagate the mushroom. I have done it with Shiitake and other mushrooms.

Allan Collins (author)2015-08-12

What does the hydrogen peroxide do? If it's used for sanitizing then surely boiling water or a minute or two in the microwave would do the job.

teamwhy (author)Allan Collins2015-08-12

The peroxide does 2 jobs, it sanitizes the cardboard but also the base of the mushroom stems.

Allan Collins (author)teamwhy2015-08-12

Ah, right. I'm going to give it a go but split the log(s) lengthwise as sawing is too labor intensive.

teamwhy (author)Allan Collins2015-08-17

That sounds really cool! I did this not long ago with a friend. We used
wire to put the logs back together. Them we stood them up vertically by
buried them a bit to keep them up. Good luck!

totszwai (author)2015-08-13

What is the reason that it stops growing after 2 years? Is it because they soak up all the remaining nutrients from the log? What happen if you put them in a living log (is it possible?)

teamwhy (author)totszwai2015-08-15

After 2 years the log taken over by other fungi and will be well on the way to decomposing. harder wood last longer and softer ones less.

I think you would cause damage to a living tree.

kadopaulo (author)2015-08-14

Put simply may have homemade mushroom. Very cool!!!

A question: Can I make the cultivation of this same way to other types of mushrooms?

teamwhy (author)kadopaulo2015-08-15

I have had success with blue oyster, white oyster and shiitake. Good luck!!

nanaverm (author)2015-08-13

Wish I could buy oyster mushrooms locally with base stems to do this...

Comparing dense wood with fluffier substrate that oyster mushrooms seem grown on usually, it seems that one could cut the wood into thinner sections with similar results. Maybe the fruiting life span would be less?

In a shiitake-growing class I took, the instructor recommended using trees felled within a week, to avoid competing fungus invasions.

Unless there's a difference in English usage, the word to describe the cardboard's internal ridges is "corregated". Perforated means slightly pre-cut.

Thanks for the good idea!

teamwhy (author)nanaverm2015-08-15

Hey I did get it wrong, it is called corrugated or as we call it here in Australia "corro".

If you can't get oyster mushrooms locally you can always start with a oyster mushroom kit. There are heaps available online, and from there you can keep it going with my method.

And you are right about the logs. As fresh as possible but no older then a month to avoid competing fungi.

thanks for your input!!

metqa (author)nanaverm2015-08-13

Do you have any asian food stores? I find they often have packaged mushrooms that still have a hint of mycelium on the bottom. Cutting the wood thinner seems like it would colonize faster. That is a good question of whether that would translate into quicker fruiting or more fruitings....

nanaverm (author)metqa2015-08-14

No Asian stores within at least 60 miles of where I live, but thanks for the idea.

I don't think the thinner wood would colonize faster, but it would fruit from more cut and inoculated surfaces. Probably for a shorter duration.

metqa (author)nanaverm2015-08-14

I'm sorry bout that. I actually took a peek at the mushrooms at Kroger, and sure enough they were all super clean of base material. I guess i take for granted how easy it is for me to get mycelium. I want to buy a chainsaw now and find a errant tree. Maybe the one that is about to fall on my neighbors roof. No one will miss that one if it's gone. Your idea for a thinner cut seems like a great way to control the flush. you could mix thinner and thicker cuts to ensure you have a good volume at first from the thinner slices but a longer fruiting from the thicker pieces ongoing. because of all of you folks with great ideas, I'm getting nearer to having the home mushroom factories that I want. Thanks to all of you.

Jobar007 (author)2015-08-11

I've never seen this idea before. It is easily approachable and obtainable. I would be cautious about the cardboard though. If you use a printed section, it could have some heavy metals (not the good, music kind) in the inks.

This is a good technique for growing easy to propagate species like oyster mushrooms. Another aggressive species would be Ganoderma lucidum (can't think of the common name right now). They do well on just about any substrate (including used coffee grounds). This wouldn't work so hot for harder to cultivate species like Maitake.

metqa (author)Jobar0072015-08-13

I think that is the Reishi mushroom. Is it the medicinal one you are talking about. I didnt know that was an "aggressive" species. I really really wanna try this. I love mushrooms and have a shaded back yard. I'd love to have mushroom logs everywhere. But it always seemed so difficult with all the sterilization and such.

metqa (author)metqa2015-08-14

Only cause my BF had been looking it up recently for health natural stuff. LOL Thanks for the extra details. When Ihave more time and money I'd like to take some mushrooming classes . It seems easy enough but for the details for each species and substrates.

Jobar007 (author)metqa2015-08-14

Yea, that's it. Funny how my brain could remember the scientific name, but not the common one. In retrospect, I could have just googled it... Oh well.

Yes, the Reishi is an aggressive colonizer but requires specific fruiting conditions: No to low light initially with extremely high CO2 at first and then a dissipation of CO2 and slow increase of non-intense light. Think buried under loose soil.

Arghus (author)2015-08-14

thank you sir

krieglers (author)2015-08-14

Simply the best way to grow them yet, i love the idea of not buying spores to start with. Thanks for Sharing i will give this a bash. I have some month old log in the top of the garden.

UriZ (author)2015-08-13

Very nice? I guess you live in a cool climate and it rains often...

christopher.leblanc.98 (author)2015-08-13

love the proses, you took ,though any rot resistance tree like cedar will more likely have a negative effect on quick spore germination, ,poplar(aspens) oak,maple , would germinate quicker, tks for sharing

taur561 (author)2015-08-13

So that is the secret to sterilize the growth medium with hydrogen peroxide . I know that mushroom growers use sterilized wheat straw . I believe sterilized with steam .. . And a nice easy way to get mushroom spores too . Nice indestructible !.

I think sterilization is the key to indoor growth but the created spawn here is apparently very not sterile in that sense, look at all the green mold. Probably harmless and also trapped within the ziplock Once grown in the outside environment between the log biscuits nature sorts out the rest.

RockeyDA (author)2015-08-13

maby i should try, i got a row if pine trees in the back yard witch blocks out sun year round and causes moss to grow when it rains alot. also thoes trees block the sun from hitting the back yard at all in the winter... so snow never melts till mid spring.

rippa700 (author)2015-08-13

Good instructable thanks. I did shitake mushrooms by buying spoor and putting a bit in each of many holes I drilled in a log and then waxing it to seal. After a few months you can 'shock' the log by dumping in cold water for 24 hours and then it starts to fruit. But your way seems a lot easier and cheaper, so i will try that. Thanks.

acoleman3 (author)2015-08-13

haha, my basement would be the perfect place for this. it's dark, cool and very damp.

DavidM45 (author)2015-08-13

This is Fantastic! what are good temps for mushrooms? I live on the central coast of Cali it is hot in the summers but we do get a 50º F temp change at night. What would be a good season? thanks - David

metqa (author)2015-08-13

I love you!

onemoroni1 (author)2015-08-13

This would be a great addition to a garden. Do they have to be in a shaded, cool, moist environment?

AllenCSC (author)2015-08-13

This is so possible and simple. Have you tried this with sawdust spawn from fungi suppliers? How about other mushrooms than oyster? Thanks for a great idea.

1976antoniocosta (author)2015-08-13

very nice! thanks!

Margmary (author)2015-08-12

I've been looking for a way to grow edible mushrooms, this is great! I live in the mountains in Utah with woods, wild, unidentified mushrooms grow readily here so I know I could grow these mushrooms in my yard. Will these die over winter? It's August now, and we usually have a nice long Indian Summer until the end of October, in your opinion should I wait until Spring to do your method? Thank you so much for posting. Mary

teamwhy (author)Margmary2015-08-13

I think it's worth giving it a try now. They should survive the winter. And you can also keep them in the ziplock bag over winter in the house. You will just have to experiment and let us know how you go. Good luck!

Omni DIY (author)2015-08-12

Nice! I had a similar idea a year ago so it's nice to see that it has potential. I'll have to definitely try it now. I was going to cut logs like that and cycle them from newest to oldest so that the spent logs could be discarded.

piperjon (author)2015-08-11

This is so cool! When you say you water them, do you pull the wood biscuits completely off to do this, or do you just water the outside cardboard, leaving them stacked? I'm totally going to do this, probably next year after spring begins!

teamwhy (author)piperjon2015-08-11

You just leave them stacked up and water over the top. after a few weeks they kind of fuse together and become one again. good luck in spring!

piperjon (author)teamwhy2015-08-12

Thanks for the info and the cool instructable!

AnnabellaMarie (author)2015-08-11

I live in the desert. Will this work in Arizona heat?

teamwhy (author)AnnabellaMarie2015-08-11

It will be really hard to do in the desert. Mushrooms love humidity. You could maybe try in the bathroom and water every so often when you are having a shower.

Jobar007 (author)AnnabellaMarie2015-08-11

You'd have to work hard to keep them damp outside in Arizona. If your logs dry out completely for a few weeks, it can kill the mycelium. Moisture matters more than heat.

slapphappe (author)2015-08-11

Great idea, thanks!

How much of the 3% Hydrogen Peroxide do you add to 500ml water?

Do you keep your stack in full sunlight or lightly shaded or fully shaded?

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