Mushroom Plug Spawn or Sawdust Spawn

Which Should I Use?

Mushrooms are easy to grow on logs outdoors, and produce an abundant crop year after year. Shiitake, oyster and lion’s mane mushrooms are some of the most popular types to grow in Canada.

All you need is a log from a freshly cut or fallen tree and mushroom spawn. Mushroom spawn for logs comes in two types, sawdust and plugs. People often ask us which type they should use, and in this article we explore the pros and cons of each.

Grow shiitake mushrooms on logs in Canada using sawdust spawn
Shiitake mushrooms growing on Big Leaf Maple logs, Vancouver Island BC
Grow shiitake mushrooms on logs in Canada using sawdust spawn

What Is Mushroom Spawn?

Mushroom spawn is fungal mycelium growing on a substrate that can easily be planted into logs. The mycelium then grows its thread-like network through the log, consuming the wood as food, and producing mushrooms when conditions are right.

Mushroom Plug Spawn Is Great For Beginners

Plug spawn refers to the fungus growing on wooden dowels. It is very easy to use and requires tools that are found in most households. All you need is an 8mm drill bit to drill holes, a hammer to tap the plugs into the holes, and a paintbrush or wax dauber to apply melted wax to cover them.

A depth stop makes it simple to drill holes to the proper depth each time, or a specialized mushroom drill bits with built-in depth stop gets the job done faster.

Grow mushrooms on logs in Canada with shiitake plug spawn
Shiitake mushroom mycelium growing on wooden dowels.
Grow turkey tail medicinal mushroom on logs in Canada

Mushroom Sawdust Spawn Best Choice For Market Gardeners

Sawdust spawn is a block of fungal mycelium growing in sawdust, and is the preferred choice for most mushroom farmers or people who plant mushroom logs yearly.

specialized inoculation tool makes inserting sawdust spawn into drilled holes easy. One end of the tool forms a “punch” that is loaded by pressing into sawdust spawn. Depressing the top of the tool injects a neat pellet of sawdust spawn into the drilled hole.

Pros & Cons?

Plug Spawn
  • Easy for beginners
  • Requires tools found in most homes
  • More expensive than sawdust spawn
Sawdust Spawn
  • faster to inoculate many logs
  • requires a special inoculation tool
  • more economical than plug spawn

Specialized Tools For Planting Mushroom Logs

Our high-quality inoculation tools are custom-made by a machinist in our community. When planting hundreds of shiitake logs a year, we value the extra speed of using an angle grinder as a drill thanks to a special adapter. A larger drill bit (12mm) is used for sawdust spawn.

After inserting sawdust spawn, cover the inoculation point with melted wax, stack logs outdoors, and wait eagerly for your first crop.

Inoculation tool for inserting mushroom sawdust spawn into logs in Canada
Custom-made inoculation tools for inserting sawdust spawn into logs.
Growing oyster mushrooms on logs in Canada
A cluster of cultivated oyster mushrooms growing out of an alder log.

Harvest Mushrooms from Logs Year After Year

For beginners, and gardeners growing a few logs per year, plug spawn is a great choice. It’s an easy and fun family project, and requires just a drill bit and hammer. A pack of 500 plug spawn will plant about 10 logs that are 4 inches diameter by 4 ft long.

Sawdust spawn is more economical with one 2kg bag enough to plant ~14-18 logs. At less than half the cost of plug spawn per log, it makes sense to invest in purchasing the specialized inoculation tool.

Whichever type of spawn you choose, it can take up to 2 years, even more, for the first crop.  This depends on the species of mushroom, type of wood, diameter of log and growing environment. Once the mushrooms start to grow, you will enjoy seasonal mushroom crops year after year and it’s well worth it!

Popular Mushroom Plug Spawn & Tools

Popular Mushroom Sawdust Spawn & Tools

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The Key is to Keep Cold or Delay Shipping

Refrigeration will delay fruiting for a month or more, and a cold dark basement will slow them for 2-3 weeks.  A sticker on your parcel will alert the recipient to keep it cold.

We encourage you to order early to avoid the uncertainties of the seasonal postal rush, and delay shipping.  To delay shipping, select a date on the checkout page, found directly under your total order $ value.   If you don’t select a date, we will ship in 1-2 business days.

The elves at our family farm are doing our best to keep everything in stock, but we request your understanding just in case we run out and substitute a similar product in order to ship on time.  

Consider also the option of a non-perishable gift, like booksmushroom hot chocolate, or a gift card so that your loved one can choose a living gift when timing is best for them.

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