Saturday, June 20, 2009


A few months ago I decided to move my mushroom logs to the next step. The wood chips I put in the pot to surround the logs had completely decomposed to a rich compost some time ago. Some of the logs appeared to be done with their task of making mushrooms, or at least in need of a push to get a final flush of mushrooms out of them. Several of the plants I had put in the pots had died or been moved elsewhere, so I figured I could move all the houseplants into one pot and put the other three to good use.

One of the logs had turkey tail mushrooms (Trametes versicolor) on it and had produced only one flush of its medicinal mushrooms. They made a lovely mushroom tea with a light, almost sweet and very pleasant flavor, so I was mildly distraught when the pound or so of mushrooms I got from the log got moldy before I had a chance to chop them finely and dry them. I was holding out hope that a change of conditions (like a move outside) would induce the log to produce one more flush.

The pot had calla lilies in it. Considering the plant is a total space and water hog but had only produced flowers once about five years ago, I didn't feel too bad about pulling it out and composting it. As I was doing so, I noticed a big hole in the base of the log. I stuck my finger in the hole and found it to be deeper than my finger was long. I tried to pull the log out of the dirt so I could examine it. The top of the log came right off to reveal a completely hollow log on the inside. The picture above is a picture of the log and the plants in it before I messed with it. The picture below is a picture of what the inside of the log looks like.

The other thing that was striking about the remnants of the log was the weight, or rather, lack thereof. Once upon a time the whole log weighed 40 pounds or so. Now the top 2/3 of the log only weighs a few pounds. The wood is really spongy as well. The two pictures at the bottom of the article are of the same piece of wood. In the first picture I am just holding it while in the second picture I am lightly squeezing. Note the deflection. It is also worth noting that the whole process, from cutting down the tree to the current state only took a little over two years.

It looks like the log is ready to be broken up into little pieces and mixed with soil to finish decomposition. I guess I won't get any more mushrooms off the log.

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