Making a Mushroom Raft with Black Kings, Nameko, or Chestnuts

Making a Mushroom Raft with Black Kings, Nameko, or Chestnuts

Want to make a mushroom raft that will produce delicious yields of gourmet mushrooms? Here I demonstrate the process of making a mushroom raft 

Have you ever heard of a mushroom raft? Today I am using mushroom spawn of black kings (also known as black pearl or black oyster), nameko, and chestnut to inoculate logs that will be used to create a mushroom raft. The types of logs I am using are poplar and sugar maple logs. This is my first time inoculating with the black pearl mushroom spawn. I haven’t seen people using this strain on logs so I am excited to try it. I like to let my spawn bags fruit a little bit before I use them for inoculations. The bag in the video has been at room temperature and as you can see in it, the mushrooms have begun to fruit already. The mushrooms are huge, too! I will be putting those harvested black oysters into the frying pan later. 

Learning the mushroom raft technique

One five pound bag of spawn can inoculate about five logs the size of the ones in the video. I begin by using the chainsaw to take the bark off the logs. Once the bark is off, I will put mushroom spawn on the ground and put the exposed sap wood onto the spawn. I start by scarring the logs. Once the logs are scarred you can notice how the bark is off in many locations. The sap wood is then exposed. The mycelium will grow directly into the sap wood.

I start the inoculation process with the black pearl spawn. I break the spawn apart, which requires some effort as the black pearl spawn is quite strong and tenacious in its growing. I am doing these inoculations for the mushroom raft in the woods, which I love because there is no need to wear a mask, gloves or special lab equipment. I’m under some hemlocks where the sunlight is peaking through. Once you begin to handle the mushroom spawn, do not worry about touching the spawn or getting it contaminated. If there are big pieces you can break them up with your bare hands. I clear away leaves and debris to prepare the first spot for my inoculation process. I take handfuls of the spawn and lay it out on the ground. Then I take the log and put the scratched side face down on the spawn. I repeat the process for each of the logs you are using; Clear the leaves and debris, lay down handfuls of spawn, and then place the scarred side of the log on the spawn. You should place the logs close to each other so they are touching.

mushroom raft

Finishing up the inoculation of my mushroom raft

I inoculated five logs in this manner. Once all of the five logs were inoculated, I began filling the area on top of and between the logs with wood chips and leaves. I’m in a hemlock forest so I do not have significant concern with the local fungi growing on the sugar maple I used. And since I am using oyster spawn that grows quickly, I am not too worried about competing fungi or bacteria taking over. Ensure that you place the dried leaves or wood chips between the logs of the mushroom raft to keep them from drying out. Pill up leaves on the ends of the logs as well.

Once fall comes and the logs are well established, I may take some of the leaves and debris off the logs. However, I will keep them this way until they are well established for this mushroom raft. I’ve been excited lately about using leaves, moss, and other natural debris to keep logs moist rather than using plastic bags or something similar. Chestnuts and nameko are the mushrooms commonly used to make a mushroom raft. They fruit well on birch, aspen, or poplar. These mushrooms like some of the softer hardwoods that you wouldn't use for shiitake inoculation. I think most of the oysters will all work really well in this method because they are so fast growing. This method is a lot faster than the ‘drill and fill’ method, and hopefully it will produce lots of mushrooms.

Learning a little more about nameko and chestnut mushrooms

The chestnut mushroom is complex. Not just in taste, but also in its confusion. This mushroom, also known as Pholiota adiposa, has been mistakenly referred to as the agaricus bisporus many times because of its shape and color. The agaricus bisporus is most regularly known as the button mushroom, baby bella, crimini, or portobello mushroom. However, it is important to mention that these mushrooms are in the same family as the Nameko mushroom. And more importantly, chestnut mushrooms taste differently than the common button mushroom.

The word “pholiota” means scaly in Latin, and “adiposa” comes from the name of lard or grease. The caps of these mushrooms have a scaly texture and the surface of the cap has a greasiness to it. The caps will feel slimy if wet. In the wild the chestnut mushrooms primarily grow on beech trees, although they have also been found on oaks and poplars. Nameko prefers cooler temperatures and they need a constant source of enough humidity. Using a humidity tent indoors will help mitigate humidity issues as long as there are enough holes in it for proper exchange.

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