This is partially a follow up to my earlier question: Sustainably grown white button mushrooms at home; what sort of material to use?

It appears that manure might be the best medium for growing button mushrooms, so to make use of what I have available (no composted manure readily available) I'm considering trying to grow some shiitake mushrooms in some moist branches/logs instead.

There's lots of information out there on how to do it by drilling holes in the moist wood and inserting commercially produced dowels, but as soon as I added "without dowels" (quotes included) to the search I got nothing, except for one case where someone had tried it but failed to post their results.

What are my chances of success if I try to grow some shiitake mushrooms using spores from a store-bought pack? Is there any technique I can use that might increase my chances?

In the sole search result mentioned above, the person tried growing some spores on some agar produced from boiled sawdust. Is this a technique that is used commonly?

3 Answers 3


I'v found several cases on the internet where folks have attempted to clone Shiitake. Some failed and others were successful with no clear reason that I could find to differentiate. It might be that the freshness of supermarket mushrooms varies greatly or perhaps they have been treated with some kind of preservative that hinders their being cloned. To reduce the chance of these factors, I'd suggest buying from a supermarket that has very high quality produce which includes a large variety of quality organic vegetables. I'd suspect that such a market would be more likely to have the freshest mushrooms and least likely to have had them treated some how.

I think the bottom line is you will have to attempt and experiment and report back your results here.


There is no real reason it could not be done. However there are a number of obstacles to success, so most Shitake producers buy spawn from labs that produce dowels or sawdust spawn under highly controlled conditions.

The biggest problem with doing it yourself is contamination from bacteria or mold - which can occur in any of the 3 or more steps required before you actually get to inoculate your growing substrate. Spore to agar, agar to spawn, spawn to expanded spawn, and then finally spawn to growth medium must all be done in a sterile environment. This can, and is, often done by hobbyists, but there is a fair amount of equipment to buy/make and techniques to learn.

IF you get uncontaminated spawn, there is no guarantee that the mycelium that result will be vigorous enough to produce fruit.

For these reasons, most people simply buy from a lab/company that has expertise in doing this.

That said, there are other varieties (such as the various oyster mushrooms) that are far more forgiving. These are relatively easy to reproduce, and there are lots of resources for non-sterile production of oyster mushrooms.


I just watched a YouTube video with Tradd Cotter after buying his book Organic Mushroom Farming and Mycoremediation. He shows specifically how to grow mycelium from Shiitke mushroom stems. Cut the stems in pieces (not too tiny but don't know if that mattered).

Take a piece of cardboard, like 6" across and 12" long. Peel cardboard apart in two layers and soak it in water that has been boiled then cooled to remove contaminants.

Place the pieces of mushroom stems on the lower half of the soaked cardboard, place the other piece bumpy side down on top then and roll it up like a burrito.

Place that in a plastic ziplock bag and put it in the fridge.

Open the bag a few times a day for gas exchange, or poke a small hole in the bag.

After a couple of weeks, check the cardboard for the white mycelium starting to grow. Once you see it, take the bag out and bring to room temperature. You are then ready to transfer it to your growing medium. You can use sterilized sawdust but may need to mix with another medium.

A YouTube search will give you plenty of videos if you search Tradd Cotter.

  • 1
    Welcome to Sustainable Living! Thank your for your post, but please be aware that it is likely to get downvotes and may even be removed because it reads like an ad. Instead of linking to a commercial website can you please link to the Youtube video you mentioned?
    – THelper
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 15:37
  • It also does not answer the question
    – user2451
    Commented Mar 10, 2017 at 16:45
  • 3
    I think this does answer the question, but agree it should be cleaned up to look like less of an ad. Downvoting for now until there's an improvement.
    – LShaver
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 17:49

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