Grinding tree stumps is usually how we deal with them. If you have land to clear on your homestead, it could become quite a chore to get these stumps taken care of. But did you know that you can eat your stumps? Well, that is not exactly true. If you head out there and start chewing on tree stumps, they won’t taste very good. And there is no method of slow cooking that will make that poplar edible or appetizing.
However, one way you can both eat your stumps and hasten their decomposition is to inoculate them with a mushroom spore. I understand that is a mouthful of words that don’t really mean much to the average person. What I’m saying is, you can buy wooden dowels that are covered with the spores of certain types of mushrooms.
These dowels can be easily inserted into your stumps and they will begin feasting on the wood. The best part is that you will get delicious mushrooms several times a year. These spores are prolific and will produce enough mushrooms that you will need to dry them. If you do this to a field of stumps, you better get your e-commerce ready or set a booth up at the local farmers market.
Shiitake Mushrooms retail for between 8$ and $15.
I prefer the Shiitake because it looks very distinct and I love the taste as well. They also preserve well.
The Shiitake mushroom is a delicious little cap. It’s full of great nutrients like copper and selenium. It’s also a decent source of Vitamin B2 and B6. It contains lipids and amino acids as well.
Shiitake have played a role in Chinese medicine for millennia. There are also studies on their ability to fight tumors. For the most part, though, they are just delicious and grow with little to no effort. You can eat them, dry them, or sell them.
Tools and Supplies
- Drill and Drill bit of 5/16th inch bit
- Vessel for melting wax
- Small Paintbrush
- Shiitake Spawn (store in fridge until ready for use)
1. Begin by drilling holes into your stump. Space the rows about 2 inches apart and space the holes in each row about 5 inches apart.
2. Melt your wax in a double boiler or over low heat. A basic double boiler is just a pot with simmering water and a metal bowl like this one pictured, which contains the melted wax.
3. Push your Shiitake Spawn into the holes.
4. Use the hammer to gently hammer the dowel into the stump until it is completely under the surface of the wood.
5. Cover each hole and the dowel with melted wax. Be sure you cover the hole completely. Bugs and things will try to get in there and eat at the dowels.
6. Cover a small portion first and then add more wax to fully cover the area surrounding it.
7. That’s it! It’s not a tough process. If you can melt some wax and use a drill, you can have all the mushrooms you want.
How to Activate the Spore
It takes about 6-12 months for the spore to initially spread through your stump. So, it will take at least a year before you get any production.
Your stumps will produce in spring and in fall. You may get some sparse production in summer, but the bulk of production happens in spring and fall. The spore will need to be distributed through the stump each season and activated.
The best way to do this is to first soak your stumps thoroughly. When I do this with logs, I toss them into a small creek on my property overnight. You can water the stumps a few times a day for about 5 minutes. Just get them nice and soaked.
Next, you will want to bang the stumps. You can use a bat to hit the stump. Don’t really crack the thing and damage the stump, but give it a couple whacks on all sides. This will kickstart production.
- After 6 months, keep an eye on the logs or you may miss the first production.
- Stumps in the shade will produce best.
- Too much direct sun will dry out the stump and they will not produce.
- Harvest them when the cap is between 3-4 inches.
- To dry, put them in a 200-degree oven until the caps are shrunken and hard.
Of course, the other payoff is that these mushrooms will hasten the decomposition of that problem stump. It won’t work as quickly as a stump grinder, but you will get years of delicious mushrooms out of it!