Turkey tail mushroom, Trametes versicolor, is a remarkable fungus celebrated for its diverse health benefits and medicinal properties. It is one of the most common polypores to be found in the wild. This adaptability and vigorous growth also means it is one of the easiest species of fungi to grow on logs. Here we offer a concise description on how you can grow your own turkey tail.

In short, the process involves drilling holes in a suitably sized log and filling those holes with the mycelium of the species you want to grow. So long as you can source hardwood logs that have been cut no more than within the last 4-5 weeks then the biggest challenge you face is sourcing this mycelium. Fortunately, there are now many online suppliers of mushroom spawn (the cultured mycelium used to inoculate a fruiting substrate). You can use sawdust spawn or wooden dowels. There is equipment you can buy to make the process of inoculation quicker but if you are just inoculating a few logs you can use a more DIY approach. Let’s go over the technique:

  1. Select Suitable Logs: Choose hardwood logs from trees like alder or birch as they provide an ideal substrate for turkey tail, they are also quick growing, readily found on marginal land and easily coppiced. Logs should be freshly cut (greenwood), preferably within 4 weeks, and free from signs of decay or damage.
  2. Sourcing Spawn: Purchase mushroom spawn from a reputable supplier, ensuring it’s compatible with the chosen log species. Dowels are more expensive but don’t require equipment to apply them in the drilled holes. We will look at the use of sawdust spawn as this is can also been easily made at home (a following post will explain how!).
  3. Prepare Logs: Cut logs to a manageable length, typically around 60-90cm long, and remove dirt, moss or lichen from the bark with a brush but avoid damaging the bark. Drill holes in the logs using a 12mm drill bit, spaced equally around 15cm apart pattern along the log’s length. You can buy specially designed drill bits (an augur) with a depth collar, otherwise you can use a standard wood drill bit with a collar or even just marking the depth (around 2cm).
  4. Inoculate Logs: Insert mushroom spawn into the drilled holes using an inoculation tool. You can use a funnel with the spout sawn off at 12mm diameter and some kind of rod to tamp the spawn into the hole. The hole needs to be full. It is good practice to seal the holes with wax (any kind but soy based wax is cheap and biodegradable) to protect the spawn from drying out or contamination.
  5. Stack and Incubate Logs: Stack the inoculated logs in a shaded area, preferably raised slightly off the ground. Keep the logs moist by watering them regularly, especially during dry periods. Allow the logs to incubate for several months (at least 6) to allow the spawn to colonise and establish within the wood.
  6. Encourage Fruiting: After the incubation period. Place the logs in a damp shaded area. You are looking to provide an environment with high humidity but good airflow, such as under a trees or bushes. Lean the logs at a 45 degree angle with one end in the damp soil
  7. Harvest Mushrooms: The fruitbodies are best harvested before the white outer growing edge recedes and before signs of discolouration on the pores. Harvest them by twisting them off at the base of the stem. They might fruit twice in the growing season (late August through to October) otherwise they should fruit the following year. To encourage subsequent fruiting after the growing season use a wire brush to remove the remnants of the fruitbodies from the log.
  8. Storing the Dried Fruitbodies: Once harvested dry the fruitbodies then in a sealed bag freeze them for 24hr. Take them out of the freezer and thaw for at least 12 hr before again freezing for 24hr. This prevents any insect lavae from devouring your sried mushrooms! Ensure they are fully dried before storing in an airtight container.

Inoculating logs to grow mushrooms is a simple and sustainable way to enjoy homegrown fungi throughout the year. Turkey Tail is a great mushroom to start with as you are guaranteed success. It is of course only for those interested in using medicinal mushrooms but the same technique can be used to grow many other species of edible fungi. If you are not familiar with Turkey tail mushroom here’s a concise overview of its potential the benefits:

  1. Immune Support: Turkey tail mushroom contains polysaccharides such as beta-glucans, which stimulate the immune system’s response to infections and diseases. Regular consumption of turkey tail mushroom may help support overall immune function.
  2. Antioxidant Properties: Rich in antioxidants like flavonoids and phenols, turkey tail mushroom helps neutralise harmful free radicals in the body, thereby reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. This antioxidant activity contributes to cellular health and may lower the risk of chronic diseases.
  3. Cancer Support: Studies suggest that compounds found in turkey tail mushroom, particularly polysaccharopeptides (PSP) and polysaccharide-K (PSK), exhibit anticancer properties. These compounds have shown potential in supporting conventional cancer treatments and improving outcomes for cancer patients.
  4. Digestive Health: Turkey tail mushroom contains prebiotic fibers that support the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. By promoting a healthy balance of gut microbiota, turkey tail mushroom may enhance digestion, nutrient absorption, and overall gastrointestinal function.
  5. Respiratory Health: Traditional medicine systems have long used turkey tail mushroom to support respiratory health. Its anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects may help alleviate symptoms of respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and allergies.
  6. Antimicrobial Activity: Turkey tail mushroom exhibits antimicrobial properties against various pathogens, including bacteria and viruses. Its ability to inhibit microbial growth may help prevent infections and support the body’s natural defence mechanisms.
  7. Liver Support: Some research suggests that turkey tail mushroom may benefit liver health by promoting detoxification and protecting liver cells from damage. Its hepatoprotective properties make it a promising supplement for individuals seeking to support liver function.

In summary, Turkey tail mushroom offers a wide array of health benefits, ranging from immune support and antioxidant protection to potential anticancer effects and digestive wellness. As a natural and versatile supplement, incorporating turkey tail mushroom into one’s diet or healthcare regimen may promote overall well-being and vitality. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen, especially for individuals with pre-existing health conditions or those taking medications.


Share this page:

Leave a Reply