This log isnt doing Shitake.

So the Shitake log I was excited about is not doing what I had hoped.


I read the instructions, followed them to a T… yet no mushrooms.

It does not matter what new cool thing you are working on, this sort of thing will occasionally happen. I have learned this is not always a bad thing. I dont think I have actually failed at anything in life except for romantic relationships. Normally when there is something that  does not immediately work out, rather than being a failure it is the motivation which drives me to succeed.

I am big on personal accountability. Lets look at this scenario a bit more. I wanted to grow mushrooms on a log. So I went to amazon, I found a kit that was well reviewed. I buy it, figuring sure, this will be a simple project. Just some quick and easy gratification for some excellent shots and i can focus directly on the fruiting process of the mushrooms and the proper way to film them. The kit arrives, I follow the instructions, it is in an environmentally controlled room which has been tuned for the optimal levels. Yet, nothing. No mushrooms.

Should I blame the log?
no…. it is just being a log, following its exact purpose.

Should I blame the seller?
No i do not think this is appropriate either. The seller has a good reputation, and they have been in the business of mushroomery for a while now, I see no reason to believe they have intentionally ripped me off. The instructions were very clear. I do not believe them to be the issue.

Should I blame the Biolapse set?
That would just be silly. It is doing exactly what I told it to do.

Should I blame some unknown factor i have not taken into account?
Nope. It is not the responsibility of every factor to walk up to me and introduce itself.

So I blame myself. That to me is the only logical conclusion. However, i do not blame myself in an angry way, I do not consider myself stupid because I failed to yield the desired results with the mushroom log. I do not even consider this a failure, rather a learning experience to grow upon.

In my day job I work for a major telecommunications company. We offer Voice and Data solutions to small to large businesses, no residential services. We have an impressive network serving businesses world wide, and I work on some of the most cutting edge VoIP solutions. It is a pretty challenging job with a strong learning curve. It has taken me the past 18 years to get where I am with my understanding of Voice and VoIP networks, how they behave, how to predict the behavior. My position leaves me working with some very talented customer vendors in which I will work to not only build and activate their service, but troubleshoot it with them when thing are not working properly.  From time to time I find myself working with a customer, or vendor, or even somebody within our own organization that has a basic idea of how certain things work. They get this false confidence that they understand the networks well enough to isolate and troubleshoot problems. However, in reality, they understand enough to be confidant, but they do not know enough to really understand exactly how little they truly know. I can usually recognize these people pretty quickly by the way in which they try to describe things. “I hear Jitter on the call”…… That is one of the things i hear often from customers and vendors. However, Jitter is not something you can actually hear. That is because Jitter is a method of measurement of a phenomenon involving delay in packet delivery, it is just a measurement. Not the audio issues that may or may not be a result of it.  That is a prefect example of what I mean by “Not knowing enough of a subject to understand how little you actually know”

So this brings me back to the topic at hand. Here I am trying to grow mushrooms on a log.

To be honest, i dont even know exactly what a mushroom is. I mean, i think i can probably identify a mushroom by sight, and I understand some of them are edible, some are not. I know it is some sort of a fungus, I know it is related to mold and stuff. But I dont know how they attach, I do not know if they have roots, I do not know the processes in which they sprout, or in which they grow, i do not know if they obsob water like plants, I do not believe they photosynthesize, so I have to realize and accept the fact that I have no idea how little I actually know about mushrooms.

If I am going to be using mushrooms in my next film, I do not want to be at the mercy of the mushrooms, and simply hope they will behave as I desire. That just is not how they work. I have some ideas for some shots I would like to get with mushrooms which will require very specific timing, growing in specific places, and have a very specific look and feel to them. In order to do this, I need to take a step back from the “Kit log” approach and really invest some time into learning mushrooms. How they work, how they grow, what do they need, what is happening on from a biological standpoint, the various stages of their life and forms in which the fungus lives, the lifespan, all of it. I dont want to have them as props in a clip, rather I want them to be the stars, and for that I need expected and predictable behavior to pull the proper shots off.

So I will keep playing with this Shitake log, who knows if it does start to sprout i can probably shove it under the cameras and get some footage. But for now the cameras will probably go dark for a little while.

I have a friend who has this large cooler that has been hacked with a Jagermeister chiller to create a mushroom farm. He recently moved and dropped it off at my house, as my home seems to be the place where my friends leave that sort of thing. This friend of mine is a lot like me in many ways, one thing we both understand what it truly means to do things the easy way vs the hard way. When results are the goal, the “Easy way” normally involves a bare-roots approach and learning as much as possible, then building and designing systems to achieve those results. In the end, you will find that all that work takes a lot less time and energy than the “Hard way” which involves taking shortcuts, dealing with repeat failures, and trying to wrangle the results from less than optimal situations, then trying to convince yourself that you are actually ok with the results.

After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right.

Time to hit the books.






2 thoughts on “This log isnt doing Shitake.”

  1. Loved the time lapse man. It takes a lot of due diligence to grow mushrooms man. I wish I had more time to put towards a decent photography setup for myself. If you ever have any questions about mycology just message me.

    1. Hi MrSage!

      Sorry this is such a late reply. This past year i have been heavily focused on a big project and have not even looked at this site in months which i hope to change because i am pretty much done with the last project and plan to get back to blogging and such.
      I would really like to re-try the mushroom project. That was sidelined by this gig. I would love the opportunity to talk shop about mushrooms. I tried several times with various strains which are covered heavily online and couldn’t get squat to grow. everything from contamination problems to the substrate just not working out with the spores.
      I have another gig lined up after this which wont be a long one but then will hopefully be back to shooting for myself and my own projects. 🙂

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