Growing Oyster Mushrooms in a Bucket

| Mushroom Cultivation, Mushrooms | 35 comments | Author :

I think Nick might have hit apon a great way to grow oyster mushrooms at Milkwood Farm – it’s a bucket full of mushrooms!

We’ve been experimenting with various techniques for growing mushrooms (mushroom bags, mushroom beds, mushroom logs) but what we’re searching for is a technique which utilizes re-usable components, is climate appropriate for our site, and yields lots of mushrooms.

Fruiting bucket’o’mushrooms in their growing location, under the loquat tree in heavy shade
On their way to the kitchen…

Nick recently hit apon the idea of using a bucket-in-a-bucket for mushroom cultivation, because we want to develop a sturdy outdoor system, with re-usable and easily accessible components, which can translate to a range of environments.

Basically, this system consists of two food-grade, identical buckets, with one lid. The inside bucket contains the substrate and mycelium, and has multiple fruiting holes drilled in it.

The outside bucket fits snugly around the inner one – providing insulation and preventing too much air (but a little) getting into the substrate while the mycelium are colonizing it.

When the substrate is fully colonised, you take the inner bucket out, stand it on the upturned outer bucket, and await the fruit (ie the mushrooms) to sprout out the holes.

Good aspects of this system:

– pre-drilled holes means you don’t have to destroy the inner bucket in order to get a flush of mushrooms.

– all the components are re-usable for many rounds of mushroom cultivation.

– the whole caboodle is robust, transportable, and slightly (every little bit counts) better insulated than thin-wall plastic mushroom bags.

– The size of the bucket means you can have lots of fruiting holes, which in turn means lots of mushrooms!

Of course, to use these, you have to already have made your grain or sawdust spawn, for which there is a how-to here. And you need your mycelium, of course.

Inside the lid of the bucket!
Oxygen-starved oyster mushrooms growing inside the lid (they have no access to fresh air in this space)…
Proud Nick with his newly devised mushroom-growing system…
Into the kitchen and ready to harvest a couple of clusters for breakfast…
The small circle is the circumference of the fruiting hole
Let’s cook it up!
Lightly sauteéd with a bit of our own olive oil, rosemary and garlic, and served with our own fresh eggs… om nom nom…

If any home-scale mushrooms growers have any thoughts on this system, we’d love to hear them!

If you’d like to  learn comprehensive mushroom cultivation, we run awesome Mushroom Cultivation Courses in Sydney and beyond…

>> More mushroom cultivation resources at

Related Posts


Visiting: Marita’s small-scale Mushroom Enterprise

Here's another of our gourmet mushroom cultivation students who's . .
Read More
Visiting- Gabe’s small-scale mushroom startup

Visiting: Gabe’s small-scale mushroom startup

One of the most delightful things that comes out of our courses i . .
Read More

A Year of Practiculture: Rohan Anderson’s New Book (an Darn fine book, this one. A temperat . .
Read More
  • Little Sis

    THAT is very exciting. Thank you so much for sharing the “fruits” of all of your labors. You are creative and inspiring.

    • milkwoodkirsten

      Cheers! Well we’re really excited about mushroom growing, but we want to de-mystify it as much as we can, and figure out reasonably easy growing systems for those of us not in ideal mushroom growing environs…

  • Andrew

    this is absolutely fantastic thinking! I’m going to try it our here in Wisconsin ASAP. I’m going to use 5 gallon buckets, as I think 5 gallon buckets are one of the best things ever, maybe the only good use for plastic other then film for greenhouses. Thanks for thinking outside the box and inside the bucket.

    • milkwoodkirsten

      Make sure they’re food grade buckets, and that you know what was in them previously!

  • Andrew

    Oh, and what do you think about using woodchips instead of sawdust? Much easier for me to produce.

    • milkwoodkirsten

      The woodchips will take *much* longer to colonise than sawdust. Why not use straw?

  • Speedy

    yes, very good way to grow.
    no old used bags to throw away after they’ve finished.

    I’ve seen them done like this before and they do work very well.
    pasteurisation of substrate is usually sufficient if you use a high enough spawning rate.
    ‘Punkin’, a grower in NNSW had a system like this and growing them out on metal shelves covered with clear plastic sheet under the verandah at the back of his house.

    he them started to use an old glass fronted drinks fridge (rigged up with temp and humidity control etc) for growing them out.
    ….kgs of fresh mushies per week year round.

    check out

    • milkwoodkirsten

      Cheers Speedy!

  • Jason Dingley

    Your mushroom post are so inspiring. Once I have a bit more mastery with vegetables, mushrooms are next on my list.

  • racineinruins


  • HedgeComber

    Brilliant! I haven’t started with mushrooms, but I think I’n about to ! :)

  • rotlis

    Cool! What wood is best//suitable? Can I use eucalyptus sawdust?

  • Zachary Bennett

    You could also try spent coffee grounds. I always have great luck with my mushrooms when I use that.

  • Kerry Cameron

    “two food-grade, identical buckets, with one lid”
    Ummm…if they’re identical…how the heck do you fit one inside the other :-(

    • milkwoodkirsten

      The same way as anything with a tapered base…

  • Tch Tang

    hi, i’m interest to plan mushroom but totally no clue how to start. isn’t must grow in cool environment? i’m staying in asia, temperature always around 26-29 celsius. isn’t just need 3 things: food-grade bucket, substrate and mycelium? hmm… and the next steps are……? sorry i’m really noob in gardening.

    • milkwoodkirsten

      Look back thru our mushrooms posts, lots of answers there!

  • Starry Eyed Gem

    wow, those look so trippy..and tempting. have you heard of the book mycelium running? how mushrooms can help save the world.

  • Andrew

    We’ll try straw and woodchips and see what happens…

  • syaztrous

    Reblogged this on X_trous Notes.

  • dave fergusson

    I am growing Shiitake in logs using the dowels method, & I wondered if by planting some dowels amongst sterilised straw/ sawdust mix would the mycelium spread into the mix to produce mushrooms?

  • organicsokc

    Reblogged this on Kim's Organic's Okc Blog.

  • brian kearins.

    Hi Kirsten & Nick do you think the mushrooms would mind square buckets I’ve got plenty,see you at the farm in October.PS Nick wait for me at the crossing,Regards Brian.

  • Deborah M

    Wonder about BPA toxins from plastic buckets and if it can permeate mushroom and therefore be a toxic food source?

  • abul hossain

    good idea you do best in oyster cultures 2 baskets one in side another

  • Nick Vowles

    This looks like a great, low input way of growing oyster mushrooms for the kitchen. I have played around a bit in the past with mushroom growing and have recenty decided to give growing a regular supply of mushrooms for the kitchen a try. We live on a permaculture demonstration site so I want the system to fit in with our ethics.
    Any idea of yields for those buckets, or how many buckets you think it would take to give a family of four a couple of meals a week?
    Many thanks for any replies.

  • carolinatodos

    Awesome! This looks like something we could try. We tried drilling plugs into logs but it didn’t work. I’m not sure if its because it dried out or because we didn’t sterilize the logs or what. I’m going to read your other post on making the sawdust.

  • sunnyromy

    Reblogged this on SunnyRomy.

  • Thom Foote

    This has taken the top spot on my bucket list

  • brett

    I was wondering if the inoculated dowel plugs could be used in a similar way?
    Pushed into the hole, if you catch my drift. Brett

  • greenavestruz

    this tech looks awesome! i’m trying to grow my own oyster mushrooms and i’m not having very good luck. i want to have a hands-off/ low maintenance/ high yield system of growing and harvesting mushrooms. my husband is a successful mushroom grower and is gung-ho about fruiting logs in closed tupperware tubs indoors and misting several times a day. i would like to have a hands off approach and do it outdoors for better flavor… i have just a couple of questions… actually it looks more like an interview… :)

    -did you inoculate the substrate with spawn inside the interior bucket?
    if so, did you sterilize the interior bucket? how?

    -the interior and exterior buckets are identical?
    if so, did you drill the holes in identical spots?
    how do you place the outside bucket in relation to the inside bucket to get air circulation?

    -after having fully inoculated the interior bucket what do you mean by “…stand it on the upturned outer bucket…”?

    -is it necessary to mist or moisturize the inner bucket after a period of time?

    -did you inoculate the spawn in the bucket outdoors?

    thanks a bunch!

  • Jen

    Sweet set up, I was thinking of doing something similar. We’re you misting the top daily once the mycelium colonized the entire bucket and you took it out of the other bucket? Where did you keep the bucket? Did you keep the lid on but open it everyday to mist? Thanks for sharing : )

  • SwimmingWithScorpions

    Thank you! I’ve been looking for ways to grow oysters using something other than disposable plastic bags. I will try this as soon as I can get some matching buckets. Please continue sharing your mushroom exploits!

  • Ryan Nefcy

    That is not “new”. The bucket method has been used long before he came up with it.

    • Kirsten Bradley

      yep we know that, but the two-bucket system is a new way (as far as we can figure) to do the bucket system without having one-use plastics involved… and it’s new to us, either way :)