Growing Oyster Mushrooms in a Bucket

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


  1. Posted July 16, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink | Reply

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

    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:11 am | Permalink | Reply

      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…

  2. Posted July 16, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    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.

    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink | Reply

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

  3. Posted July 16, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink | Reply

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

    • Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:10 am | Permalink | Reply

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

  4. Speedy
    Posted July 16, 2012 at 9:17 am | Permalink | Reply

    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

  5. Posted July 16, 2012 at 10:59 am | Permalink | Reply

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

  6. Posted July 16, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Permalink | Reply


  7. Posted July 16, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  8. Posted July 16, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  9. Posted July 16, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  10. Posted July 17, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink | Reply

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

  11. Posted July 17, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    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.

  12. Posted July 17, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  13. Posted July 19, 2012 at 7:56 am | Permalink | Reply

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

  14. Posted July 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on X_trous Notes.

  15. dave fergusson
    Posted August 12, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

    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?

  16. organicsokc
    Posted August 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  17. brian kearins.
    Posted August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Permalink | Reply

    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.

  18. Deborah M
    Posted September 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  19. abul hossain
    Posted November 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Permalink | Reply

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

  20. Posted November 16, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Permalink | Reply

    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.

  21. Posted March 18, 2013 at 7:54 am | Permalink | Reply

    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.

  22. Posted March 19, 2013 at 4:09 am | Permalink | Reply

    Reblogged this on SunnyRomy.

  23. Thom Foote
    Posted November 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This has taken the top spot on my bucket list

  24. brett
    Posted December 7, 2013 at 8:44 am | Permalink | Reply

    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

  25. greenavestruz
    Posted January 30, 2014 at 2:51 am | Permalink | Reply

    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!

  26. Jen
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Permalink | Reply

    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 : )

  27. Posted April 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    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!

5 Trackbacks

  1. By The Mushroom Poem « Publish N Prosper on July 22, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    [...] Growing Oyster Mushrooms in a Bucket ( [...]

  2. [...] Growing Oyster Mushrooms in a Bucket ( [...]

  3. [...] Milkwood Farm, we’ve opted to grow our oyster mushrooms in double buckets. We chose this technique to alleviate the need to bag or box the inner bucket to maintain humidity [...]

  4. [...] also our post on growing oyster mushrooms in a bucket (actually two buckets, one inside the other) as a great space-saving strategy for homestead [...]

  5. […] the time when we first blogged about our success with this technique I got a small avalanche of emails saying ‘you should […]

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