A Perforated Bucket Method for Growing Oyster Mushrooms

I’m posting a quick description of a method for using stackable, recyclable polyethylene buckets for growing oyster mushrooms without wasting a lot of plastic.

You need two identical buckets that will stack one inside the other. You also need a lid, and the necessary substrate ingredients and spawn to fill it. (I’m assuming you know how to do that part, but I’ll be posting more on that later in case you’re wondering). The buckets can round or rectangular or even some other shape as long as they take lids and stack nicely inside one another.

You drill holes through the outside one of the buckets, about 1/4″ in diameter, two inches apart in horizontal rows also about 2″ apart. You can drill holes in the bottom of the bucket as well, as I did the first time, but I found it made handling awkward once the mushrooms started popping out, so I don’t recommend it.

Get everything nice and clean. Put the perforated bucket inside the other one. Add your ingredients to the inner bucket, put the lid tightly on it and, holding the two buckets as one, shake them vigorously to mix. Set it aside to incubate.

With the lid on tight, only the space between the lip of the lid and the outer bucket will allow air to pass. It should be enough. You could put some micropore tape on it to keep contaminant out, but try it without it. With peroxide in the mix the contaminants will have a hard time getting a toehold.

Phoenix oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius) mycelium growing out of holes in the inner bucket.
Phoenix oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius) mycelium growing out of holes in the inner bucket.

You can tell how far along your block gets by pulling the inner bucket out to look at the holes. When you see mycelium growing out of the holes it’s ready to pull the inner bucket out and set it up to fruit.

Elm oysters, Hypsizygus ulmarius, coming along
Elm oysters, Hypsizygus ulmarius, coming along

If you perforated the bottom of the inner bucket you will want to stand it with the bottom up. Otherwise you can stand it either way. Harvest your mushrooms by pulling them out of the holes they grow out of, then wet down the outside of the bucket and put it back in the outer bucket, with the lid on loosely, for a few days, then take it out again and set it up for a second fruiting.

Elm oysters, Hypsizygus ulmarius, fruiting from a 1.5 gal food service bucket. It yielded a little over 2 lbs.

When it’s exhausted, dump the block out of the bucket onto a compost heap. Then just wash everything out and start over.

Phoenix oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius), a bit past the optimal harvest point. It yielded a little under 2 lbs.
Phoenix oyster (Pleurotus pulmonarius), a bit past the optimal harvest point. It yielded a little under 2 lbs.

1 thought on “A Perforated Bucket Method for Growing Oyster Mushrooms”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *