When I was in 6th grade, I grew edible mushrooms in a box in a dark corner of my room. I was immensely fascinated by the process and even received a medal at our school’s Science Fair for the Best Project Idea.
Unfortunately, over the years, I forgot all about mushrooms and the science project I once undertook.
Recently, I was chatting with a friend about pizza toppings and she told me she uses fresh, edible, home-grown mushrooms on her delectable pizzas.
Curious to learn more, I asked her to enlighten me with her knowledge on the growing process. I felt like I was in back in 6th grade altogether.
I have now mastered the process and think I should pass my knowledge to all mushroom connoisseurs and enthusiasts!
This blog is all about one of the easiest ways of cultivating mushrooms: in a bucket! Read ahead to find out the advantages of growing yummy mushrooms in a bucket and the method you must follow for a rewarding mushroom-growing experience!
A Guide to Growing Mushrooms in 5 Gallon Buckets
It is not easy to cultivate a batch of delectable fruiting bodies of fungi (yes, that’s basically what mushrooms are!).
There are so many different ways to go about it and so many instructions to follow that can make the entire process quite confusing. You will end up wondering why did you not just buy a tin of mushrooms from the supermarket?
However, you should not let the process confuse you! This section will lay down some guidelines for you to follow that will make the process ultimately fun, engaging and allow you to be certain of what you are eating.
Why You Should Grow Mushrooms in a 5 Gallon Bucket
Growing edible mushrooms in buckets at home is truly the simplest way to cultivate a fresh batch. No expensive, high-tech or specialized equipment is required in the process.
If you don’t have any prior experience of cultivating mushrooms at home, this process is ideal for you. It does not require you to develop any special skills. Basic supplies, instruction following and the right environmental conditions will do the job for you.
With very little effort, growing fresh mushrooms in bucket with a capacity of five gallons can give you pounds and pounds of mushrooms in single and multiple flushes.
Types of Mushrooms You Can Grow in a Bucket
An oyster mushroom, also known scientifically as Pleurotus spp., is a great candidate for the bucket cultivation process. You can grow blue, pink, yellow, brown, gray, white and many other types of oyster mushrooms in buckets. They grow fairly fast and are less sensitive to the environmental growing conditions around them.
Oyster mushrooms are also less picky about which medium you are using to cultivate mushrooms. You can use any available medium from coffee grounds to sawdust to inoculate the oyster mushroom spawn. As long you have the right temperature and humidity levels, you’re good to go!
Shiitake mushroom (scientific name: Lentinula edodes) is another excellent choice of mushroom that can be grown in a bucket. Although it prefers logs, you can also grow it in a bucket using sawdust or grain. However, you will have to sterilize and attach filters to avoid mold contamination because of air.
Shiitake mushrooms do not require a lot of space to grow. If you live in an apartment or do not have much space, you can grow them in a bucket or even a small tub with great ease.
Both oyster and shiitake mushrooms bring substantial profits so if you are cultivating mushrooms for commercial purposes, these two species are your best options! (source)
The Step-By-Step Procedure of Cultivating Mushrooms in a Five Gallon Bucket
In this section, we will outline the steps you need to take in order to cultivate fresh mushrooms in a bucket (video) that has a capacity of five gallons. This section is crucial if you want to be successful so pay attention!
Supplies You Will Need for the Process:
To cultivate fresh and edible mushrooms in a bucket, you will need:
- A polypropylene food-grade bucket with a capacity of five gallons (lid included)
- Warm soap water
- Wheat/oat/barley straw
- Coffee grounds
- Cloth bags
- A deep vessel containing very hot water
- Disinfectant spray bottle (7 parts rubbing alcohol with 3 parts water)
- A power drill with a 1/2 inch drill bit
- Mushroom spawn (oyster, shiitake etc.)
- A large bowl or tub
- Masking tape
- Permanent marker
- Dust face mask
- Surgical tape
Step 1: Collect All Supplies
All supplies mentioned in the list above will easily be available at any supermarket, pharmacy or hardware or convenience store.
However, you will need to contact an authentic specialist mushroom supplier to purchase mushroom spawn. I recommend purchasing around 2500 ml or 2.5 quarts of mushroom spawn for a bucket with a capacity of five gallons.
Step 2: Prepare the Bucket
After collecting all the essential supplies, you should start preparing your bucket. Using warm, soapy water, wash your bucket and the lid thoroughly to ensure they are entirely clean before you begin the process.
At every 8-10 centimeters, drill a 1/2 inch hole using your drill machine and bit. You will need to drill at least 35 to 40 holes for a bucket with a capacity of five gallons. If you can, use a step drill so the bucket does not split into two during the process.
Step 3: Prepare Mushroom Substrate
Start by cutting straw into short lengths. 50 millimeters or less is the ideal length for each piece.
Add straw into a large tub. Mix coffee grounds and sawdust in the ratio of five to two.
Add warm water gradually to make the mixture wet. There is no defined quantity of water. It should just be enough to wet the substrate.
(Optional: To improve the consistency of the mixture and provide Sulphur and calcium, add around five teaspoons of gypsum to the mix. You can also add builder’s lime to shift pH and prevent contamination. Wear protective equipment to avoid irritation).
Once prepared, place your substrate mixture in a cloth bag.
Step 4: Pasteurize the Substrate
This is an important step taken to reduce the amount of microscopic elements that might be growing in the substrate. (source)
To begin pasteurization, submerge the cloth bag with the substrate into a deep vessel containing hot water for 1 hour.
Use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water before putting in the cloth bag. It should lie ideally between 140–170 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once you have submerged the bag, use a heavy object to weigh it down.
Before taking out the bag from the vessel, wipe down the surface where you will place your bag with a disinfectant spray. Ensure your hands are sanitized as well.
Remove the bag from the vessel and drain it. The best way to do this is to hang it from a rail using a rope for about 25-30 minutes.
Allow the substrate to cool down.
Step 5: Clean the Bucket
It’s now time to disinfect your bucket. Using the alcohol spray, wipe down all sides and then, cover the holes you have drilled with a surgical tape.
Step 6: Inoculate the Substrate with Mushroom Spawn
Before you begin, stick your thermometer into the cloth bag to measure the temperature of the substrate. It should be around 100 degrees Fahrenheit or close to body temperature.
Add the mushroom spawn to the substrate carefully and evenly. You ideally want a 10% volume of spawn in the total mixture.
With clean hands, transfer the inoculated substrate from the cloth bag to the bucket and fill all the way till the top.
Using a masking tape and a permanent market, add a label to your bucket containing the date of inoculation and the kid of substrate is used. Though not necessary, this step will help you get better at the process!
Step 7: Allow Time for Substrate Colonization
Find a dark and warm place around you and place your bucket. A surrounding temperature of 65–75 degrees Fahrenheit is considered ideal.
You can place your bucket under the bed, on top of the refrigerator or in an airy cupboard.
Allow time for the mycelium to completely colonize the mushroom substrate. In about five to six days you will notice small, white cotton-like patches appear on the substrate.
It will take around 7 to 21 days for the substrate to turn completely white. When this happens, it’s time for fruiting!
Step 8: Move the Bucket to Ideal Conditions for Fruiting
Once the mycelium has completely colonized the substrate and developed a strong network, move your bucket to an airy place that cools down at night and does not receive any direct sunlight. A kitchen counter or a shaded area on your porch are both great options.
Spray the bucket with water 2 to 3 times a day to prevent mycelium from drying out. In 2 to 6 weeks, you will see mushroom pinheads popping out of the holes you have drilled!
Step 9: Harvest Your Mushrooms!
Use a sharp knife to cut off the mushrooms from the bucket. Once you have harvested them, remove any stems or mushroom debris so only the substrate is left behind. Keep misting it 2 to 3 times a day so it can produce another flush!
Frequently-Asked Questions About Growing Mushrooms
Q1. How Long Do Mushrooms Take to Grow?
The time taken for mushrooms to grow depends on the species you are growing. If, for example, you are growing oyster mushrooms, it will take them about 3 weeks. Shiitake mushrooms need more time and can take up to 6 months.
Ideally, it takes about 30 to 40 days on average for mushrooms to grow.
Q2. How Do You Grow Mushrooms In a Log?
There are 7 basic steps you must follow to cultivate mushrooms on logs:
- Purchase spawn and collect logs.
- Drill holes in the logs.
- Add spawn to the holes.
- Seal the holes with wax.
- Keep them in a moist, wet place.
- Allow time for colonization of logs by spawn.
- Harvest mushrooms and enjoy them!
I hope you, as a beginner, found this article useful and I hope it motivated you to cultivate fresh, edible mushrooms at home! Remember to:
- Source spawn from an authentic supplier
- Provide ideal fruiting conditions
- Maximize efforts to avoid mold contamination
If you have any questions for me, comment them below and I will get back to you. See you next time!