How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms on a Budget – Easy Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners
If you are looking to grow oyster mushrooms at home on a budget, you have come to the right place.
There are few things more rewarding than growing your own food, in your very own home. There are many benefits that you can gain from learning how to grow oyster mushrooms, such as being self-reliant, health benefits from consuming chemical free produce and helping to reduce your carbon footprint, just to name a few.
The only thing more rewarding is when you can grow your own oyster mushrooms on a budget.
In this guide we are going to show you how to grow oyster mushrooms in a bucket. By repurposing common items around the house, you can begin your mushroom growing journey in no time.
In this guide you can expect to learn:
- a step-by-step guide to growing oyster mushrooms in buckets,
- the benefits of growing oyster mushrooms at home, and
- the different types of oyster mushrooms.
Why should you Grow Oyster Mushrooms at Home?
Before we jump into the guide, we thought it would be a good opportunity to highlight some benefits of growing oyster mushrooms at home.
Benefits of growing oyster mushrooms at home
Although we may be biased, we think everyone should learn how to grow oyster mushrooms indoors at home.
It may seem daunting at first, however our DIY model to grow oyster mushrooms in buckets, breaks down the barriers of people needing expensive high – tech equipment. We like to think of it as a low – tech budget option.
If that wasn’t enough of a reason to give oyster mushroom farming a go, it also has positive environmental benefits. These are:
- Reduction in plastics – by growing your own oyster mushrooms, you are reducing unnecessary packaging that you would normally receive with store-bought mushrooms your local supermarket or grocer would need to sell their mushrooms,
- Repurposing Materials – Rather than going out to purchase materials, we actively encourage our readers to search around their house for items that can be repurposed. You can even substitute some growing materials and grow oyster mushrooms from used coffee grounds. You can read more about this in the FAQ section below.
Health Benefits of Oyster Mushrooms
Growing your own produce at home is always our preferred choice and one that we love to encourage.
Not only is it rewarding, but it also means you know what has gone into (or should we say the lack of) cultivating and growing the food. This means you can be confident no unnecessary chemicals or additives have been added in the growing process, and the result is purely organic.
More to the point, you know exactly what you are putting into yours and your family’s bodies.
Apart from the organic benefits of home farming, mushrooms also contain many essential nutrients that are fantastic for a balanced diet. To name a few of the main nutrients:
- Vitamin D,
- Niacin, and
- Viamtin B5.
In fact, as more people move to plant – based diets, oyster mushrooms will play a more vital role in providing the human body with the necessary protein it requires.
We could go on and on about the benefits of mushrooms, but let’s get into what you are really excited to read about – how to grow oyster mushrooms!
How to Grow Oyster Mushrooms – Step-by-Step Guide
Now for the fun part of the article – instructions to easily grow oyster mushrooms at home.
Required Materials to Grow Oyster Mushrooms in Buckets
You will need the following items to successfully grow oyster mushrooms:
- buckets (ideally 5-gallon bucket / 20 litres in volume, however we also like to encourage upcycling, so any buckets you find lying around the house can work too)
- sugar cane straw (you can substitute with another growing medium like wood chips, sawdust blocks, hardwood sawdust, oat straw, wheat straw or another type of straw)
- Oyster mushroom Grain Spawn
- spray bottle
- power drill (with 1/4 inch bit and 1/8 inch bit)
- large container (that will be used to pasteurize the growing medium)
- block out tarp
- sharp knife
Step 1. Pasteurize your Growing Medium
First thing first, we will be pasteurizing the sugar can straw. To achieve a clean and bacteria free growing medium, we will be pasteurizing it via a simple, yet effective, method. In simple terms, we will be running the materials through boiling water to reduce the chances of contamination.
To perform the pasteurization process, grab your growing medium (in our case, the sugar cane straw) and place it in a container large enough for it to comfortably fill about two-thirds of the volume.
Carefully fill the container with boiling hot water, trying to avoid splashing and minimizing the chances of any accidental burns. Fill the container until the water covers the growing medium.
Leave the growing medium in the hot water overnight to soak in the water.
Step 2. Get Your Buckets Ready
While the growing medium is marinading, you can prepare your buckets that will house the mushroom spawn and mushroom substrates.
To do this we recommend fitting your 1/8 inch bit to your drill and creating drainage holes in the bottom of the bucket to make sure any excess moisture can escape. The number of holes will depend on the diameter of your bucket, however 2 inches apart is a good estimation. Also, these holes should be evenly spaced around the bottom of the bucket.
The next step is to drill holes along the side of your bucket with the 1/4 inch drill bit. Again, these should be spaced approximately 1.5 – 2 inches apart and run from the top to the bottom of the bucket.
Step 3. Layer the Buckets with the prepared ingredients.
After the pasteurized straw has soaked overnight, we can begin getting our hands dirty by filling the buckets.
Drain your growing medium by placing it in a strainer to get rid of the excess water.
We are going to use a layering technique to try to increase the chances of an even mycelium growth from the mushroom spawn throughout the bucket.
Simply grab the straw and fill the bottom of the bucket until it is completely covered. Then sprinkle your mushroom spawn evenly across the straw. Be sure to break up the mushroom spawn to allow a greater surface area for the spawn to grown.
Keep repeating this process until you have filled the bucket. Note: your last layer should be a layer of your growing medium.
Step 4. Contain the Mixture & Set Aside
Once you have filled your buckets, seal them off with a lid or an airtight seal on top and transfer your buckets to an area that is suitable for mushroom spawn to colonize the straw.
We recommend finding a space that fits these criteria:
- high humidity levels,
- stable temperature between 55 – 63 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 15 – 18 degrees Celcius),
- out of direct sunlight (dappled sun or indirect sunlight is fine),
- moderate air flow.
Places like a garage or barn are ideal. Even some areas around the house that are out of the way can work too.
You should aim to let the mixture sit for around 10-14 days, before you can see the mushroom mycelium begin to fully colonize the straw. You will be able to tell the oyster mushroom spawn is doing it’s thing, by seeing the white mycelium attaching and spreading itself in and around the growing medium.
Step 5. Move Into A Fruiting Area/Space
Once your bucket is fully colonized, you can think about moving it to a lighter space with increased exposure to air. Note: You want to avoid spaces with heavy drafts and strong winds or poor air exchange.
This triggers the next stage of the mushroom cultivation, or mushroom growing process. After a few days you should be able to see baby mushrooms poking through the holes on the side of the bucket. This is known as the fruiting phase or fruiting process.
If humidity is an issue, you can always begin spraying your mushroom pins with a water spray bottle. Twice a day, once in the morning and evening. This ensures your mushroom caps stay nice and moist, and you end up with a healthy gourmet mushroom harvest.
Step 6. Harvest Mushrooms
Over the next few days, it is important to keep checking on your oyster mushrooms and maintaining the moisture levels for a higher success rate. As they continue to grow, keep an eye on them. You want to harvest your variety of mushrooms just before the caps begin to curl upwards. You will begin to recognize this stage with experience and the more you grow different types of mushrooms.
To harvest your oyster mushrooms, simply take a sharp knife and cut the entire cluster off from the hole in the bucket.
So there you have it – a cluster of fresh tasty mushrooms.
Step 7. What Next?
You can leave the bucket and try for a second growth (otherwise known as a flush of mushrooms). Or when you decide to empty the contents of the bucket to reuse again, make sure you dispose of the contents in an area that is conducive to mushroom growing conditions. This is because you can often get unexpected surprises from the mushroom mycelium that will shoot out random home-grown mushrooms in the wild.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Oyster Mushrooms
Can I Supplement my Growing Medium with fresh Coffee Grounds? (link)
The good news is if you have access to fresh coffee waste from a local cafe (or if you drink a lot of coffee at home), you can add into your growing medium. As self-sustaining food growers, we always encourage our readers to upcycle and reuse other products and a variety of substrates.
If that wasn’t incentive enough, the process of making coffee actually pasteurizes the coffee grounds, making it an ideal medium to include in your mushroom growing kit. So all you have to do is add it into your straw or wood chips.
Curious about growing mushrooms in coffee grounds? Click on the link to see our easy-to-follow guide.
How long does it take to grow oyster mushrooms?
Growing oyster mushrooms is a relatively quick process. The preparation of the ingredients takes 24 hours for the pasteurization process. While building your DIY home mushroom kit will take under 30 minutes.
The main time-consuming phase of mushroom growing is waiting for the colonization of the growing medium by the mushroom grain spawn – which can take up to 2 weeks.
Once colonized, watching the mushrooms grow from pin heads to fully matured mushrooms takes anywhere between 4 – 7 days.
What types of oyster mushrooms can you grow at home?
The fantastic news is most oyster mushroom species can be grown in a bucket at home. This includes oyster mushroom types like:
- blue oyster mushrooms,
- pearl oyster mushrooms,
- golden oyster mushrooms,
- pink oyster mushrooms,
- yellow oyster mushrooms, and
- white oyster mushrooms.
The only oyster mushrooms that you should avoid growing in buckets are king oyster mushrooms that prefer to fruit on the top of the substrate.
Key Takeaways for Growing Oyster Mushrooms at Home
Growing any species of mushroom at home can be daunting for any novice. However, once you get your head around the basic steps of the stages of mushroom growing, it becomes a simple process.
In this tutorial, we guide you through the process of growing oyster mushrooms in a 5-gallon plastic bucket. A budget – friendly, simple process that anyone can create in their own home.