Grow mushrooms the EZ way.

Shoebox Tek – Easy Mushroom Growing at Home.

My favorite technique for fruiting mushrooms is shoebox tek. The technique is clean, efficient, and when things go wrong (such as contamination), it's easy to isolate and dispose of the fruit block.

This technique makes use of 10L (or smaller) storage boxes and containers for incubation and fruiting of mushrooms on bulk substrate, without modifying the boxes at all.

Shoebox grows can be stacked in a cupboard or on a shelving rack, and it's possible to grow a fair quantity of gourmet mushrooms in a small space using this method.

I have grown Freckled Chestnut, Pioppino, Cordyceps, and King Oyster mushrooms using this method. It is also possible to grow Shaggy Mane and Reishi; however, I haven't done that…yet.

Most other mushrooms cannot be grown using this method as they either need lots of fresh air exchange or don't like fruiting upwards from a substrate

How To Grow Mushrooms In Shoe Boxes.

Fruiting King Oysters

We will be starting from a position where we already have 100% colonized grain spawn and are ready to spawn into the bulk substrate.


  • Small ShoeBox sized containers with a lid.
  • Bulk Substrate.
  • Large Pot.
  • Grain Spawn.
  • Rubbing Alcohol.
  • Gloves & Face Mask.
  • Kitchen Roll.
  • Jars.
  • Temperature probe.

Prepare Bulk Substrate.

There are many ways to skin this cat, so check out our more detailed description on how to pasteurize bulk substrate if this technique doesn’t interest you.

  • Hydrate the bulk substrate with water, then drain it until it reaches field capacity.
  • Pack the bulk substrate into multiple jars.
  • Place a meat temperature probe in the top of one of the jars and through the center of the substrate.
  • Place the jars into a pan of water which comes about ⅓ up the jars.
  • Heat the water until the jars and the temperature probe reach pasteurization temperatures of 140°F to 160°F.
  • Maintain these temperatures in the bulk substrate for 60 minutes. Then, turn off the heat and allow everything to cool.
Container with bulk substrate.

Spawning A ShoeBox.

First thing I do is put on a mask and gloves, then wipe down the worktop I will be working on. Next, I take a clean damp microfiber towel (straight out of the wash) and cover the worktop.

Next, place all the jars of pasteurized bulk substrate, grain spawn, and shoeboxes onto the microfiber towel.

Take rubbing alcohol and then douse the bottom of the shoebox so it is dripping wet. Spread the alcohol around the box a little bit, then tip it upside down on the microfiber towel. This allows the alcohol to drip down the walls and out of the box; leave it to dry off. This shouldn't take long.

Break up the grain in the grain spawn jars fully so the grains are properly separated.

Next, dump out the pasteurized substrate into the shoeboxes and then add one jar full of grain spawn to each shoebox. Mix the grain spawn and substrate together, keeping the mixture light and not compact.

Fill each shoebox fully, leaving about an inch from the top, and pat down the substrate so that it is flat and even on top.

Finally, remove any excess substrate that might be stuck to the edges of the shoebox or on the outside. Put the lids on each shoebox and move them into incubation.

Leave To Colonize 14 – 28 days

Leave the shoeboxes at room temperature, away from any direct sunlight, where they can stay undisturbed for around 28 days.

Cased Shoe Box Grow

Fruiting ShoeBox Tek.

Once the substrate is completely covered in white mycelium, it's time to start fruiting. To do this, I pop the lid, turn it slightly, and place it on top. This creates small gaps in each corner of the shoebox, increasing fresh air exchange, which should trigger pinning, while also keeping in moisture to prevent the substrate from drying out.

Leave the mushrooms like this, and they should pin and fruit. When the mushrooms start growing close to the lid, you can completely remove it.

Tip: For some strains of mushrooms, it might be a good idea to add a casing layer (details in a separate post).

Mushroom Primodia

Pros of Shoebox Tek:

  • Space Efficiency: Shoebox Tek setups are compact, making them ideal for growers with limited space. Their small size allows for easy arrangement in tight spaces.
  • Cost-Effective: Since shoeboxes are relatively inexpensive and often readily available, this technique can be a cost-effective option for mushroom cultivation.
  • Modularity and Scalability: The modular nature of shoeboxes allows for easy scaling of your cultivation project. You can start with a few boxes and expand as needed.
  • Isolation of Contamination: If contamination occurs, it's usually contained within a single shoebox, reducing the risk of it spreading to your entire cultivation operation. This makes it easier to manage and dispose of contaminated substrates without affecting other batches.
  • Ease of Use: Shoebox Tek is straightforward and doesn't require complex modifications or setups, making it suitable for beginners.

Cons Of ShoeBox Tek:

  • Limited Yield: Due to their smaller size, individual shoe boxes may produce lower yields compared to larger cultivation methods.
  • Frequent Monitoring and Maintenance: Each box needs to be monitored and maintained individually, which can be time-consuming, especially if you have many boxes.
  • Limited Species: ShoeBoxes cannot be used for growing some of the most popular mushrooms such as Lions mane or Oyster Mushrooms.

How much yield can I expect from a single shoe box grow?

The yield depends on the mushroom species and growing conditions, but generally, shoeboxes produce smaller yields due to their limited size compared to larger cultivation methods.

Is Shoebox Tek suitable for beginners?

Yes, its simplicity and small scale make it ideal for beginners looking to start mushroom cultivation without overwhelming investment or space requirements.

How do I maintain humidity in a Shoebox Tek setup?

As with all techniques of growing mushrooms the humidity required for fruiting is added to the substrate before the mix is fruited. There should be no need to spray the mushrooms until they have flushed at least once. Don’t over expose the surface and the substrate wont need spraying.

What type of mushrooms can be grown using Shoebox Tek?

  • King Oyster Mushrooms – These are probably the best tasting gourmet mushroom you are going to grow using shoeboxes.
  • Shiitake – By using ShoeBoxes and a SGFC together you can easily grow shiitake, allow the mushrooms to mature and popcorn inside the shoeboxes then tip it out and fruit the block in a SGFC.
  • Pioppino (black poplar) Mushrooms – Very easy to grow using shoeboxes.
  • Freckled Chestnut (p.adiposa) Mushrooms.
  • Shaggy Mane.
  • Reishi.
  • Cordyceps Militaris – it's possible to pump out a large amount of cordyceps using this technique. 


In summary, Shoebox Tek is an excellent method for hobbyists or those with limited space, offering ease of use, modularity, and effective contamination management. However, it may not be the best choice for those looking for large yields or running a commercial-scale operation.

Checkout some other techniques I have covered for mushroom cultivation such as Bucket Tek, Monotub, SGFC and Jars.

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