You don’t need to have a wooded area, or a huge production line for morel mushrooms to grow, you can grow them yourself at home. Although this job is a little more difficult than growing other types of mushrooms, there is no reason why morels should not grow if the appropriate environment and soil are created.
How Do Morels Grow?
After morel spores meet with soil, the roots are released to take up nutrients and then the fruiting body (mushroom) begins to emerge.
Morels grow best in moist, humid environments that can be difficult to imitate artificially. However, the chances of a successful harvest increase with time, knowledge, skill, and experience.
How Difficult is It To Grow Morels?
Morel mushrooms are one of the upper-class members of the fungi kingdom and are highly sought after. They are also notoriously difficult to grow at home.
Although difficult does not mean impossible. Morel cultivation needs the necessary equipment and kits and can only produce good results when appropriate laboratory conditions are provided.
The most important factor is to simulate suitable weather conditions for these mushrooms to grow indoors. If you plan for an outdoor farm then you need to grow them at the right time of year and live in the right place.
Appropriate weather conditions, such as high humidity and coolness, are essential. Otherwise, you may not get the result you want in the season you planted, or your models may not grow at all.
Despite the first-time results, do not give up. Morels are very sensitive and some farmers may not see morels for years after they have been planted, but they grow eventually.
How Do I Plant Morels?
For the cultivation of your morel mushrooms, you can order mushroom growing kits online and plant them in a patch of pre-prepared soil.
Alternatively, you can extract the spores yourself from a mature morel mushroom by using a spore slurry made from non-chlorinated water and molasses.
Usually, the spores are scattered on top of the soil and left to develop. Depending on the time of year and method, you may need to cover them with sawdust.
With homemade growing, you will need a soil patch containing rotten wood or sawdust and your soil patch will need to be at least 4×4 feet and be nutrient-dense.
For indoor growing, mix compost soil with woodchips and peat-moss into your soil base before spreading the spores.
For outdoor patches, burn dry compost on top of the soil area and mix the ashes into the soil. Apply the morel spores and scatter wood chips or sawdust on the top.
The space you choose will have to have adequate shade, coolness, and high humidity.
How Do I Extract Spores From Morels?
For a spore mix, you need to boil 1 gallon of non-chlorinated water and add a tablespoon of molasses and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Molasses will provide the energy the morels need to release spores and salt will kill any bacteria.
- Let the water cool to room temperature, and drop several morels into the mixture, and seal.
- Leave the mixture to stand for two days. The morels will release their spores into the liquid.
- Filter the water to catch any remaining morel debris, and pour the spore-filled liquid into a clean container.
Pour the liquid over the soil evenly and cover it with compost and sawdust. Your morels should start to grow in the spring so this process is best done nearing the end of the winter months.
Do Morels Need Light?
Morel mushrooms live on and around the fallen leaves of trees such as ebony, ash, alder, apple, and oak trees.
Light brings heat and trees act as a light filter. This is why a cool environment is formed in the forest, morels thrive in places where light is provided but coolness is preserved.
Morels prefer to live in shady places, but light is a necessary condition for their growth.
But light is primarily a factor in moderating the temperature of the soil rather than playing a role in actual morel development. So if you have alternative ways of keeping the soil warm, your morels may not need light to form.
What Type of Soil Do Morels Need?
Morel mushrooms prefer dead wood and plant-dense soils to grow. Nutrients and minerals secreted from dead trees and plants revitalize the soil, creating unique growth areas for morels. Sawdust, wood chips, and peat moss play an important role in the growth of morel fungi.
Morels sometimes prefer to grow on tree stumps as well. This can also be helpful if you are considering growing morels in your garden.
It is important that the soil where morels will grow is moist and warm. If the temperature of the soil is kept at the desired level, the morel-supporting hyphae that live underground will be more active.
Cold soil can kill your morels. It will be to your advantage to mix the crumbs of rotting wood and sawdust into the soil for nutrition and to protect from early spring frosts.
The more mineral-rich the soil, the more likely the morels will grow healthily.
How Important Are Temperature and Humidity For Morel Growing?
The two most important factors for morel mushrooms are coolness and humidity. Morels prefer to grow in humid weather.
In addition, it is possible to see a group of morels suddenly appear after heavy rain. Spring weather around 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit and cool, rainy evening air are perfect morel-producing conditions.
Water and humidity will increase the growth rate and yield of morels. Excessive heat and drought cause morels to dry out quickly and die.
How Long Does It Take To Grow Morels Regularly?
Growing morels is somewhat more difficult than most other mushroom species. But that doesn’t mean you can’t grow morels.
Growing morel mushrooms indoors requires some knowledge and experience. For this reason, before starting the job, you should get the necessary training and make a plan.
You should have basic information about soil types, humidification, ventilation, light and temperature control options.
If you don’t want to be frustrated, be sure of what you’re doing. In general, the first 1-2 years of morel planting may be unsuccessful.
The main reason for an unsuccessful harvest is the lack of information described above and a little bad luck. Even morel experts sometimes fail because the seasons may act unpredictably, or equipment may break.
The best thing to do is persevere. Sometimes morels take a while to establish themselves. The best friend of any morel grower is patience.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.