Morel mushrooms are considered pretty unique compared to the rest of their fungi family – they’re rich, nutty, and don’t have that slimy quality that mushroom-haters despise. They seem to be cropping up on more and more restaurant menus and might be easier to find in your supermarket due to their popularity.
However, morel mushrooms are not cheap. If you’re a big fan of them and fancy a new project at home, you might’ve considered growing your own. But does that require setting aside part of the garden to them? Wouldn’t it just be easier to grow them inside?
Morel mushrooms can be grown indoors, but it is a technical, arduous process. It requires expensive laboratory equipment, and it takes a long while. There are morel mushroom growing kits you can buy to use at home, but these are designed to be used outside.
If you want to grow morel mushrooms at home, unless you wish to invest in a lot of equipment, then this must be done outside in your yard.
How To Grow Morels Indoors
Though few people succeed in growing morels indoors, it has been done. If you’re a fierce morel lover, don’t have the outdoor space to grow mushrooms, and don’t mind investing in some kit to help the process along, then you can grow your own morels indoors.
This method was developed by Peter Dilley, and his full instructions can be found here. The process involves propagating morels and growing the spores in a petri dish. Then you must measure the moisture, humidity, and fresh air inside while growing these spores in soil enriched with various chemicals.
If you like science and are up for a challenge, this is one way you can grow morels indoors.
Home Formulas For Growing Morels
If you feel like buying a morel growing kit feels too much like cheating, there are home formulas to grow morel mushrooms. This should work outside and are highly unlikely to work inside.
Firstly, add one tablespoon of molasses and a pinch of salt to a gallon of boiling distilled water.
Then, let this water cool to room temperature, and add in some shredded morel mushrooms. Having plenty of morel mushrooms really helps when you’re trying to grow more of them, ironically.
Let this mixture rest for two days, and then strain and collect the water. This is best done through a cheesecloth or something similar. This water will contain morel mushroom spores.
This water can then be put over some soil and then covered with an extra layer of compost. This layer on top should only be about 1cm thick.
Then – voila! You can watch the growth of your mushrooms. However, morels are known for being a little unpredictable. It doesn’t necessarily mean you did anything wrong if they didn’t grow or take longer than you expected.
You may not get any mushrooms in the first year, but your spores can still form a colony of healthy morels over the years.
Best Growing Conditions For Morels – And Why The Struggle To Grow Inside
Though you may not be able to grow morels indoors, there are still ways to grow morels at home, in your yard, or garden. If you’ve bought a kit or tried a home-growing formula like the one above, here are some ways you can ensure you give your morels the best chance of growing.
These factors should explain why it is challenging to grow morels indoors and give you an idea of how to create the perfect environment to grow these tasty fungi yourself.
In the wild, morels grow in the dappled light of a forest. They can typically be found around alder, elm, apple, and oak trees.
Morel mushrooms, like most fungi, do not require much sunlight at all, as they do not produce chlorophyll like plants. Instead, they need a little sunlight to warm the soil around them.
Therefore, some soft sunlight is needed to help morels grow, but be sure they are not too exposed to the sun’s rays.
Morel mushrooms grow best in soil where other trees and vegetation are decaying. The nutrients that return to the earth from these dying plants feed morel mushrooms. Therefore, if you can, try and grow morels in soil with rotting plant matter, as this creates soil rich in the nutrients morels love.
If this might cause some difficulties, you can use peat moss, sand, wood ash, or wood chips (preferably from ash, oak, or elm trees) as additives to your current soil to create an environment that morels will love.
When you think of the temperature of a forest – you’re probably imagining something quite cool, misty, and moist. This is how morels grow best; mild days and cool evenings with some rain and cloud create enough moisture for them to flourish.
Therefore, when trying to grow morels, this must be considered. Make sure the soil is always moist and that they are not too hot at any point – about 70 degrees Fahrenheit could stunt the growth of your morels.
If you’re determined to grow your own morels, then you might think of investing in an excellent fertilizer to simplify the process. However, morels do not really need any particular food; they thrive on plant waste.
If you can get hold of composted manure, wood ash, leaf mold, or some good compost for your soil, this will give you the best chance of growing morels.
If you do manage to grow your own morels at home or are looking to find some in the wild to use their spores, it is crucial to know how and when to harvest them correctly.
Morel mushrooms can be harvested at any age; they don’t tend to change significantly in taste as they grow. However, if they are growing in an exposed area, it is worth considering if it is better to harvest them earlier and not risk any weather or animal damage to them.
You can harvest morels by pinching them; they should break at the ground quite easily. You can also cut them.