Due to the elusive nature of morels, many mushroom fanatics choose to grow their own morel mushrooms either indoors or outdoors rather than hunting for them. There is no exact science to growing morels. For this reason, their growth has not yet been commercialized.
It is important to understand that the process of cultivating morels (Morchella) can take at least a year to see any results! The morel spores require time to spread underground.
Fungi generally spread underground and fruit in ways not common to everyday garden plants.
Yet, there are many morel farmers that have seen success with their mushroom growing efforts.
There seems to be two major ways that farmers have grown morels in the past. One way is to make a spore solution and spread it in various locations. Another method is to create a morel spawn using a morel mushroom growing kit and distribute the spawn in a specific mushroom bed made for the purpose of growing morel mushrooms.
In this article, you will learn how to grow morel mushrooms using both methods mentioned as well as various tips, conditions to be aware of, how to clean your mushrooms, dehydrating your morel batch, as well as how to store your fungi.
Morel mushroom growing season
The growing season for morel mushrooms tends to be in spring when the grounds are moist and the weather is moderate. You can typically find morels ripe for the picking between March and May. However, the range in which morels can span is broad. You can very well see morels growing in summer, fall, and even winter depending on the habitat.
The first characteristic a mushroom maven should take into account is the moisture of the environment. You will experience a better harvest season if there has been plenty of moisture and rainfall. Morel mushrooms thrive in moist climates, so you will generally want to plant them in shaded areas.
This explains their symbiotic relationship with trees!
The second thing you will want to pay attention to is the ground and air temperature. Your morel mushroom growing efforts could very well be halted if the air and soil temperatures are extremes! Generally speaking, you are looking for moderate to cool temperatures to give your morel spores the best chance to fruit.
Spore Slurry Method
So let’s learn some methods on how to grow morel mushrooms as home. Check out the video below that explains exactly how this man and his family produced huge amounts of morel mushrooms. Keep in mind that this is most likely not the first time he has grown in this particular area. You probably won’t experience the extreme success he does in this video on your first try.
Stick with it though! This method can turn out to be the cheapest and easiest way to get results.
There is a couple of things he forgets to touch upon in the video such as when to begin planting. However, if you pay close enough attention you can determine he is most likely planting in late winter. He also doesn’t mention his location which will play a big role in the time you spreading spores.
Let’s touch upon what was talked about in this video…
Start by creating what the author calls a Spore flurry mix. You will need spores, wood chips, flour, and some unfiltered water. Quickly mix this in a blender.
Place the spore flurry in a 5 gallon bucket with unfiltered water, two tablespoons of un-sulphured molasses, a tablespoon of salt, and let this solution brew for 24-48 hours using an air stone.
Additionally, you can mix in some seaweed fertilizer, some rice grains, and completely dry wood ash that has not been rained on.
The molasses serves as early food for the morchella to grow, the salt slows down any bacterial growth that may occur, and the air stone keeps the brew from going anaerobic.
The rice grains add extra food just in case of an early dry spell. The dry wood ash is added to mimic the remains of a forest fire; which morels are often found near. The ash also helps to lower the acidity of the soil and brings up the ph.
Morel Mushroom Growing Kits & Spawn Method
Using morel growing kits is the most popular method among mushroom enthusiasts.
You can purchase mushroom spawn, which is the “vegetative growth” of the mushrooms and the material in which it was grown. Spawn comes in different forms such as sawdust, wood chips, and grain.
You can then use the spawn to inoculate substrate to create a bed for your mushrooms.
The morel growing kit comes with either spawn or spores with instructions teaching you how to grow morel mushrooms using the kit approach.
Most mushroom growing kits will follow the general outline below.
Morel Flower Bed
- You will want inoculate around summer or autumn in a region that experiences changes in seasons. Tropical climates won’t produce morels… unless you choose to grow them indoors.
- Your mushroom bed will be about 4’ X 4’ and should be placed in the shadiest sport you can find. Try to find a spot where the soil is already fairly moist if at all possible.
- Create the soil mixture for the morel bed. You want a fairly large grain for your soil to ensure there is proper drainage. Peat moss mixed with gypsum in a sandy soil has proven to work quite well.
- Add some burnt wood ashes to the soil. Don’t fully burn the wood.
- Spread the spawn as the instructions require around the mushroom bed.
- Use hardwood chips from either elm, old apple, tulip, or ash trees and spread these around the morel mushroom bed.
That’s it! Now you just have to maintain the right amount of moisture according to the instructions. You should have some morel mushroom growth within a year. If you don’t notice any results, don’t worry, you may just have to wait longer.
You may also want to consider morels symbiotic relationship with trees when spreading morel spores/spawn.
Using the slurry method, you can distribute the spores around the base of trees such elm or ash which will inoculate the roots of the tree with mycelium.
This can increase your chances of producing morels in any given growing season!
It is even more important that you plant these around the roots of a very young tree. Then, nurture the tree as you would normally. The benefit of this, is the tree and mycelium will grow together.
You also have the option of buying pre-inoculated baby trees which already have roots that are “infected” with mycelium. Plant these in the right location and nurture them accordingly and you may be growing morels very soon.
Growing morel mushrooms indoors is no easy feat. Many have tried and failed because of the fickle nature of morels. However, there have been a few success stories we can learn from when trying to learn how to grow morel mushrooms indoors.
I won’t go into details about how to grow these yourself, but I do suggest you check out Peter Dilley’s Grow Morels Instructions. This page will go in depth for growing morels indoors and I highly recommend you check it out if you are planning on growing indoors.
Dehydrating Morchella Species
The drying process for morels is very simple. We are going to be drying our morel mushrooms in the sun so that they can be stored for later dates.
To begin you want to clean the morels off. Don’t use water to clean them but simply brush the excess dirt away from the stems; use a small brush or your fingers to do so.
Place the morels on an old soda flat (or any base with holes in it) so that the morels will experience air circulation all around. You can also use a non-metal window screen for this, tie the morels up using string, and hang them up outside in a sunny area.
For medium to large sized morels you want to slice them in half to speed up the drying process.
Place the rack of morchella outside in a sunny area. Leave the morels outside for a couple days making sure to flip them every so often to ensure even drying.
Additionally, you can choose to string each morel together. Tie the string inside of your oven and place on low for an hour or two to speed up the drying process. This method is faster but can ultimately impact the taste.
Lastly, if you have a dehydrator at home this can serve as a faster means to drying out your morel batch!
You want to make sure that each morel is very dry so that they don’t grow mold over time. Test to see if you can easily break one of the morels by bending it; they should be very brittle.
How to store morel mushrooms
You want to make sure you store your dried morel mushrooms properly so that they will last for potentially several years. You will be able to to re hydrate your morels to cook with and they will still taste fresh and delicious!
We are going to store our morels in a sterilized and completely dry mason jar. Mark the jar with the date and name of the mushroom. Store this jar in a cool dark place. Make sure that the jar is not in a warm area!