Many parts of the United States are home to the Morel Mushroom, an interesting-looking fungus that is well sought after as a popular delicacy. These tasty shrooms can be challenging to find in the wild, as their growing habits have a lot of mystery. Though they can be somewhat unpredictable, it is still possible to grow them at home.
You’ll likely have the most success growing Morels outdoors, as indoor growing proves to be extremely difficult, even for experts. Morels grow best in soil with a high amount of decaying wood and tree litter. They also prefer filtered light and cool, moist environments. Lastly, they require patience and time.
If you plan to dine on these mushrooms in the near future, your best bet is to lace up your hiking boots and hit the mountains for some foraging or check local vendors. If you decide to grow your own Morels, you’ll need some information on these peculiar fungi. To learn more about growing these gourmet shrooms, read on.
What You’ll Need to Grow Morel Mushrooms
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that once you’ve tasted a Morel, you’d want to grow your own. Dredged in flour with a bit of salt, pepper, and a pinch of thyme and fried in butter… it’s enough to make anybody google “how to grow Morel mushrooms.”
Before we get in too deep, we would like to note; Morel mushrooms can be tough to grow, and a successful seeding can take five or more years before harvestable mushrooms appear, if at all. That said, it isn’t impossible, just very difficult.
Morels require a particular set of conditions to flourish. You can’t simply use a pot and potting soil and expect to water daily; Morels are much too fussy. Also, one spot that flourished with the mushrooms the year prior might not show mushrooms again for several years.
Morels needs soil that contains a lot more than dirt. These mushrooms grow primarily in soil with a lot of:
You’ll need to avoid clay and rock-heavy soil.
It is common to find wild Morels in areas where a forest fire has burned through in the previous season. So, to increase your chances of growing Morels, you’ll need to mix wood chips, wood ash, gypsum, sand, and peat moss into your planting area.
This keeps the soil light and fluffy with lots of pockets for trapping moisture and air. Fungi, like Morels, don’t have root systems like plants. Instead, they have mycelium, which are fragile, minute white fibers that feed the mushrooms’ fruiting bodies. So, a soft and decaying substrate is much easier for them to grow upon.
Here’s a helpful video showing a few methods to get started on your own:
Filtered Ambient Light
Morels are frequently found growing around the bases of larger, old trees. Not only is this perfect for the mushrooms because of the soil quality and the tree litter, but the light is optimal beneath the boughs of large trees.
Morels don’t do well in direct light and heat. They need to stay somewhat cool and moist, and the gentle light that comes through the canopy of a tree is perfect. So, if you are trying to grow Morels without a tree to shade them, you’ll need to provide some shade.
You can use the shadiest side of your house, as long as it still gets a good amount of diffused ambient light. If you don’t have a tree or good placement in the shade, constructing a small lean-to might be your only option. Remember, they are unlikely to grow in direct sunlight.
Not swampy, but not too dry. Morels prefer slight dampness, like a wrung-out sponge. If your soil is prepared correctly, it should hold moisture well without things getting too soggy. You don’t want puddling happening.
There must be good drainage in place for optimal levels of moisture. That’s part of the reason why gypsum, peat moss, sand, and wood chips are so important in the soil. Not just for feeding the fledgling fungi, but for optimal drainage.
It is also best practice to use reclaimed rainwater, well water, or distilled water free of chlorine, fluoride, and other contaminants. Did we mention that Morels are finicky?
The growing container shown in this video is a good way to help keep regular moisture easier:
A Cool Climate
Morels cannot grow in tropical areas, as it is just too hot. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, or even too low in the northern, you’re out of luck. They only grow in bands across the northern hemisphere, and still, they are exclusively distributed in certain areas that meet their requirements.
60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit with lows in the 40s are your best bet. Morels can’t tolerate freezing, yet they will grow right alongside the snowmelt in some areas in the early spring. Winters with heavy snows that turn into warm, early springs tend to produce reasonable amounts of Morels. Long, drawn-out cold spells of thaw and freeze tend to make for poor harvests.
Morels only grow in climates that have dramatic seasonal changes. These mushrooms will not grow if you don’t have a cold, snowy winter or shorter periods of dry, high heat.
You’ll also need to be vigilant if you do manage to grow morals. If they get too hot, they can wither away before you even notice they have sprung up since they can fully form from nothing in under a week.
Morels don’t happen fast. Even if you successfully seed an area and get the growing conditions right, the fungus grows slowly. Mycelia needs to colonize and spread for quite some time before the fruiting bodies appear above ground.
It’s possible that you may see a couple of mushrooms appear in your first year, but it is likely to take some time. With proper conditions and managing light and moisture, you should be developing a hardy colony of mycelia beneath the soil, which could produce regular colonies of Morels in the next 3-7 years.
Here’s a video explaining how to grow them indoors with grow kits info below:
Using A Morel Growing Kit
Your best bet of successfully growing Morels in your backyard is with one of these kits. Such as the Morel Habitat Kit available on Amazon. Many of these kits are available, and they take a good portion of the work on themselves.
With a good set of instructions, a large amount of pretty positive reviews, and a growing guarantee, a grow kit is a low-cost option that can help to ensure you’re not wasting all that time with your Morel growing endeavor.
With a growing kit, you can produce the final step in growing Morels, preparing the spores for planting. Some kits differ in their preparation methods, so you’ll need to follow the instructions to the letter included with your kit.
What Is Mushroom Spawn?
Some kits include spores; some include spawn. Spawn is an amount of substrate, like:
- Rye berries
- Wood chips
That is impregnated with Morel mycelium. Using spawn to start your Morel garden makes things super simple, even low-cost, as all you are doing is adding the spawn substrate to your prepared area. Source: mushroomappreciation.com
Growing Morel mushrooms is no easy task, but it is doable. You’ll need to make sure that you do things right and don’t cut any corners because one error can mean that you’ve waited five years for a mushroom-no-show. Still, you may do everything perfectly and still not get a harvestable patch of mushrooms. But it is a low-cost endeavor, and if you give it your all, we believe you can make some mushrooms grow in your backyard.