Growing your own morel mushrooms is a great way to ensure that after your patch is established that you will always have a supply of these tasty mushrooms come spring.
For the morel mushroom lover, this is a great way to take advantage of their short season even if you do not always get many opportunities to go out foraging for them every year.
Morel mushrooms do not take much focus or work after their first year or two once they have become established and can make a great addition to a shady area of your garden that doesn’t appear to have any other uses.
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How to Get Morel Mushrooms to Plant
Most people that grow morel mushrooms do so after foraging and harvesting wild morel mushrooms. This gives you the freshest mushroom spores allowing you a better chance at preparing morel mushrooms at home compared to a commercial kit.
In the spring you may have luck finding fresh morels at a specialty grocery store or your local farmers market where foragers and growers can sell their harvests.
How to Plant Morel Mushrooms
Mushrooms do not have roots or seeds you can use for planting. Instead, they replicate through spores that are part of the mushroom itself. This is why when foraging for morels you are encouraged to use a basket or bag with holes to help these spores spread on your trip home.
If you plan to grow morels at home you may wish to trap these spores by transporting your mushrooms in a sealed container.
The best way to make a spore mixture for propagation is to boil one gallon of distilled water and add one tablespoon of molasses and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. This will give your spores the best chance of growing. Mushrooms will get energy from the molasses and will be protected from bacteria by salt.
Put in some full-shredded morel mushrooms after the water reaches room temperature. Let the mixture sit for two days, then strain it through a cheesecloth and collect the liquid. Once the mixture sits you can prepare the soil for planting. The liquid will contain microscopic spores that will grow into your mushrooms
Prepare the soil area by tilling in fresh compost and any decaying matter like old wood chips, sticks, and leaves in the area. This helps to create the ideal soil conditions for your moral mushrooms.
Mark off your mushroom bed with garden edging and a marker sign to prevent people from tracking through it or digging to add plants at a later date.
You can scatter the spores over prepared soil by spreading liquid over it. Cover the area with about 1/4 inch of compost.
If you don’t grow mushrooms in the first year, don’t be discouraged. In most cases, you may get a few mushrooms, but the process of establishing a colony can take several years.
You will likely see your first mushrooms within a year or two during the early spring when the wild morels are ready for foraging. In your first spring after planting you can add more spores by repeating this process to help speed up the growth of your mushroom bed.
If you choose to use a commercial morel spore kit, make sure to follow the instructions inside the package. These kits often have a lower success rate than spreading wild morel spores but are a great option for those that do not have access to fresh morels locally.
How to Care for Your Morel Mushroom Patch
Be smart about where you plant your mushroom patch. Morel mushrooms naturally grow under trees including elm, ash, alder, apple, and oak, frequently appearing before these trees have formed a leafy canopy providing plenty of shaded protection from the sun.
Mushrooms do not use photosynthesis to make their own food so they do not look for a sunny patch for survival. Using the base of a tree is a great way to make use of space for your morels.
Mushrooms like loamy soil with plenty of organic matter. If you find yourself in need of a space to get rid of old leaves, decaying mulch, and old meat moss used for starting plants your morel mushroom bed is just the place. If you watch where morels grow in the wild you will see these are the ideal conditions for morels.
You want to keep your mushroom patch moist to encourage mushroom growth. You should avoid watering with tap water as it contains chlorine that will kill off your mushroom spores and ultimately destroy your mushroom bed.
If you have been looking for a reason to start collecting rainwater this is the perfect excuse to get started with your first rain barrel.
Your morel mushrooms will sprout in the spring when the weather is cool and mild with the days reaching the 60s and 70 with nights cooling to the 40s.
Be sure to harvest your morels regularly during this time to help ensure you get as many as possible before the heat rolls in and they die off for the year.
Why not grow some vegetables to go with your mushroom harvest? Check out these guides for more inspiration: