Morchella (morel) mushrooms have a unique flavour prized by gourmet cooks. Used extensively in French cuisine, Morchella have an earthy, woodsy, intense taste often described as addictive. Morchella are expensive because they take a long time to fruit and tend to grow naturally in areas burnt by forest fires. Many people enjoy mushroom hunting, but Morchella also grow in backyards with the proper soil preparation, care and patience. Using a commercially purchased mushroom spawn eliminates much of the difficulty of growing these mushrooms.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Partially shady area
- Morel mushroom spawn
- Oak wood chips or mulch
- Wood ashes from a wood stove, firepit or fireplace (optional)
- Peat moss
- Clean sand
Place the purchased mushroom spawn in a dark location with a temperature of 10 to 26.7 degrees Celsius for one week. This allows the spawn to recover from travelling.
Locate a shady growing area facing north. In the wild, Morchella mushrooms generally grow near oak trees on a north-facing slope. Cool locations away from sprinklers produce the best yields.
Till the soil to a depth of 6 inches. Mix the wood chips, wood ash, peat moss and sand in equal amounts. Apply a 4-inch layer of the mixture to the soil and mix well. Distribute the mushroom spawn according to the product instructions and mix into the soil. Water thoroughly.
Cover the entire bed with 4 inches of wood chips and water again. Continue to water when the soil feels dry on the surface, but avoid soggy soil.
Tips and warnings
- Morchella spawn and growing kits are available from online retailers specialising in mushroom growing supplies.
- Store Morchella spawn for up to six months in the refrigerator.
- White cottony patches (mycelium) indicate your mushrooms are growing and doing well.
- Wood ash is not neccessary for Morchella production, but it is used by most commercial producers.
- Green, black or slimy patches are mould. While small amounts are not harmful, reduce watering if you see mould.
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