Morel mushrooms (Morchella esculenta), flavorful fungi with a cone-shaped, pitted cap that fetch high prices on the commercial market, can be cultivated in your backyard. Cultivation requires a shady area, mushroom spores or a growing kit and patience, because these edible fungi may take two or more seasons to propagate. Nevertheless, the final result can be worth the wait. You need to prep soil, distribute spores and nurture the planting area to create your own crop of morel mushrooms.
Pick a shady area in the yard, preferably under a tree that would spawn morel mushrooms: an oak, maple, elm, ash or beech tree. Clear an area that is the size indicated on the growing kit, or allow 7 to 8 square feet for each pound of spores used.
Remove debris from the area, setting it aside for later use. Loosen existing soil about 1 to 2 inches deep. Moisten the area if it is dry.
Soak the wood chips in water for 48 hours, and then distribute 1 pound of wood chips for every 7 to 8 feet of growing area.
Add to the prepared wood chips the morel mushroom spores that you collected (see the Resources section for directions on cultivating spores) or started by following the instructions included with a growing kit. Turn the spores lightly into the soil and wood chips using a rake.
Cover the area again with the original ground debris to retain moisture and insulate the spores. Keep the cultivated area moist during hot and dry months.
Harvest the mushrooms from late April to early June of the following year at the earliest.