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How to Prepare the Soil to Grow Morel Mushrooms

By Heidi Almond ; Updated September 21, 2017

Morels are one of the most sought-after wild mushrooms, and many chefs consider them a rare and special delicacy. If you can't find a good patch of morels in the wild, you can grow your own at home. Like all mushrooms, morels require a specific habitat and weather conditions, so you will have to choose your site and prepare your soil carefully.

Choose a site that is well-suited for morel mushrooms. In the wild, morels grow on the forest floor under oaks, maples, beech, elm, ash and apple trees. Morels require a period of cold followed by warmer weather to trigger fruiting, so morels will only grow in climates that receive a hard freeze in the winter. Morels need a steadily moist environment and may need to be watered in hot or dry weather, so you should choose a site that is accessible to a sprinkler or hose.

Rake the leaf litter off the forest floor to expose the bare soil. Use the rake or a garden fork to loosen the soil. If the soil is dry, water it lightly until it is moist and crumbly.

Apply the morel mushroom spawn to the loosened soil. The package of spawn should provide specific instructions for how densely to spread the spawn.

Cover the spawn with a light layer of wood chips and use a rake to gently mix the spawn and wood chips with the soil. The wood chips should be from oaks or any of the other trees listed in Step 1, and should ideally be from the same species of trees that are growing around your morel mushroom patch.

Cover the site with the leaf litter you previously raked off.

Water the site regularly to keep it evenly moist. Dry conditions will slow mushroom growth, and overly wet conditions may cause the mushrooms to rot.

 

Things You Will Need

  • Morel mushroom spawn
  • Wood chips
  • Metal rake
  • Garden fork

Tip

  • A morel mushroom garden may be planted anytime in the spring, summer or fall, so long as the soil is workable. Morels are ready for harvest in the spring, April through June, depending on your local climate. It may take a year or more for your morel mushroom patch to establish itself and produce fruiting bodies (mushrooms).

About the Author

 

Heidi Almond worked in the natural foods industry for more than seven years before becoming a full-time freelancer in 2010. She has been published in "Mother Earth News," "Legacy" magazine and in several local publications in Duluth, Minn. In 2002 Almond graduated cum laude from an environmental liberal arts college with a concentration in writing.