How to Make Morel Slurry and Grow Morel Mushrooms on Your Property
If you’re a mushroom enthusiast, you probably know how difficult it can be to grow certain types of mushrooms at home. Morel mushrooms are one such variety that can be challenging to cultivate -they’ve evaded commercial growing for years and many people will tell you they’re impossible to grow. However, with the right techniques and a bit of patience, and maybe a pinch of good fortune, you can successfully grow morel mushrooms on your property. In this article, I’ll explain how to make your own morel slurry and use it to grow morel mushrooms.
A Recipe for Morel Slurry
To make morel slurry, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- A few fresh or dry morel mushrooms (one morel mushroom is host to a multitude of spores, so if you only have one, that’s ok, but use a few if you can)
- Molasses or Honey (a tablespoon or two will do)
- A blender or food processor
- A large jar
- A big bucket
- Ashes (a cup or so is good, it’s optional but HIGHLY recommended and more likely to make this whole experiment work out for you.)
How to Make Morel Slurry:
- DO NOT Clean the mushrooms: You want to get as many spores as possible mixed into your morel slurry, so whether you’re working with fresh or dry morel mushrooms, don’t rinse them off.
- Start your Morel Slurry: Boil however much water will fill your jar and add your molasses or honey and let it cool to lukewarm, pour it in the blender with your mushrooms and let it blend for a few seconds. You don’t need the mushrooms to get chopped up very tiny, pea size is plenty small enough. Then pour it into the jar. If you don’t have a blender, chop up your mushroom into the jar with your water/molasses or honey and shake it up (with a lid on, obviously…) Either way, when that’s all set and your slurry is in the jar, you’ll want to cover it with a very clean piece of cloth or paper napkin (if you use a piece of cloth, you can throw it in the water when it’s boiling to sterilize it, pull it out before you add whatever sweet stuff you’re using) and use a rubber band to hold it on the jar. This just makes it so that your slurry can breathe without much of anything landing in it. Let it sit and steep overnight.
- The next morning, or afternoon, or whenever you get to it – Pour the contents of the jar into your clean bucket. Add your scoop of ashes. Fill the bucket up with water (lukewarm is good but cold is ok, just not hot as hot water will kill your morel spores) Put the bucket somewhere safe where small children won’t fall into it/mess with it, put the lid on loosely and leave it overnight again. Voila! You now have Morel Slurry!
Growing Morel Mushrooms
Now that you have morel slurry, you can use it to grow morel mushrooms on your property. Follow these steps to get started:
- Choose a location: Morel mushrooms are usually found around the edges of wooded areas, especially near trees like oak and pine, but they like elm, ash, and aspen too. They are most often found in areas that have been burned, like from forest fires. So even if you don’t live in a forestry area, if you’re able to recreate this sort of environment, like making a shady spot with woodchips and ash you’ll have a higher chance of success at growing your morels. If you’ve got the good luck to be near a forest, I’d run around with my bucket of slurry and put it all over the place. Anyway, all you have to do is pour some of your slurry into each area that you’d like to have morels grow in and leave them alone for a few years. Focus on shady areas that are rarely disturbed or walked on.
- I’m gonna say it again, it usually takes 2-5 years for this to work. You might get lucky after a year and see a few pop up. You might never see any. But if you’re patient, you’re likely to reap the rewards in a few years. It’s more likely to work in climates that have a winter season, as it’s actually the cold snap at the end of the year that shocks them into growing each spring. You’re best off spreading Morel Slurry around the time of year that they grow in your area to mimic their natural growth cycles, but you can do it any time spring through fall.
Tips for Growing Morel Mushrooms Successfully
- Morel mushrooms are finicky and may not grow in every location. Experiment with different areas of your property to find the best spot.
- The best spot also means finding a spot that won’t be disrupted by the goings on at your home – I had THE BEST spot set up with several layers of morel slurry, woodchips and ash. Unfortunately, my chickens also thing that it’s the best spot and have been burrowing in and snacking on the contents of whatever is in that spot at this point, so I’m glad they’re happy but I have limited optimism that I’ll see any morels growing there any time soon (but you better bet I’ll be looking every ten seconds to see if anything happens to pop up there this spring!)
- Morel mushrooms prefer woody areas that have been burned rather than soil. Adding a bit of ash to the blend or sprinkling it on the ground where you’ll pour the slurry can help recreate this type of environment and increase your chances of success.
- Be patient: Morel mushrooms can take a long time to grow, two to five years at a minimum, so be patient and don’t give up too quickly.
- Don’t be fussing over them. Cover the area where you’d like them to grow with your Morel Slurry, and then LEAVE IT ALONE! They don’t need help.
- Avoid using pesticides or herbicides: Most mushrooms including morel mushrooms (and honestly all of the other living things including humans) are not going to thrive in a spot where there are a lot of chemicals (or salt, if you’re putting them near somewhere where you salt sidewalks/your driveway in the winter – mushrooms HATE salt when they’re growing, save it for when you’re cooking your mushrooms! Ha, all joking aside, put them far enough from any surfaces that get salted that the runoff when things melt doesn’t land on your mushroom growing zone, and that applies no matter what kind of mushrooms you’re growing.
- Harvest carefully: When harvesting the morel mushrooms, cut them neatly at the base of the stem to leave as much of the surrounding mycelium intact as possible – seasoned morel mushroom hunters will also tell you that there’s wisdom in leaving a few morels growing when you’re harvesting the others, that way the ones you leave can spread more spores and yield a better harvest the following year.