mmm... Mario like mushrooms

Good day!

Here is a quick – and exciting! – update on our compost bins. As you have read from our previous entry, we decided to be bold with our compost bins by leaving them uncovered overnight for the first time.

This was a decision made after an entire month of composting; we perceived that the bins were safe and unobstructive enough to be left completely unattended throughout the night. Besides, we had our “do not touch” signs on the bins too, just in case any hardworking cleaner decided to clear them out for us.

True enough, when we checked the bins at about 3.30pm today, they were still in their usual state –

undisturbed, clean, dry, and free from odour and pests. Note that this time, we say “free from pests” even though we noticed about 2 to 3 small flies hovering around the bins. This is because they are really negligent.

Picture taken at 3.30pm - the compost bins had been left uncovered overnight.

Completely unperturbed, undisturbed, clean, dry, pest-free, odour-free

No pests or critters in the vicinity - at all!

No flies or bugs - except 2 or 3 small flies which were totally negligible

To prove it further - no flies/bugs on or around the pink bin despite being left uncovered overnight

Likewise for our green bin 🙂

Top hay layer in the pink bin remains dry, odourless, free from pests

Likewise for the green bin 🙂

Next – this is the best part – we found something in the pink bin which really took us by surprise: a mushroom!

See that thing on the right side?

Initially, I thought some mischievous kid around the block had stuck a wilted flower into our pink compost bin. But upon closer look, this “flower” had a long white stem that extended all the way down, close to the bottom of the bin. We also noticed other smaller white “flowers” at the bottom of its white stem.

This was when we realised fungus had grown in our compost bin.

Looks like a wilted flower, doesn't it?

The top view - sorry for the blurred picture! I only had a mobile phone camera on hand.

Check out its looooong white stem

Smaller white mushrooms sprouted near the base of the stem

Here is a short video of it. We figured you might want to see it “in action” 😉

Had this grown overnight? We are not sure. But immediately, we knew this to be a good sign for our compost bin.

Why?

Here’s a quick and easy fungus tidbit for fungus newbies:

(from Composting by Buffy Silverman)

Mushrooms grow in damp soil. Mushrooms are a kind of fungi. Like all fungi, they cannot make their own food. Instead they get nutrients from dead leaves, logs and animals that they grow on. As they do so, they decay the dead plants and animals.

A mushroom is a fruiting body. Fruiting bodies make spores. Spores float through the air and grow into new fungi. If you dig underneath a mushroom in the soil, you will find the body of a fungus. It looks like a mass of white threads growing in all directions.

This mass of threads breaks down whatever it grows upon. Special chemicals ooze out of a fungus. The chemicals break down the fungus’s food, so it can absorb the nutrients.

So there you go! The flower-looking thing we discovered in our bin is actually a mushroom! The visible part – as you have read in the excerpt above – is the fruiting body (mushroom). We also noticed that the portion of hay nearest to the mushroom had turned dark in colour. This could have been due to the spores produced by the mushroom; notice that the mushroom head is also dark in colour, so the dark spores from it could have landed onto the hay.

If there is enough moisture and nutrients surrounding the spores, they would grow into mushrooms too 🙂

So as aforementioned, we noticed the long white stem of the mushroom when we pushed aside some of the hay to take a better look. From the side view of our semi-translucent compost bin, you could see that the stem of the mushroom was very long, extending all the way down, close to the bottom of the bin. A few other smaller white mushrooms had sprouted near the bottom of the stem.

Next, we believe that the extreme end of the long white stem would have – like what the above excerpt says – a “mass of white threads growing in all directions”. But we can’t see it now because of the nature of our compost bin and its contents. We also did not want to dig too much into the bin and disrupt the growth of the mushrooms.

Nevertheless, we can expect the white threads to be there to aid in the breaking down of the compost materials. The “special chemicals” from the fungus will also play the same role, thereby allowing the fungus (mushroom) to absorb the resulting nutrients. This is how fungi grow and act as decomposers in nature!

Kapish? 🙂

Joe and I never realised how much we can actually learn from composting alone until eye-opening moments like today. Everyday, as we compost, we discover things that we never imagined. In fact, I have been so inspired that I have borrowed children books (don’t laugh!) and adult books on composting, recycling, waste management and gardening.

The libraries in Singapore hold a wealth of books for both young and mature readers to enjoy. Here’s what I’m reading now:

Composting: An Easy Household Guide by Nicky Scott

Compost: The Natural Way To Make Food For Your Garden by Ken Thompson

Dealing With Waste: Leftover Food by Sally Morgan

Do It Yourself: Composting by Buffy Silverman

Do It Yourself: Growing Plants by Anna Claybourne

Kids Container Gardening: Year-Round Projects For Inside And Out by Cindy Krezel

Mike McGrath's Book of Compost

Girls Gone Green by Lynn Hirshfield

You may also find these books on the National Library Board Catalogue easily.

We hope everything we’ve shared in this post inspires you about composting and living green too! Do feel free to drop any comment, enquiry, advice or feedback on this blog. We are more than happy to hear from you 🙂

Lastly, if you like what we’re doing here, do support us on Facebook! Help us bring green awareness to fellow Singaporeans, and encourage them to recycle right at home too.

Have a blessed week ahead! 🙂

Advertisements

2 responses »

  1. Waste Bins says:

    This mushroom is the second most widely cultivated mushroom in the world. Waste Bins

    • Michelle Sarah says:

      Hi Waste Bins! Thank you for visiting our blog. Do you know the name of the mushroom? Looking forward to hearing from you, thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s