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.
Next – this is the best part – we found something in the pink bin which really took us by surprise: a mushroom!
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.
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.
Here’s a quick and easy fungus tidbit for fungus newbies:
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!
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:
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 🙂
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Have a blessed week ahead! 🙂