Sunday, November 02, 2014

Lovely Backyard Fungus

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Because the soil around my house has the consistency of hardened concrete, I'm constantly digging in buckets and buckets of organic material. Sometimes, this is compost. A lot of the time, the "organic material" is the free mulch that I get from the municipal piles near where I work.  Since Robb and I bought our house, I have dug hundreds of gallons of woodchips into our soil.  (I'm measuring in gallons, because I use five gallon paint buckets to haul the woodchips.)

All that decomposing wood results in a lot of interesting fungus in the garden.  Even though California is in the middle of a massive drought, our garden gets a pretty good overnight dew-fall.  Mushrooms have been sprouting up all over.

The photo at the top of this page is of a teeny-tiny bird's nest fungus.  I've written about them before, both the one's I've found in Oakland, and the ones in France.  I have mixed success photographing really tiny objects.  This was the best I managed.  The individual fungi are about a quarter of an inch across, maybe less.




The area where we removed the dying brugmansia has always been a hot-bed of fungal activity.  Now that the brugmansia stump is decomposing, there seem to be more mushrooms than ever.




These tiny red mushrooms are very cheerful.  Some time back, I had some idea about testing them to see if they might produce any interesting dyes.  I harvested quite a few, and before I could do any experiments, I discovered that they were crawling with tiny maggot-like creatures.  Ugh.  No thank you.  I'm not interested in making art from squirming ingredients. 




I really enjoy the ephemeral delicacy of these mushrooms.  They seem quite magical and mysterious to me.

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