Sunday, November 02, 2014

Lovely Backyard Fungus


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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