My gardens are growing an astonishing assortment of fungi this year. Having only done this urban homesteading thing for one previous season, I am pretty much surprised by everything. But the fungus really got me.
The first thing I noticed was a weird patch of yellow spore-looking things in one section of the garden. The next day I came back and it had changed into a different form. I instantly recognized it. Vomit fungus. Okay, that’s not its real name. But it is truly a striking resemblance.
The first time I saw this particular growth I was walking towards campus and honestly thought some frat boy had had too much to drink. Then I saw it more and more through the garden beds on campus. Again, “Wow, big party weekend.” It wasn’t until I saw it on out-of-the-way spots that would be hard to vomit into that it occurred to me that it might not be vomit after all.
The guilty subject is slime mould. I am not an expert on fungus-like organisms, so it took me a while to identify it, although it is pretty distinctive.
The good news is that the slime mould won’t hurt the garden. I was having nightmares of this blob slowly engulfing the entire bed and all my plants with it. It did start to take over one poor sweet potato vine, but I was relieved to learn that it at least wasn’t going to eat the plant.
Could slime moulds be, in fact, beneficial? From the Colorado State Extension article link above:
The slime molds that can grow in wood mulches are classed as ‘beneficial’ organisms and it’s possible that they feed on harmful plant pathogenic fungi found in bark and wood chips, thus controlling the harmful fungi naturally. Therefore, the benefits of slime mold to tree and shrub health outweigh the aesthetic problem of vomit-like blobs in the garden.
Well, maybe. But I still don’t want them there. Plus, they sure don’t smell very good when the wind blows.
So the slime mould came, grew, expanded, took over everything in its path (including the soaker hose) and then dried up. I haven’t tried to remove it yet, but it does at least look like it’s completed this phase of its lifecycle.
The bad news is that it’s introduced through the environment, so there’s not really a way to keep it from coming back. If all the stars align and the environmental conditions are right, you can get slime mould. Mmm.
So that was the big excitement a week or two back. Then yesterday I discovered a new species.
This stuff looks like deer poop. And it seems to be originating from the worm poop. How ironic.
There was also one cap-type mushroom along the side of the bed. Today it has multiplied into several huge mushrooms. What is going on?? I recognize that it’s been rainy and humid, but really, is this necessary?
It’s also interesting to note that the slime mould was isolated to bed #3, and the shrooms have so far been isolated to bed #2. Bed #1 has not been affected at all, so I’m guessing there is something in the compost/rice hull mix that is stimulating the growth in #2 and #3.
Someone let me know if I’m accidentally growing expensive gourmet mushrooms before I destroy them, okay?