Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's Living in Our Compost Tube?

We haven't observed any change in temperature, but the food scraps in our compost tube are definitely starting to rot. And things are growing: above, looking down the neck of the soda bottle, you can see an onion sprouting up from the pile. We also took a sample of the water which collects in the bottom of the tube and took a look under the microscope. Check out the videos below:

Here you can see some of the microorganisms living in our compost pile at 40X magnification, shot with a small hand-held digital camera. The worm above is called a nematode. Cornell's Department of Crop and Soil Science has a page about compost inhabitants. They also have an online guide called Composting in the Classroom: Scientific Inquiry for High School Students which we haven't checked out yet but will.

Above is a 400X magnification of the kidney-shaped organisms, which are probably protozoa. Here's a page about Microbial Decomposers, with microphotos, from the city of Euless, Texas.

1 comment:

Composters said...

This is really interesting viewing and reading for gardeners who are always looking at finding ways to improve the composting process. It's also a great experiment to have in the classroom. Aerating the decomposed matter and food scraps might also speed up the decomposition in the pile.