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Do I have a mold problem?

Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

I am so confused. I uncovered a few of my containers today to take a look and make sure I didn't need to add more drainage holes to deal with all the rain we have gotten recently. And discovered what looks sort of like moss or mold on the surface of the growing medium in lots of my containers. It is so strange. I don't even know what it is or how to manage it if it is something harmful. And as you can see in the picture, it will grow in some containers and then the container right next to it will be green stuff free. I used Miracle Gro Moisture Control Seed Starting Mix so I am fairly sure the "sterile-ness" wasn't a problem. I am going to post another picture that is an super close-up. Any help or input would be greatly appreciated as this is my first year with wintersowing. I thought I got the method right and will be so bummed if I have to throw in the towel.

Thumbnail by kellydz
Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

Here is the super close-up.

Thumbnail by kellydz
Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Yikes. It's hard to tell - maybe algae? Or moss? Spores for either could blow in from the air.

I would think, if there were that much mold or fungus, it would spread everywhere and kill all seedlings. For those, I would say "ventilate it more, let it dry some, and get bright sun onto it".

Not sure how to keep rain out and let sun in - but "too wet" might not be good. I like to have the soil drain very well, adding perlite or chicken grit or fairly coarse crushed rock

If it's algae, maybe it's there because it gets a lot of sun? You might let the surface dry out ... maybe. Usually plenty of ventilation sounds good to me, but I'm no WS expert!

Sorry, no good ideas.

Is anything at all coming up? You might rescuse anything that sprouts, keep it dryer and brighter, maybe sprinkle sand or Perlite over the surfacee.

Corey

Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

Thanks for the feedback Corey. I just find it baffling because there are lots of things sprouting and they don't seem to be dying off (yet??) but I can't be sure until I go out tomorrow to look if there are any of the affected containers have seedlings. I wonder if the additive in the "Moisture Control" soil I used is making it hold onto to too much water. Just a random idea and doesn't seem possible but who knows.

It is supposed to be in the 60s and partly sunny tomorrow so I think I am going to uncover everything and give them the day to air out. And maybe add more drainage to some of the ones that have the most green. I am tempted to try to scrape it off but if it is mold and not moss or algae I worry about spreading it more. And I worry about scraping up the seeds with the green stuff. Hopefully some of the WS veterans will take a look at this post and let me know what they think.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

I have green on the surface of some of my WS milk jugs- I haven't been too concerned about it. Nothing has sprouted yet, but we are still freezing at night.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

It looks pretty wet, maybe prop the lids open during the day so the surface dries some? could your drainage holes be clogged? I use the same miracle grow without a problem, but I have a lot of slits cut in my bottoms for drainage.

Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

I wonder am going to try a combo approach. I am going to scrape off the green layer in the containers that I know have seeds planted down deep enough. And definitely going to prop them open today and add more drains. Since things are sprouting OK I am going to assume it isn't harmful and hope for the best. Thanks for the feedback!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

Great, please let us know how it goes. I didn't even get green fuzz to sprout in my tubs (first year attempt).

I might suggest something you probably already know: whatever tool or gloves you use to scrape mystery gunk with, afterwards rinse them off outdoors and then clean well with soap and/or bleach and/or peroxide.

Corey

Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

I let them air out all day today and added a bunch more drain holes. I think it helped a bit. Lots of seedlings growing in most of the containers so I am guessing it is a moss issue and not a mold problem. Here's hoping anyway. I decided not to scrape the gunk at all because I figured if it is mold I couldn't possibly get everything effectively. I am going to add a light layer of sand tomorrow to hopefully hinder the growth of whatever it is. We shall see!

Everett, WA(Zone 8a)

I feel your pain! "Seedlings not dead, so avoid major surgery" sounds like a good plan.

Whatever it is, it will come back if conditions favor it. Covering it with sand should deny it some light. If you can keep it dryer also, that may make a difference.

Lately I've become obsessed with fast-draining seed mix. It lets the surface dry out faster!

Can you increase the ventilation, like add more slits or prop the lid open as Cathy4 suggested? Perhaps more holes in the sides of the tub? Let them sit in stronger sunlight?

Your experience made me go out to the porch, cut out the centers of my tub's lids, and replace them with plastic film with a dozen or 20 slits in it. Maybe all those Penstemon and delphiniums were just wiating for more light and less humidity ... c'mon, guys! SPROUT!

Corey

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 6b)

I've experienced a similar problem, almost looks like algae. We've had so much rain this month.. I just poured 2 inches of water from our rain gage from last night's and this mornings rainfall. I had planned to plant out my calif. poppies and Patty's plum poppy, blue flax and some larkspur today as I had the day free of any committments, appts. and there's no way I'll get it done today, so will try to switch things around and do it Friday. The blue flax and calf. poppies are almost ready to climb out the jugs. Gosh, I've seen landscaping crews planting in the drizzling ran before. I just don't want the plants to rot. I did cut some more drainage and made my air circulation holes larger. Even the ones that I've been babying along from 12/30, I'm beginning to see sprouts now in some of the jugs.

Richland, MI(Zone 5b)

I have been opening up the containers during the days we have lots of sun and it seems to be helping them dry out a bit and slow the moss growth.

St. Louis County, MO(Zone 5a)

great, I'm glad that is helping.

(Mary) Anchorage, AK(Zone 4b)

I have mine in my cold frame (covered in semi-clear plastic) where it gets really warm, and then they are in containers with lids. Do you think they are getting enough sun. Duh. The frame gets direct sun for several hours in the morning and afternoon and it gets over 90 unless I open the two small flaps on top. I heard somewhere that they don't get what they need if the sun is coming through plastic and such. Ideas? Oh, they haven't even sprouted yet so maybe it is just warmth they need at this point.

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