mulch fungus (photos)

msjay2u(7)June 2, 2012

I had some trees cut down last spring and I asked the guy to leave the wood chippings. It was a huge pile as it represented 3 trees. The next couple of days the mound started smoking so I figured that it was heating up. In fact I was a bit afraid of it combusting. LOL.

The tree guy told me not to use it because he said it will kill my plants. I asked about it on here and was told wait a couple of weeks and it should be fine. That's what I did. I used all of the chippings as mulch topped by 9 more yards of purchased mulch. I noticed that my plants did not grow like they usually do and my weeping cherry tree that I had just planted died.

Fast forward to this year. Planting my annuals and when I was going through the layers of mulch I was a little surprised to see this

I thought it was gnat webs so I mixed the mulch up, planted what I was planting, sprayed bug spray and called it a day.

My plants are growing EXTREMELY slow, and some have died.

Since then I noticed this on the ground

It appears one day and is gone the next. Now this morning I noticed this on a tree

What the heck is this mess and what should I do about it?

I read on the Internet to sprinkle some baking soda on it. I have not tried that yet

Thank you

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Looks like slime molds to me. I don't know much about them. I've seen the white stuff and the yellow stuff. My favorite was the dog vomit slime mold I've found on the lawn from time to time. It's amazing how much it looks just like dog vomit.

I haven't seen any problems associated with the molds I've seen in my rather dry climate. Your milage may vary.

to sense

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 12:06PM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

They are nice. Don't hurt them. They will go away without any bother. Baking soda will add sodium (salt) to your soil and be bad for your garden. Look at the box of baking soda arm and hammer, it says don't take if you are on a sodium restricted diet.

Here is a link that might be useful: My fungus like yours

    Bookmark   June 2, 2012 at 11:08PM
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It's too bad you didn't get advice to let the piled-up fresh wood chips to sit a bit longer. Hot mulch is a sign that it is decomposing rapidly. In a pile, the hot, humid conditions would help it decompose the fastest.

If that were my garden beds, I would consider raking the wood chips off, laying down some good commercial compost, and then laying the wood chips on top of that.

And those look like slime molds. They are alarming looking, but seem to be harmless. Even in my dry climate, they appear on my garden beds where I have applied home-made compost. I haven't seen any evidence that they are a risk to my plants.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 12:10AM
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Fungus is not necessarily a bad thing and seeing some does not indicate the presence of Fungus Gnats or any other insect pest, although they may also be present. Plants need fungi as well as bacteria to live just as you do.
Slime molds can be washed away, if necessary, but like the fungi you found they are there to aid in digesting your woody mulch and are only disgusting looking and not harmful.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2012 at 7:12AM
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diane_nj 6b/7a

The first picture is normal, it is part of the decomposing process for the mulch, I get it all of the time. No insecticides needed.

I also get the occasional mushroom and the slime mold. I just leave them be, they tend to go away after a few days. Just nature in progress.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 9:53AM
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Nevermore44 - 6a

the 'dog barf fungus' is amazing. Sometimes you get different colors then just the yellow. Below are some timelapse videos. It interesting since you can see in you last photo of it on your tree, that it "climbed/grew" up the trunk from the mulch.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 10:31AM
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joepyeweed(5b IL)

They slime molds that you pictured are not harmful, just a sign that the wood is decaying. I get them in my mulch on occasion too. I do nothing and they go away.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 12:11PM
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ditto, this stuff helps break down the wood faster.
Just move it away from touching your plants.
Also maybe add a more nitrogen fertilizer to your plants. They might be growing slow because of N deficiency.
I planted in hugelkultur beds with heavy wood chip & pine needle mulch. Plants doing excellent. Did need to add extra fertilizer though.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2012 at 11:32PM
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thank you everyone I have left it alone. I am glad I am not the only one who thought that looked like dog vomit. LOL The first time I saw it I thought a deer came in and vomited all over my flower bed. silly me.

I will fertilize. and if it is decomposing I fertilize then the soil should be really rich next year!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 7:44AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

I found something that will get rid of mushrooms if they are harmful ones, and you are worried your dog will eat them. It happened to my dog. He ate these and almost died.
Physan 20 is the name you can get in ebay or amazon.

Here is a link that might be useful: I took a photo before he took a bite

    Bookmark   June 11, 2012 at 10:41AM
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I have this fungus in all of my landscape beds, and I have lots. The guy at the nursery said it is because the mulch was not aged enough. Every time I water or it rains I get more. Will it ever go away,ever?? Also if you spray water on it, a big cloud of red dust flies up. Is this harmful? I do not like it. Anyone have experience with this?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 7:31PM
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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

I love these slime mold "freak outs." Admittedly they look nasty but as has been stated do little if no harm. Just doing their environmental job. However, perhaps we now have a new moniker for "dog vomit" - for those in rural or semi-rural areas, "deer vomit." Never seen deer vomit, but sounds reasonable...

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:25PM
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lindaw, your nursery guy knows not what he is talking about. You will seldom see mushrooms, molds, or the slime molds appear until the mulch has been down for some time since it takes time for the fungi to develop and grow.
The "cloud" you see fly up when you water is spores of that fungi that you are scattering around to introduce new colonies somewhere.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 6:05AM
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kimmsr, is the cloud of spores a health issue?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 8:06AM
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It will go away on it's own or you can rake to break it up.

Last year our parents had it midsummer after we hauled in mulch to spread on their gardens in April. Admittedly the dog vomit fungus is disgusting, but nothing a little bit or raking didn't cure. No plants were bothered by it and the garden looks better than ever now that it's composted a bit further.

Grandpa liked how we gathered & spread free coffee grounds from the nearby coffee shop so much that he's been regularly going there now to get his own bucket or 2 full for garden mulching. It blends in well with the wood and helps conserve moisture. They're located in a drier part of our state with less than 20 inches of rain a year and almost none in the summer months. With the community well as their water source they do not water other than a few containers, so mulching over the past several years has made a big difference in their gardens in terms of growth & blooming. They think we snuck something else in, but it was only the mulch from the wood chippers and coffee grounds along with some kitchen waste while we're there.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 8:24PM
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Why does everybody have to pick on fungus? If your flowers were that color they'd be beautiful. I think your deer vomit is pretty! I may grow some myself lol. It's best not to breath mushrooms spores though. Some are worse than others but to be same I try not to stick my face in any cloud of spores. Hit some with my mower yesterday and was sneezing all night.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2012 at 3:54PM
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The role of fungi in ecosystems is underappreciated. I think they have a bad reputation that is undeserved. It's somewhat understandable: mold and mildew in the house is obviously not a good thing, and of course there are toxic mushrooms.

But it's kind of like saying there are bacteria that can cause disease, so we should worry about bacteria in the garden. Which is ludicrous since there are like 100 million bacteria in a half teaspoon of soil, and if they weren't there, nothing would grow. The same goes for fungi, actually.

There's just a lot more education that needs to happen in relation to fungi, I guess.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2012 at 1:01PM
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