weird grey soil...please help!

Nicky2122July 12, 2014

I was out working in the garden today. I have one very neglected bed that I haven't had the energy to tackle and I finally did today. Well, I started pulling out weeds and as I did I noticed a weird grey soil. It was in large patches. It was stuck to the roots too. I had onions in the bed and I pulled them all out because I had no idea what the grey stuff was. I also noticed a few mushrooms growing in between the large weeds/marigolds/onions. Can someone please help me out on this? I am not sure if I should post here or in the veggie garden section. Also, the only thing I can think of is that there were some feral cats that used to hang out around my house and I would see one in that bed hiding sometimes, so it made me wonder if possibly the cat had used it as a restroom and that was the evidence?

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I think the two biggest suspects would be salt, if you've used steer manure or composted steer manure without mixing it in well, and perhaps fungus, indicated by you seeing spore bodies growing up top and "white" stuff on the roots.

Salt does mechanical damage and the fungus probably does no damage.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:43AM
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Thanks so much for sharing! I will look into both of those!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 1:46AM
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Was that soil quite moist or dry? Fungi usually do not do well in dry soils.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 6:19AM
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It was dry actually. It was in a raised bed that has good drainage.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 3:16PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

Is the white 'stuff' something new? Is it widespread or just in one area? Is the white stuff plant or mineral?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:07PM
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It is new. It is in one of my raised garden beds but not in the others. It is in sort of clumps and not evenly throughout the entire bed. It looks a little like sand.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 7:15PM
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I think I know ... it's what happens to cat and dog poop after the soil fungi get through with it. Cat buried poop, and it decayed.

Don't worry about odd things you see in soil - they are usually harmless.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:11PM
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Thanks to everyone trying to help me out! So if it is a fungus will it cause any harm or health concerns with the vegetables that are in that garden bed?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2014 at 8:45PM
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toxcrusadr Clay Soil(Zone 6a - MO)

Very doubtful. Fungi are actually an important part of the soil ecosystem and perform many necessary functions. You just don't normally see them.

If it's cat poop - and I have some doubts, manure should really just turn into dark brown to black organic matter - it should be safe to grow in after a few months from the last 'deposit'. Unless you have pregnant females in the household, in which case it would be good to bone up on toxoplasmosis.

I would just turn over this bed and mix everything well, add some compost while you're at it, and plant away.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 11:29AM
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Well, I have an update but I don't know what to make of it. I turned over the soil as everyone suggested and planted some new seeds. It's been about two weeks and when I pulled this weekend I could see mushrooms growing out of the clumps of grey stuff. So everyone who said fungus seems to be correct. Now my question is, is this dangerous? Do I need to do anything about this? I pulled out the mushrooms as I pulled weeds. I hope that was okay.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 1:00PM
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Hey! I just came over here to post about this at the suggestion of a poster on the Hot Peppers board!

Its not cat poop, it's seems to be a crazy overgrowth of mycelium or some kind of fungus. I've included my pic. It strangled 6 of my pepper plants- they acted like they couldn't uptake nutrients, dying a slow death of yellowing and wilting before all of the peppers (regardless of size,) ripened and then the plant died.

I've included a pic of it in my garden. As I wrote in my post on Hot Peppers, I'm wondering if I should replace that section of mix, "dilute" it by adding more of something else or if I simply need to wait it out (in case it is just breaking something down- I wonder if something not completely composted was in the mix the plants originally came in since it was a 6 pack of starter plants.)

It's prime real estate for pepper growing in my garden (full sun,) so I do want to use that section as soon as I safely can.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 2:59PM
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Wow! I'm glad I'm not alone in this! Do you have a link to your other board post? If you get any more info there please share it with me! :)

It's funny because I have peppers on the other side of this bed. It hasn't directly affected them yet. There were onions where the grey stuff is but the onions seem to be missing since the grey stuff showed up!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 3:54PM
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I'm doing some reading about using Hydrogen Peroxide to control soil fungus but I'm still in the research stage... I don't want to kill all the good I've tried to put in the soil over the years, just control the overgrowth.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 7:32PM
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As with many other things there will be good fungi and bad fungi, disease causing, and it can be very difficult to tell the difference. Mushrooms are one of the fungi and they do send out "roots", mycelium, that looks like a whiteish film in the soil. For the most these mycelium are not harmful.
The picture VedaBeeps posted looks like what is called a slime mold, a distant relative of fungi. Pouring Hydrogen Peroxide around the garden is not a very good idea.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 7:02AM
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for vegetables, virtually all fungi are beneficial. In fact, for most vegetables they are very beneficial. People go out of their way to bury wood in their garden (hugelkultur) precisely to have fungi in there.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 10:56AM
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tropical_thought(San Francisco)

Hydrogen Peroxide causes cancer. Look online stuff about people who used hair dye and hair dressing getting way more cancer then the general population. Google hair dye and cancer together.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:06AM
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kimmsr, I appreciate the response but I have looked and thousands of pictures of slime mold and not one of them looks like this. Also, none of the descriptions really match. I called my local nursery and asked them if it could be it and the guy said "Who told you that?" Apparently we lack the humidity that slime mold needs. Being in the desert, in a drought, and watering judiciously, slime mold would be highly unlikely. What we're seeing is dry and powdery and not bubbly looking.

There are many of valid applications for hydrogen peroxide in the garden and I can assure you no one here is randomly "pouring hydrogen peroxide around the garden" so there is no need to be melodramatic. :)

BTW, isn't there a way of flagging off topic posts for removal on this board? I'm not too familiar with it yet.

This post was edited by VedaBeeps on Thu, Jul 31, 14 at 11:35

    Bookmark   July 31, 2014 at 11:33AM
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