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Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Posted by moonwolf 6 (My Page) on
Thu, Mar 25, 10 at 11:45

Hi everyone,

While checking my heated seed starter greenhouse, I noticed some cobweb or downy white like masses on top of the soil which I have my seeds in. It was only on the cup and saucer seeds yesterday but now it's on the tray where the delphinium seeds are. I sprinkled cayenne pepper and cinnamon for bugs and fungus. I'm thinking it may be lack of ventilation but the instructions say to keep the vents closed until the seeds sprout. I opened the vents up to let some air in. Should I just take the top off to let it air out?

Brad AKA Moonwolf


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

You have damp off--a type of mold-- and it must be treated immediately. It will kill seeds and seedlings. Sprinkle the entire surface of the soil with cinnamon. You must have made the soil too wet. Remove the humidity lids and get a fan on them so you dry out the soil a bit. Leave them alone for a few days or a week. Then you can spritz the seeds that are not up a couple of times a day Use a spray bottle and just enough of a spray to get the seeds damp.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Thank you, oilpainter!

I think I did make the soil too wet. I did put cinnamon on the soil yesterday and today I took the top off and have a fan going in the room. The air's not directly on the soil. Is it still okay? I'll leave the top off for a week.

Brad AKA Moonwolf


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Hm. I've never heard of cinnamon or pepper as remedies for this. What do they do? Simply absorb moisture? Or do they have othe properties that help?

Kim


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Moonwolf:
As long as the fan is somewhat near the planting area. You want to dry the soil a bit and improve the air circulation around there.

Kim:
Cinnamon has properties that kill the damp off spores. Chamomile tea does too. The pepper was in case there were bugs.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 26, 10 at 12:14

I suspect that white stuff is a mold that commonly grows on damp growing medium and will not cause damping off. The indications are stems that fall over and the plant quickly dies, not a fungus on top of the soil. There are apparently many causes of damping off, primarily when the infection is spread by not disinfecting tools and planters, anything that comes in contact with the soil in which seedlings may grow. Scroll about half-way down the page to see what an infected seedling looks like.

The cinnamon won't hurt anything, nor will the pepper, but when the seedlings are kept less wet and are put under strong lights, the mold usually dissipates. The fan will help, too.

But in all cases, less water for young seedlings is better than more. :-) Think of a wet sponge that's been squeezed hard so that it's just damp -- that's the ideal soil moisture for seedlings and seeds you want to germinate.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

anney:

White stuff that shows on wet soil is mold. The purpose of mold is to break down vegetation and all molds are harmful to seeds and seedlings.

There are several different molds that cause damping off and ANY mold on top of containers that have seedlings or seeds will kill them both. To wait until the seedlings fall over waiting too long because it is too late to do anything. Mold = damping off not matter how you slice it

White on the soils can be fertilizer residue ir something in the mix, that is not harmful but when it shows as the OP said it did it is mold that will cause damping off. You are right lowering the moisture content and adding heat will help but cinnamon kills the spores and is an easy thing to do to save your seedlings


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 26, 10 at 13:12

ANY mold on top of containers that have seedlings or seeds will kill them both.

My only disagreement with you is that damping off is indicated by a mold growing on top of the soil. That has not been the case with thousands and thousands of growers for the common mold that appears on wet growing medium, and it certainly does not cause damping off. Mold on top of the growing medium is not given as a symptom of damping off. Check it out yourself, and post a link if you find anything.

But that common mold bothers people, so they come to forums asking what to do, and airing out the soil primarily will cause it to dissipate. If you leave it where it is, continuing to keep the soil wet (when people don't deal with it), maybe eventually it will overtake a seedling and smother it, but people usually don't ignore molds. I haven't ever experienced that mold moving from the soil to a plant. I just make sure to keep the soil dryer than it was if mold occurs, it disappears, and everything is fine. I've never had seeds damp off, and I've been gardening for 50 years.

Just to repeat, damping off does not appear with obvious external soil mold and the seedling will suddenly topple over and die, baffling the grower because there haven't been any signs of an unhealthy plant or soil. It can happen very early in a seedling's life or later.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Annie I refuse to argue with you. I have been gardening for almost as long as you and I know what I know. If you disagree fine, but Lord help those who listen to you. That mold will spread before the containers dry out enough to stop it and all seeds and seedlings will be dead


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Fri, Mar 26, 10 at 14:20

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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Just my opinion

The mold itself will not kill your seedlings, but if mold is growing (and thriving because it is spreading) it would also be the perfect conditions for dampening-off to thrive in. I think the two are closely related in that their outcomes are less than favorable but I do not think they are one in the same.

Just my 2 cents.

Keriann~


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Yes Keriann--I agree.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

Anney is 100% correct. Don't pay attention to the "Doomsday Oilpainter" comments. Oilpainter couldn't be more wrong if she tried. Anney could not be more accurate in her post if she tried. Dampening off is COMPLETELY preventable if steps are taken as soon as symptoms start. As the owner of two nurseries, I have PLENTY of experience and DO consider myself an expert. Thanks for the great post Anney.


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

So, aside from determining whose expertise should be held in higher regard, what can I take away from this thread? If you DO have cobweb-like stuff growing on top of soil, improve air circulation and reduce moisture. If you want to take extra precautions and you've got some cinnamon in your spice rack, go ahead and sprinkle a little on, it won't hurt. Is that about the gist of it?


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RE: Cobwebs On Top Of Soil?

What you can take away is If you DO have cobweb-like stuff growing on top of soil, improve air circulation and reduce moisture.

The cobweb mold is not the same thing as damp-off fungi. While both should be and can be easily avoided and while the effects may end up being the same - death of the plant - they have different causal agents.

As to cinnamon - there is no scientific proof it helps and there are studies that show it does not. But there are anecdotal claims that it 'may'. So it falls into the can't hurt class of treatments. IMO if it helps it is a result of the surface drying caused by the cinnamon absorbing the surface soil moisture. The same thing can be accomplished with vermiculite, perlite, sand, and even talcum powder. Or you can just not over-water to begin with. :)

Dave


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