The Q&A Archives: Seed Mold

Question: I am starting seeds for the first time. I am having problems with mold on my peat pellets. I know this will kill the seedlings. Can peat pellets (jiffy7) be sterilized and is there any other way to stop the mold growth?

Answer: Peat itself is fairly sterile or clean so be careful the pellets are stored in a clean spot away from dust and that your other seed starting equipment is clean. You can wash your tools, soil mixing pans and trays and so on in water with household bleach added to keep your work area clean. Usually mold forms on peat pellets as a result of them being kept too wet and/or too cold or in poor air circulation. Sometimes the mold (if it is more like an algae) does not hurt the seedlings although it can look unsightly. If your seedlings are damping off, try to increase the air circulation and make sure you are thinning the plants promptly so they are not too crowded. Also make sure they are receiving plenty of light and avoid wetting the foliage when you water. Finally, do not allow the pots to sit in standing water once they are moist; they only need to be moist, not soaking sopping dripping wet.

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