The Q&A Archives: Moldy Mulch

Question: I recently purchased cocoa bean mulch to use in my vegetable garden. I noticed that one of the bags of mulch seemed a little clumpy when I put it down, but didn't think much of it. With the recent muggy, warm, rainy weather, however, some of the areas (I think, although can't be sure, that they are the "clumpy mulch" areas) seem to be developing a layer of mold. How do I get rid of it and will it have any effect on my vegetables (it is not presently in contact with any of the plants)? Thanks.

Answer: Organic mulches such as cocoa beans or shredded bark naturally decay and feed the soil as they break down, and mold is occasionally a part of this process. Moisture encourages this, as you have noticed. It should not harm your plants. You do not need to worry about it specifically, but to slow it down you could rake out and "fluff up" the affected areas to try to dry the mulch out more quickly.

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