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Thread: Skeptical about Mold

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Blog Entries

    Skeptical about Mold

    Here are growing instructions for milkweed and similar for many seeds needing moist stratification. This sounds like the perfect setup for mold production--how do you prevent that ?

    Seed requires at least 8 weeks of cold, moist stratification, sow out doors in winter or to start indoors, place seeds in between layers of moist (not wet) paper towels. Place paper towels (with seeds) in plastic baggie. Place in refrigerator for 6-8 weeks. Remove from refrigerator to location at 60-65F. Seed should begin germinating in 10-20 days. As seed forms a root, pot up into small containers.
    "If I keep a green bough in my heart, a singing bird will come"

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Zone 9a - Gulf Coast

    Have you tried a mixture of peat and vermiculite with perhaps a little perlite?

    When I mix my own soiless mix, it tends to be light and fluffy, but I am careful not to give it too much water.

    Damping off is sometimes caused by too much cold. There is an old post with information on damping off, but I haven't look to see if the links still work.

    If I remember correctly, the seeds do not stay viable for very long, so your best bet is to sow them when they are fresh.

    I'll look to see if I have any other notes on them.
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Surrey, BC, Canada

    Mold during stratification

    Cathy--I think your concern was that mold would grow in the baggie of seeds/soil during the cold stratification?

    In fact, I've had a real good crop of mold growing on my arbutus menziesii seeds, due to the fact that they are the result of a bagful of the berries and water rotting away in the furnace room for a month or two. They have not gotten to the point of the cold strat yet, but like tomatoes need to rot off the fruit to allow the seeds to be separated and planted. Lots of mold in that bag, as I say.

    My experience is that mold is not harmful to healthy, dormant seeds, like in the cold stratifying baggies or even in the garden. Seeds are adapted to this all the time, whenever there is moisture there is liable to be various microbes growing around them.

    The fun part comes when the seed actually sprouts, then I would like to see optimum temps and water/air around the seed to allow it to compete with the mold and everything else. Actually, I innoculate most of my seedlings with a beneficial fungus called mycorrhizae...which kind of reminds us that only a tiny % of all the bugs surrounding us are the enemy. There will almost never be a really sterile environment, unless we germinate in test tubes (orchids?).

    I've heard that the germination guru Norm Deno has established that intact healthy seed does not get invaded by molds, the seed coats should be prepared for this. Rotting seeds are often the result of otherwise non viable seed that eventually rots when moisture is added. So, in summary, I don't get worried if I see a bit of mold in the baggie.

    Another helpful thing is peat moss, which often helps to keep the bad fungi in check when used in the stratification/germination mix.

    Hope this is helpful,

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