Are you wondering if those white hair-like growths are root hairs or microgreens mold? Are you in search of ways to get rid of them?
Microgreens thrive in moist and warm conditions, so does mold. So, every time you want to grow microgreens, you run the risk of attracting microgreens mold.
It is one of the most common problems faced by people when they try to grow microgreens. This is especially true in the case of beginners.
You can avoid these molds easily by providing proper care. However, molds are very resilient. They find their way to damage the crops even in the most cared-for conditions.
Mold growth is an indication that you should be concerned about the environment you are providing the microgreen.
These uninvited fungi can ruin your crop. To avoid this problem, you will have to prevent the formation of molds on your microgreens. So you can grow your own healthy, nutrient-rich food.
You may feel like tossing your microgreens tray out in the garbage. Instead of making a drastic decision, you can always give them a chance.
As you read through this article, you can understand what exactly causes these molds and figure out the remedies.
Table of Contents
What Causes Mold On Microgreens?
Numerous things can go wrong while growing microgreens that can lead to the formation of mold. If you find that there are molds on your microgreens, you need to examine what caused them.
Examine carefully the following possibilities that can lead to molding, so you can prepare for a solution.
1. The Environment Is Too Moist
Microgreens require a moist environment to grow to their fullest and retain a high nutrient density. However, a moist environment is a perfect place for habitation for several types of microbes.
If you grow your microgreens in a tray without bottom holes, it will lead to the accumulation of excess water. This will make the habitat too moist, and fungi can thrive in them.
If the soil is flooded in the tray, it will cause a stagnant environment without much energy exchange. Also, this will affect the aeration of the soil. This is an ideal condition for fungi and other microbes to thrive in.
2. Room Humidity
A high humidity level in the surrounding habitat makes microgreens susceptible to mold since they can thrive especially well in humid places. The higher the humidity, the more the chances of mold formation in your microgreen tray.
Hence, it is important to control the humidity of the room the tray is placed in. Even if you are watering properly and keeping the trays dry, the humidity in the air can cause molds. The dampness in the air can supply the required moisture for the mold to grow.
Therefore, you should check the room’s humidity levels if you find mold in your greens.
3. Poor Ventilation
It is very crucial for a plant’s health to have a circulation of fresh air. It helps in the regulation of the amount of air that can reach the root and other parts of the microgreens. It also regulates the temperature as well as humidity.
If the ventilation is poor in the area where the microgreens are grown, the chances of mold growth can be high. Poor ventilation increases the dampness level in the region, which will help fungi to thrive.
Hence, if you find mold growing on your microgreens, make sure to check if the plants have proper airflow.
4. Growing Medium Can Cause Molds
Microgreens can be grown in soil as well as water since they are hydroponic. Growing them in water can be generally easier and cleaner with lesser chances of attracting mold.
If you are growing them in soil, there are more chances of mold formation. Also, the amount of fertilizer added can also affect the formation of mold. If you add too much fertilizer, it can retain moisture for too long and can cause mold formation.
Suppose you are using other options such as jute growing mats or coconut coir. You will have to ensure you are providing special care for them to avoid mold risk.
5. Lack Of Direct Sunlight Can Cause Molds
Strong sunlight can damage your microgreens, and that is why most people keep their greens away from direct sunlight. However, microgreens require an optimal amount of sunlight to keep molds away from them.
Dark areas are an ideal environment for molds to grow in. Hence, they grow faster if there is a lack of direct sunlight. Also, the lack of direct sunlight can lead to cooler temperatures and more humidity.
These factors will, in turn, contribute to the acceleration of mold growth in your microgreens.
So, check the availability of sunlight where the tray is placed.
How To Differentiate Between Root Hairs And Microgreens Mold?
Root hairs or cilia are the natural structure of the root. If you are not aware of the intricacies of root hairs, you may confuse them with molds. They appear very similar to molds.
Root hairs are spider web-like formation that looks like mildew. These roots are located above the soil level, and it is a sign of a healthy microgreen. However, upon careful observation, you can differentiate the two.
Look out for the differences listed in this article to confirm if what you are worried about is harmful mold problems.
1. Does It Cover More Than One Microgreen Stem?
If the white web-like stuff covers a group of microgreens at once, it may most possibly be mold. If the web is growing from the stems and does not combine with another, it is root hair. You can dig out the microgreen before it spreads.
2. Does It Look Like Cotton?
Suppose the structure is more similar to a cotton ball than a stretched-out web. If the cotton ball is spread over numerous microgreen stems, it can mean that your tray is infected by fungi.
You can dig out the infected greens carefully without letting them spread to areas that are not infected.
3. What Is The State Of Growth Of Your Microgreen?
The microgreens are very young if they are only a day or two old. Then, what is emerging out of the seeds is mostly root hair. If the microgreens are fully mature when you spot the white stuff, it could be either root hairs or mold.
Also, if the white stuff is above the soil lining and it climbs up to the stem of matured microgreens, it is mold. If it meets the soil and runs down into the soil, it is root hair.
4. Are The Roots Turning Brown?
If the root and stem look unhealthy and not robust with the presence of the white stuff, it may be mold. It will be better to check if you are using a transparent container or a translucent tray.
However, even in opaque trays, you can dig out a plant or two to check. In the case of small plants, this method can be harmful.
Once you examine the root, if they look creamy colored or white, it means that the roots are decayed. Decaying roots are a sign of molding.
Additionally, look for the thickness of the root. If your microgreens are mature plants, the roots must be large and tangled. If they are bald and thin instead, it is mold.
If your microgreens are young plants, the roots should evenly stretch throughout the tray. This means they are healthy. If they are not and have bald spots and spindly, it is a fungal infection.
5. Do The Roots Mold Growth Smell Foul?
If the white stuff has an unpleasant smell, it could be because of the mold. Ensure to smell the microgreens well before deciding upon the results. If it has a pleasant smell of greens and mud, they are root hairs.
6. The Water Trick
You can figure out if the white web-like stuff is mold or root hairs by using a simple trick. It is known as the watering trick or water trick.
You will have to pour water from above over the microgreens gently, or you can sprinkle water using a spray bottle. If the fuzzy white stuff stays and is simply covered with water, it is mold. If it disappears as the water pours over it, they are root hairs.
How To Prevent Mold?
There are numerous ways to remove molds from microgreens. However, if you prevent the mold on microgreens, it can save you time and a whole lot of tension.
This article has some carefully selected ways that can help you with mold on microgreens. They are as follows.
1. Sanitize The Microgreen Seeds
Microgreen seeds can be contaminated when you buy them from the stores. This can cause infections that can harm your plants, such as mold infections.
You can prevent this by sanitizing the seeds before you plant them in the soil or any other medium. You can sanitize it by using hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Use this solution to pre-soak the seeds for an hour or two.
2. Ensure Optimum Seeding Rates
If the seed density is more, that is, if you plant too many seeds in a tray, the plants may not have space to breathe. The roots can mat and tangle up when they grow too close.
Thus, ensure the seed density is low and the seeds are free from seed hulls. You can weigh out the seeds to keep the seed density in check.
3. Use Only Good-Quality Seeds
The quality of the microgreen seeds can determine the nutrient richness and health of the plant. You need to pick good-quality seeds because some seeds have better mold resistance than others. Hence, it is vital to pick high-quality seeds to prevent mold on microgreens.
4. Take Care Of Drainage
The soil or any other growing medium should not be soggy and damp enough to cause mold on microgreens. The medium must have proper drainage. This can be ensured by mixing some gravel or marbles with the potting soil.
Providing good drainage can also enhance air circulation in the soil and improve root health.
5. Keep The Entire Process Clean
Ensuring the entire process is clean can not only prevent mold on microgreens but can also prevent a lot of other things. It is recommended to frequently disinfect the trays, grow racks, and harvest equipment.
You can use diluted hydrogen peroxide water to clean the trays and the harvest equipment. Also, other things related to growing microgreens can be cleaned using mild soap in water.
6. Optimize lighting Conditions
Sunlight is essential to the growth of any plant. An optimal level of sunlight will ensure a plant will grow to its fullest. However, microgreens can die under harsh sunlight.
Hence, it is vital to provide enough sunlight to prevent molds yet, not harm the plants in any way.
7. Apply Bottom Watering Methods
Watering ways can determine the moistness of the microgreens trays. This can ascertain the conditions the molds use to thrive. You can water the microgreens from the bottom since this can make sure there’s even coverage.
The water will get sucked up from the lower part of the tray to the upper soil. It is called water capillary action. This ensures the soil does not get soggy.
Applying this method will prevent the oversaturation of water that can cause molding. Also, it can prevent delicate microgreen plants from getting damaged if watered from above.
How To Remove Mold On Microgreens?
If your tray of microgreens is infected with mold, it is not recommended to consume them. However, if you can completely eliminate the fungus, you can consume them after cooking them thoroughly.
It is complicated to eliminate the molds since mold spores will be spread throughout the tray. So, if you can remove the mold spores completely, the chances of your microgreens getting infected again will be almost null.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide With Water And Vinegar
You can solve the mold-on-microgreens problem by using this popular method. You will have to add about three to five percent of food-grade hydrogen peroxide to a tray. This required hydrogen peroxide usually comes in a spray bottle.
You can add about 50 milliliters of hydrogen peroxide and 50 milliliters of white vinegar. Even if you do not add the exact amount, it can work just fine. However, you need to make sure that vinegar is in equal proportion with hydrogen peroxide.
You can top the mixture with a little water. The water is for dilution of the effects. This solution is very effective.
However, you will have to care about the proportions of vinegar along with hydrogen peroxide since too much of it can cause harm. This solution can remove mold on microgreens.
There is an alternate for vinegar; it is grapefruit extract. This can also be potent.
Exposure to sunlight can kill the molds in your microgreens. The UV light in the sun’s rays effectively kills molds because it can work as a disinfectant. Electromagnetic radiation can penetrate and kill organisms.
The wavelength of UV light can kill mold cells that are present on the microgreens. The more you keep them in the sun, the less time they get to breed since they reproduce in the dark.
When the sunlight falls on your microgreen trays and the mold, it can harm the nucleic acids of the fungi. This will be detrimental to the mold but good for the plant.
However, microgreens do not require too much sun. If you leave them in the harsh sun for too long, they may dry out. Thus, keep them in the natural sun during the early hours of the day to aid in their healthy growth.
3. Re-Pot The Microgreen Soon
Re-potting microgreen is necessary because if the space is not adequate, there will be nutrition deficiency. Also, grouping too many microgreens in one place can affect the drainage as well. Hence, do not delay re-potting the microgreens.
If you spot the first two sets of real leaves, you can re-pot the plants in new trays.
Effects Of Mold On Microgreens
Mold can stunt the growth of microgreens and prevent them from producing essential nutrients. In some cases, if the mold issues are more, the plants may die.
In damp conditions, the soil can become soggy with poor drainage. This can provide a suitable environment for numerous soil-borne fungi.
This fungal infection can compete with the microgreens for nutrients which leads to deficiencies in the greens. It can also provide a ground for bacteria and virus proliferation.
Also, it will cause damage to the medium the microgreens are grown in. If it is soil, the damping can cause trouble while reusing.
You may find only a small spot with microgreen mold, or the entire tray may be infected. Nonetheless, you must ensure that your microgreens are taken care of properly until the time of harvest.
However, if nothing solves the mold problems, you may have to throw it out and give a chance for a fresh new batch of microgreens!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.