Thursday, September 1, 2011

Icky Neon Green Mushrooms in my Tomato Plants

Well, after my salsa post of May, I harvested another batch of cherry tomatoes. This is the tomato plant that won't give up--it's already on the fourth or fifth generation, having had one or two generations of tomatoes from when it was in the Aerogarden, and another two or three when I transplanted it to a flower pot on my kitchen windowsill. The tomato flowers are already out for the sixth generation of harvest.

But lately I noticed a bit of a revolting development in the houseplant soil.

Thanks to the Internet (where would I be without you?) I found out what this was. It's a fungus called Leucocoprinus birnbaumii. It tends to invade houseplants in the summer months when the air is warm, moist, and humid (we've had a LOT of rain in the New York area lately). The spores will travel through the air or hitchhike a ride on clothing. I'm guessing these guys got started through a crack I had in my kitchen window. 

The good news is, the mushrooms are not particularly dangerous (unless you eat them, which I have no intention of doing). There are a couple ways to get rid of them. The first and more important thing is to cut off the caps as quickly as possible. Without doing this, the spores can get into your air and get into other houseplants. 

Other remedies range from replacing the soil to applying fungicide to the soil, all of which have varying degrees of effectiveness. 

One thing I definitely need to do is change the conditions to be less humid and wet. Luckily for me, the only other plants that were near this one were cacti and succulents, which will be fine without water and humidity for a long time. My main houseplants are in the other room, and I think I caught these just in time before the spores went all over the place. 

Anyway, I decided that it's not worth it to try to salvage the tomato plant, so it's time to say good bye. Amazingly, I'd started this plant almost exactly a year ago, and it easily has been the most successful of all my Aerogarden tomato experiments. 

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