2b87c808a2b7f83394bb6dbfb8897fa2
If you are reading this while feasting on a scrambled egg breakfast, you may want to turn the page now and come back to the article a little later in the day. Make that a lot later.
 
I received another call yesterday from a Costa Mesa gardener named Joe. He seemed a bit desperate. He wasn’t quite sure whether he should call a nursery, a hazmat team, a veterinarian or The Extraterrestrial Society.
 
In one of his garden beds this morning appeared a large, slimy blob that looked like -- how to put this gracefully? -- dog vomit. The blob was several inches across, pale yellow, and appeared to be growing. In other words, it was repulsive.
 
I tried to calm him down. He sounded like he had dead-bolted the front door and closed the blinds. I suspect there may have been weapons nearby. For the next few minutes I was able to talk him down.
 
slime_mold.jpg
 
Joe had stumbled across an organism called a slime mold. They’re hard to ignore. When one is found, gardeners tend to be both embarrassed and fearful at the same time. The first time you see one, you might think somebody spilled some sort of poisonous goop or the egg foo yung might have fallen out of the Chinese take-out bag. In Joe’s case, aliens surely had settled into his garden.
 
There are more than 700 species of slime mold in the world, but the one that Joe was describing is affectionately known as Dog Vomit Slime Mold – no kidding.

Slime molds are most often seen growing on top of mulch, in flower beds or in grass lawns, but can appear nearly anywhere. The patch may be just a few inches or as much as two feet across. When first noticed, the blob is yellow in color, soft and slowly expanding across the surface of whatever it is growing on; like a giant amoeba. Then, as the weather warms, the growth transforms itself into a tan colored, cushion-like mass about an inch thick and the consistency of a slice of bread. With further aging, the crust becomes more firm and small liquid, blood-colored droplets form on the surface. The transition from a mushy yellow blob to crusty brown slime can occur very quickly, usually in one to two days.

Slime molds are strange and primitive organisms. Interestingly, there are 13 separate sexes in a slime mold’s world and one slime mold can mate with any of the other 12 sexes. Slime molds have also caused all sorts of classification problems for scientists. When Carl Linnaeus first developed a classification system for all of the world’s life forms he considered there to be only two kinds of life - plant and animal.
 
slime_mold_2.jpg
 
But over the past 250 years things have expanded considerably. Eventually, a five-kingdom model of classification emerged, incorporating plants, animals, fungi, algae and bacteria. But now biologists are considering adding a sixth kingdom, which would include that slimy blob in Joe’s garden.
 
Slime molds are essentially harmless things, but admittedly are ugly. They aid in the breakdown of organic debris. Slime molds feed on bacteria, fungi and other dead organic matter. Chemical control of slime mold isn't necessary and eventually every gardener will interface with a slime mold or two. If they really bug you, consider simply raking over the developing mass before it develops any further. Better yet, as I instructed Joe, unlock the door and open the blinds. Just avoid this little patch of the garden for a couple days and the hideous little creeping blob will go away by itself.
 
Questions from Readers September 5.
Question:
 
 
Several emails came to me about last week’s article on the first discovery of Asian Citrus Psyllids in Orange County. Most wanted to know what to do, but several people thought they had located infestations on their backyard citrus, only to find that they were looking at whiteflies, scales or aphids. One person brought a ziplock bag full of houseflies to the nursery, certain that they were Asian Citrus Psyllids.
 
Ron Vanderhoff is the Nursery Manager at Roger’s Gardens, Corona del Mar.

Lynn, Costa Mesa

Answer:
As I mentioned in last week’s column, the most important thing a home gardener can do is to obey the quarantine on the movement of backyard citrus fruits, foliage and plants. Meanwhile, citrus plants that are sold in any Orange County garden center or nursery and citrus fruit sold at grocers and farmers markets will all be certified by the County Agricultural Commissioner as free of the pest. Tonight I am meeting with state and local agriculture officials in Irvine to learn more about this new pest and the citrus quarantine. I’ll keep you posted of any new developments.

Plant Care Reminders

Roquette Arugula
Edibles San Diego Seed Company

Arugula - Roquette (Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa) Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!
Brugmansia Monthly Plant Care
Perennials Steve Brigham

Brugmansia spp. (Angel Trumpet) - Monthly Plant Care Calendar

You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Hosta la Vista - Baby

28140 Sandie Parrott
Hosta Care
Everyone knows about Hosta, don’t they? Did you know some varieties grow in sun?

Carrot (Daucus carota var. sativus) -…

8084 Julie Bawden-Davis
Carrot Monthly Plant Care - photo by Burpee
You can have these monthly Plant Care Reminders sent directly to you each month!

Gardening Articles

Valley Oak
Natives Ron Vanderhoff

A Rare Tree and an Old, Long Lost Friend is Re-Found - Valley Oaks (Quercus lobata)

There are several rare plants in Orange County.
All About Bees Crossword Puzzle
Crossword Puzzles Garry Shirts

Puzzle #9 - All About Bees

Print this and take a few minutes and have some fun trying to figure this crossword puzzle out. Let us know if you have any suggestions for new puzzles. Be sure not to peek!

Organic Lawn Feeding Tips

23352
Hands with Organic Fertilizer
Putting Greens My husband loves to golf. He takes delight in maintaining brilliant swaths…

Puzzle #5 - Butterflies

4646
Butterfly Crossword Puzzle
Print this and take a few minutes and have some fun trying to figure this crossword…

A Poison Forest? Gardening under Eucalyptus

18886
Eucalyptus Forest
I live just outside a large Eucalyptus forest. As I look out the window, across my garden…

Plant Recommendations

Janet Wanerka
Plant Recommendations JANET WANERKA

Carnivorous Plants - Southern California

Janet Wanerka's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Carnivorous Plants for Southern California.
Asclepias 'Silky Gold'
Plant Recommendations Rhonda Hayes

Supporting Pollinators: Butterfly Gardening with Herbs - Minnesota

Rhonda Fleming Hayes' Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite Supporting Pollinators: Butterfly Gardening with Herbs.

California Natives - Southern California

4496 jim threadgill
Jim Threadgill
Jim Threadgill's Top Plant Recommendations: Favorite California Natives.

Shrubs - Minnesota

32725 Marcie Forsberg
Marcie Forsberg
 Marcie Forsberg's Top Plant Recommendation: Favorite Shrubs for Minnesota and…

Favorite Plants To Draw

5525 Tania Marien
Leaf Lily
Tania's Favorite Plants to Draw

Latest Articles

Peach Leaf Curl

Peach Leaf Curl - Information Hub

Peach leaf curl is a common problem found on leaves of Peaches and Nectarines (and their…
Avocado Information Hub

Avocado - Growing and Plant Care Information Hub

in Edibles
We're bringing relevant information about Avocados (Persea americana) to one fantastic…

Popular Articles

Using the Mulch for Home Gardeners

Home Gardener: Using All The Great Features on the Mulch

You Can Use The Great Features on the Mulch For Free!
Baseball Field Maintenance

Baseball Field Maintenance - A General Guide for Fields of All Levels

in Lawn
More great baseball field resources can be found here (including a pdf version of this…
Queen Palm Care & Use

The Queen Palm (Syagrus romanzoffiana) Care & Use

in Trees
Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is a family owned and operated business established in 1977
Microgreens

What are Microgreens and How to Grow Them

in Edibles
Microgreens are tiny leafed vegetables that are grown from seed and require very little…

User Guides (Slide)

Popular Recommendations (Slide)