What is this?

Asked March 16, 2019, 4:46 PM EDT

Hello, These are getting more and more of my garden soil, they did not stop by cold winter we had in MD Zip 20184. In summer they are green but as you can see in attached pictures they are now kind of gray color. Please let me know: 1- What are these? 2- Are they bad for my vegetable garden? 3- How to get rid of them? Thanks.

Montgomery County Maryland weeds moss vegetable garden native plant care

5 Responses

Looks like a type of moss. Moss is native and not bad. You can scrape it off in your vegetable garden, but elsewhere you can leave it as a groundcover if you want. Mosses have been having a very good year because of all the rain last year. They can be very pretty and some people have entire moss gardens!

Mosses like 5 conditions: acid soil (low pH), lots of moisture (though they can stand dry conditions, too), shade (though can handle some sun), compacted soil (or average soil), and low fertility.

Be sure to get a soil test of your vegetable garden if you have not done so for 2-3 years. All that moss may mean the pH is way too low and fertility is low, too.

Now is a good time to get a soil test, so you can follow the recommendations before you plant. Search 'soil testing' on our website. We have a video about how to collect a soil sample, and info on how to send it in, plus a list of soil test labs where you can send it.


Soil test show PH=7.2, can these be something else? I need to know if these are not good for vegetable -like Parsley- growth.

This looks like a type of moss and/or algae growth. The pH is fine for growing vegetables. In general moss/algae likes shady, wet conditions. This area does not sound like it has good growing conditions for vegetables. Ideally, your garden should be on level ground in a spot that gets at least 6 hours of full sun a day or more. Is it possible to prune the trees and shrubs in the area to let more light in?

At this point, you can incorporate the moss /algae into the existing soil and add some compost to help with drainage. You can grow some vegetables that tolerate shade. Parsley will grow in partial shade. Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, arugula and spinach can tolerate the most shade. Carrots, beets, Swiss chard, kale, and mustard greens will produce if they receive about 5-6 hours of sunlight.

Another alternative is creating raised beds in a sunny location with good drainage
or gardening in containers. Their portability allows you to move them to the sunniest area of your yard. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/container-gardening


Thanks for all the good advise but my only question/concern for now is if this Algae -or whatever it is- interfere/harm the vegetable?

Hi- apologies for that. It is safe to grow and eat vegetable crops in the affected area.