Summer is in full swing – and so are our flourishing gardens. But where you planted your herbs and vegetables can make all the difference between a healthy harvest and a moldy mess.

Mold may not harm your petunias, but if you plan to consume your fresh herbs or vegetables, you may have a problem. It is important to check your container gardens for signs of mold growth. Many molds and mold spores can be detrimental to human health.

The growth of mold usually starts on the stems of plants near the soil, where it is dark and damp, and then travels to the leaves. It can look fuzzy, slimy – even crumbly. The color can vary tremendously – black, green, brown, or even white.

The most likely culprit for mold growth in container gardens is over-watering. People are so concerned with making sure their plants are getting enough water that they don’t consider the possibility that the plants are getting too much. More sun can help counter this problem. Another mistake is not having proper drainage at the bottom of your container. If there are no holes for the excess water to drain through, it collects and rots the organic material inside the pot.

If over-watering is not the problem, there are natural methods for fighting mold, like garlic or cinnamon. Check out some additional tips here. A last measure would be a chemical spray, although this should be avoided at all costs if you are planning to eat what you grow.

Container gardens are a wonderful option for gardeners. Be sure to keep yours mold free! And in order to be confident in the soil in which your garden is planted, choose a food-grade potting soil or consider a soil assessment from a reputable environmental testing service provider.