I recently moved to Bombay (Mumbai, India) and the weather is forgiving her so I thought why not! I bought all the organic stuff I could find and made a potting mix- manure + red soil, vermicompost, garden (red) soil, coco peat and all.

I looked at doing kitchen scraps first- garlic cloves, tomato slices, ripe chili seeds, ginger, onions tops, cilantro with roots.

This was started on Tuesday, they have been watered to the point that they are just wet. Thursday I woke up to white mold on them, after a google search, I ended up scrapping if off and sprinkling some cinnamon powder on them. Today, Sunday I woke up again to mold, this is sad. I tried to look at the starters itself; tomato slices are all moldy too and so are the garlic cloves.

This is my first time trying to take care of anything besides me, and I'm too worried to mess it up.

Can someone please tell me if this is normal?

Thank you.

[Onion with Roots

[Moldy Tomato

  • You appear to be saying you have laid bits of vegetables on the soil surface (tomato slices, for instance), is that what you've done? It would be useful if you could add a photo or two so we can see precisely what you have done....
    – Bamboo
    Mar 18, 2018 at 12:02
  • Buy seeds, and plant those. Mar 18, 2018 at 16:23

2 Answers 2


Are you trying to make compost or are you trying to grow plants?

If compost, you're off to a fine start. In a few months you will have lovely finished compost that can be an excellent part of the soil mix in which you will grow seeds. Mold can be part of the decomposition process. Meanwhile, keep piling on the things you would like to have rot.

If you are trying to grow plants, they do better in soil that isn't full of rotting plant material. They may cope in a compost pile but it isn't a welcoming environment. For growing plants, mix up the vermicompost, anything else that has finished decomposing, and some soil (I'm not familiar with "red soil" so can't comment on that). Add in some peat if you like. But just plain old soil is a great place to start, as long as it's not heavy heavy clay.

If your intent was for the onion to rot, it seems to have a mind of its own, and the will to grow instead. Put it in some nice soil and it probably will. Or bury it under lots more undecomposed organic waste and it probably won't, but will become compost instead.


Use kitchen scraps to make compost. The white mould that you’re seeing is a part of the process of food decomposing.

Use seeds to grow plants (not kitchen scraps).

While you may have some success using parts of plants (kitchen scraps) to grow new plants, this is a time consuming process, requires concentrated detailed care and often takes longer for the plant to yield food.

I recommend that you grow all your food crop plants from seed.

You can either purchase packet seed (online or from a store) OR collect and carefully prepare seed yourself.

To collect and carefully prepare seed, I’ve included a few notes as a guide...

For plants that include seed in the fruit we eat ( tomato, capsicum/pepper, eggplant, cucumber, pumpkin/squash):

  • scrape out the seed still attached to some of the flesh of the fruit;
  • place the seed and attached flesh onto a metal tray;
  • place the tray in the sun for a few days to dry the seed;
  • do not allow the seed to come into contact with moisture;
  • place trays indoors at night to avoid nighttime condensation and theft by animals;
  • once dry, remove the seed from the flesh.

For plants that grow from a bulbous root (onion, beetroot, turnip, carrot, swede):

  • wait for the growing parent plant to flower and produce seeds;
  • (it is preferable to) allow the seeds to dry while still attached to the plant;
  • once dry, collect seed heads and place in a bag made of light materials.
  • shake or massage seeds from pods so seeds fall into the base of the bag;

For all options, place the dried and sorted seed in separate containers and store in a cool dry place or if the growing season is appropriate, plant in soil.

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