Everyone is busy choosing seeds for next spring’s garden and planting up seed trays to get a head start on the season. Starting seeds is great fun but also a lot of work, so it is very disappointing when things go wrong.
What is Damping Off:
Probably the biggest failure in seed starting comes from damping off disease. Damping off is a fungal disease that kills seedlings in just one day. You know your seedlings are succumbing to damping off when they look wilted, and you can see a dark rotted area at the base of the stem. It’s very important that you remove the affected seedlings right away and destroy them. Inspect your seedling trays daily and cut back on your watering. Also make sure your seedlings are getting enough light and air circulation. Prevention is the best attack against damping off.
Damping off is Caused by:
poor air circulation
overcrowding of plants
excess nitrogen ( from fertilizer )
How to Prevent Damping Off:
use sterilized potting mix
use new containers or sterilize used ones
thin overcrowded flats
water from below to prevent planting mix from getting too wet
do not fertilize until 3 true leaves appear on your seedlings
cover newly planted seedlings with a thin layer of finely sifted sphagnum peat moss as it has a mild fungicidal effect
Damping Off Control:
if you find damping off in one part of a large seed tray, transplant any remaining healthy seedlings into a clean tray with fresh sterilized mix.
using individual cell trays when planting can help to minimize damping off from spreading.
destroy infected seedlings and soil
How to Keep your Seedlings Healthy:
do not overwater
if plants are looking spindly and yellow they need more light.
do not over heat your seedlings as too much heat will weaken young plants
do not start your seedlings too early
harden off your seedlings before planting them into the garden
(some photos are from Pixabay)