Now that I have once again purchased too many seeds, I’m getting set up to start sowing. Lights, soil, action! Usually the only danger my seedlings face is an overly curious cat. However there is one growing challenge that has found it’s way into my seed set-up and that is damping off disease.
Damping off is a fungal disease of young seedlings. It’s actually caused by a number of different fungi and other pathogens that are present in virtually all soils. It spreads quickly and your entire tray of seedlings can be wiped out shortly after the first one falls. Usually within a couple of days.
Damping off can even affect seeds before they emerge, causing them to rot and never germinate at all, leaving us to wonder what we did wrong.
The best thing to do is to avoid damping off, but that’s easier said than done. To avoid having it affect your pampered seedlings:
Conventional wisdom often tells us to use a sterile potting mix and sterilized containers, but I have to own that I’m am incredibly lazy about sterilizing and have not noticed it being a problem. In fact, there are several potting soil companies that are now including mycorrhizal fungi and microbes that would be destroyed if we baked our soil to sterilize it. Like people, plants need assistance from the “good” fungus and bacteria that are naturally occurring in the garden.
What to Do if Damping Off Happens?
The best thing to do is to remove the tray with the damping off victims and make sure the remaining seed trays get a breeze and less water. Then treat them with one of the damping off prevention tricks below.
Want to Know More of the Nitty Gritty?