Damping-off – or sudden seedling death due to some variety of fungal problems – attacked my seeds when I first tried to grow them in 2004. And even with some how-to advice, here I am again, as you can see!
We have the seeds on heat pads in the heated garage. After Jim lost all his broccoli seedlings, which we though was due to soil temperature, I used a soil thermometer to take soil temp every morning. Then I sprayed my seedlings with warm water mist. Oops.
Last night, I attended a class at the Miami (Kansas) County Extension Office on seed starting. I learned a great many things that I didn’t know before, the main one being NOT to mist the seedlings after they sprout. That makes them too wet and can cause damping-off.
Among the bits I didn’t know before was to water the seedlings with a narrow stream of water to prevent overwatering. Lenora (my Master Gardener friend) suggested using chamomile tea for watering, and I found the same advice online.
The online gurus also suggested that I “bake” the seed starting mix in the oven or microwave before using it to make sure the mixture is sterile. Last night, we learned NOT to do that because of the smell. Learning from someone who has years of trial and error experience, along with years of success, is such a plus!
I also learned how to figure out if a packet of seeds is still viable. Now this may be old hat to some folks, but for me, it’s all new information. This is nothing like going to your local big box store and buying a couple flats of annuals and a tomato plant or two!
In a way, it’s easier to know nothing. Let’s me relax and be as wide-eyed and “sponge-like” as I can be. Meanwhile, I’ll be starting seeds all over again.