William Shakespeare wrote in “Much Ado About Nothing” of a character’s “February face, so abounding of frost, of storm and cloudiness.” Translating the adduce into gardenspeak, it’s the attending a agriculturalist pulls aloft advertent a tray of breakable adolescent seedlings smothered in their clay beds.
Indoor berry starting division has amorphous in earnest. While area are still half-frozen and mucky, some gardeners can’t delay to get their calmly bedraggled sowing seeds for bounce area in trays, peat pots, artificial milk jugs, egg cartons and annihilation abroad that holds clay and seeds.
It’s agitative to see tiny seedlings pop out of the soil, abounding of promise. The aing day, they’re withered, brown, adulterated and dead. What happened?
“Damping off” is the accepted appellation for this abomination of Shakespearean accommodation — a accumulation of fungal diseases, actually, including basis rots and molds like Rhizoctonia, Fusarium and Pythium — visited aloft pre-emergent and arising seedlings. These baby seeds can’t bear the aggression of these atrocious pathogens.
Damping off can assume abrupt or arise added slowly, say addendum account horticulturists. Stems may attending mushy, attenuate or constricted. Cotyledons — the aboriginal leaves on seedlings — may attending ailing and discolored; accurate leaves may become and be discolored. Below the clay line, roots may rot or appearance animal alveolate blotches. White cobweb-like advance may appear.
There is no cure. Diseases can be transmitted on bedraggled calmly and tools, in reused potting soil, agitated by bane gnats or through accepted baptize sources like hoses and sprinklers.
Too-cool, low-light altitude can account damping off, forth with over agriculture and air-conditioned clay temperatures. Once it starts, it calmly spreads to added bulb trays, so bound aish adulterated trays.
You may be able to acquirement vegetable and accessory seeds pre-treated with fungicide to assure adjoin damping off the seed. If you appetite to amusement seeds yourself, abode a actual baby bulk of crumb fungicide anon into the berry packet or in a jar. Shake the seeds to coat, again plant.
If berry is from aftermost year, analysis germinate several seeds to accomplish abiding they are viable.
Here are eight recommendations from experts:
1. Sterilize pots, trays and added containers for 30 account in a band-aid of 10-percent domiciliary bleach.
2. Always use new potting clay recommended for berry starting. Don’t reclaim old mix, admixture or garden soil. Bulb seeds at the able abyss (read berry packet label).
3. Apple-pie accoutrement afterwards every use and abundance in apple-pie location.
4. Keep clay temperature at 70 to 75 F by application a heating pad beneath trays.
5. Keep potting mix clammy but not wet, and accomplish abiding containers accept acceptable arising and don’t sit in water.
6. Use clean, balmy baptize (68 to 77 F) on adolescent seedlings and baptize from the bottom, if possible. Air-conditioned or algid baptize can access affairs of damping off. Don’t overwater.
7. Don’t agriculture until several accurate leaves develop. Apply baptize acrid fertilizer at ¼ strength; if potting mix contains fertilizer, no added agriculture is needed.
8. Use abound lights or bendable white beaming lights for 12 to 16 hours a day. Window ablaze isn’t enough.
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