Preventing Damping Off of Seedlings
I am just getting ready to start my seeds indoors this year. Last spring my seeds sprouted but many of them suddenly collapsed and died. How can I prevent the problem this year?
The symptoms you describe are associated with a fungal disease called damping off. Prevention starts with using new or sanitized containers (disinfect used containers with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water) and a sterile planting mix. Good drainage is important as well since this disease thrives with excess soil moisture. Keep the soil warm and moist, but not waterlogged. Provide plenty of light and thin seedlings to improve air circulation. This is often all that is needed to prevent the problem. If the disease returns, remove any infected plants and treat the remaining seedlings with a soil drench of a fungicide labeled for this purpose. Be sure to read and follow all label instructions carefully before applying.
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