How to Start Seed Indoors (Part 2 of 6): Prevent Damping Off

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Indoor Seedlings - Maureen Gilmer

Use Clean Bedding to Sow Seeds Indoors.

You wouldn’t put your new born child into dirty blankets for fear of dangerous germs in the bedding, so don’t germinate your garden seed in anything but sterile, soil-less media. Natural soil is riddled with fungus microbes that aren’t dangerous to adult plants, but they can be fatal to seedlings. When soil is exposed to warm wet conditions ideal for seed germination, these fungi flourish. They’ll seek out a seed and attack the tender new sprout even before it breaks ground. Collectively, the many fungal varieties are known as “damping off”, and are the reason why it’s not a good idea to start seed in natural soil.

What prevents damping off from getting a foot hold on seedlings is light and oxygen. We can’t expose most seed to light because they are underground and require darkness to sprout. So the best way to avoid problems with opportunistic damping off fungi is planting in a sterile, soilless media created to enhance seed germination.

BG Seedling Mix

Black Gold Seedling Mix

Black Gold Seedling Mix is light in texture to allow plenty of air to move through, even when it’s warm and wet. The addition of perlite ensures it does not pack down, so seed that takes more time to germinate will be assured an airy root zone too. The mix also makes a perfect light weight, yet absorbent material to cover seed, so even the most dainty sprout will rise to sunshine without difficulty.

Black Gold Seedling Mix is sterilized so your seeds need not fight the fungal spores present in ordinary potting soil. Money spent on sterile media for seed starting is well spent because you are assured much greater success than using other media that is not sterile. Seedling mix also resists packing down and rarely retains too much moisture.

Before sowing into Black Gold Seedling Mix, moisten the entire mass with warm water. Mix it as you would a salad by turning the material lightly with your hands, over and over to even out the moisture content. Like salad, keep it light and do not apply pressure after sowing seed to retain oxygen, enhance drainage and remain ever-ready to support new life.

This article is part of a six-part series entitled How to Start Seeds Indoors by expert garden writer and Black Gold contributor Maureen Gilmer.READ MORE ARTICLES FROM THIS SERIES…
Intro: Germinating Vegetable Seeds Indoors: Get A Head Start This March

  1. How to Start Seed Indoors 1 of 6: Reading the Seed Packet
  2. How to Start Seed Indoors 2 of 6: Use Clean Bedding to Prevent Damping Off
  3. How to Start Seed Indoors 3 of 6: The Right Container Helps Germinate Seed
  4. How to Start Seed Indoors 4 of 6: Sowing Your Seed Properly
  5. How to Start Seed Indoors 5 of 6: Proper Watering of Indoor Seedlings
  6. How to Start Seed Indoors 6 of 6: Transplant Seedlings Into Pots