DIY Seed Starting: Damping Off Prevention (Part 2 of 6):

You wouldn’t put your newborn child into dirty blankets for fear of dangerous germs in the bedding, so don’t germinate your garden seed in anything but fresh, soilless seed starting mix. Used or natural soil is riddled with fungal microbes, called Pythium and Phytophthora fungi, which are fatal to seedlings. They quickly cause roots and tender stems to rot.

Under warm, wet conditions ideal for seed germination, these fungi flourish. They’ll attack tender new sprouts as they break ground.


Preventing Seedling Damping Off

Indoor Seedlings - Maureen Gilmer
Use Clean Bedding to Sow Seeds Indoors.

What prevents damping off from getting a foothold is fresh mix, moderate water, sunlight, and airflow. Black Gold Seedling Mix is light and airy in texture, so it encourages drainage and good aeration, even when it’s warm and wet. Even the most dainty sprout will rise to sunshine without difficulty in this lightweight yet absorbent mix.

Unopened bags of Black Gold Seedling Mix do not contain the fungi that cause damping off. Fresh seedling mix also resists packing down and rarely retains too much moisture. Once you have opened a bag, seal it after use to help keep it free of disease-causing fungi because these spores can be in the air where conditions are damp and plants are growing.

Before sowing into Black Gold Seedling Mix, moisten the mix with warm water. Mix it as you would a salad by turning the material lightly with your hands, over and over until evenly wetted. Like salad, keep it light and just apply light pressure after sowing the seed.

About Maureen Gilmer

Maureen Gilmer is celebrating her 40th year in California horticulture and photojournalism as the most widely published professional in the state. She is the author of 21 books on gardening, design and the environment, is a widely published photographer, and syndicated with Tribune Content Agency. She is the weekly horticultural columnist for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs and contributes to Desert Magazine, specializing on arid zone plants and practices for a changing climate. She works and lives in the remote high desert for firsthand observations of native species. Her latest book is The Colorful Dry Garden published by Sasquatch Books. When not writing or photographing she is out exploring the desert on her Arabian horse. She lives in Morongo Valley with her husband Jim and two rescue pit bulls. When not writing or photographing she is usually out riding her quarter horse.

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