Well, I wasn't expecting this. I just set up a "Square Foot Gardening" raised vegetable bed and filled it with the mix recommended in the book (equal parts peat, compost, vermiculite). It is very fluffy and should be very well drained.
I am losing most of my carrot and beet seedlings to damping off: they germinate and then topple over due to the lower part of the stem withering. I have been watering the seeds and seedlings lightly every 1-2 days unless it rains, and we have had no extended rainy spells. When I water them I am probably only moistening the top few inches of soil -- not drenching the entire raised bed. Beans, spinach, and radish seedlings are doing fine.
Any tips? Should I just keep replanting the gaps in the carrots and beet sections? Water less? I'm afraid of watering less because it is really hot and dry here this summer.
Next watering, mix a couple capfuls of Hydrogen Peroxide in your water. Regular old, off the shelf, dollar store peroxide in the brown bottle.
I usually use about one capful per gallon jug of water, so guestimate from there. last season, I grew 250 tomato and 65 bell peppers from seeds, indoors under lights, and not one case of damping off.
Also, too damp and too cold at the same time will affect your seedlings. The babes will turn purple. If this is the case, put a hoop over your bed to protect them from too much wind and cold. A simple pvc structure can go up in 15 minutes.
If you can, order the perforated plastic sheeting from Territorial Seed Company. The holes ventilate so heat doesn't build up and fry your seeds. Also, air and water can penetrate, so you won't have to take it off and on.