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Article: Seed Starting 101: The Dreaded Damping Off (and How to Prevent It): A timely article

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Forum: Article: Seed Starting 101: The Dreaded Damping Off (and How to Prevent It)Replies: 4, Views: 28
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pamsaplantin
Morgantown, WV
(Zone 6a)

March 3, 2008
7:21 AM

Post #4615716

I was thrilled to find stevia seeds at my local Target store a few weeks ago. I rushed home, filled a nice pot with regular potting soil, planted half my sparse treasure, watered, covered lightly & put it all on the seedling heat mat. A week later, I had a pot full of grungus with one tiny frail seedling trying to make its way upward. I remembered your suggestion about the ground cinnamon & sprinkled it around the invalid knowing in my heart that it was futile. Two days later he, too, was gone.

Now, I have reread your article & when I start over I will begin with sterilized soil!!!! I had a good bit of trouble with damping off last year but nothing like this. I used a reputable brand of potting soil, so I just didn't believe it could make that much difference. The heating mat is new & I suspect that may be what made the situation so nasty, so fast. Anyway, I truly appreciate your article. Thanks!!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 3, 2008
7:59 AM

Post #4615734

You're welcome... but FYI, the problem may not have had much to do with your technique... Stevia can be really tricky to germinate. Even with fresh seed sent by a friend, I don't think I got better than 10% germination. The little seedlings sit there forever looking tiny and frail before they finally get enough of a root system to take off. Bottom heat will definitely help germinate Stevia... and you might even try pre-sprouting the seed between layers of damp paper towel in a baggie.
pamsaplantin
Morgantown, WV
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2008
12:45 AM

Post #4618778

Thanks for that info. I won't dump the pot just yet but almost the entire surface of the soil has white "stuff" growing on it. Mold? Fungus? Who knows. I was sick. I don't believe I over watered. I just don't know what went wrong, but sterilization would surely have to help whatever it is. I invested in some chick grit today & I'm getting ready to microwave some soil in a little while. It may have been a good thing that it happened now with just one type of seed instead of later when I start the bulk of my seeds for the garden. Lesson learned! And I'm very glad I saved half of the seed as a backup.

About sprouting seeds in a baggie - can you tell me how you do that? I've had people tell me they do that, but the one time I tried it, the seeds just got slimy & smelly. I assume the bag has to stay open but is there anything else I need to know?
Thanks!
critterologist
Frederick, MD
(Zone 6b)

March 4, 2008
3:54 AM

Post #4619781

I don't think I've ever had seeds get slimy with the baggie method, hmm. You could probably add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide to the water (keep in mind the 1 tablespoon per quart ratio used for watering seedlings) that you use to moisten the paper towel -- couldn't hurt. The paper towel or coffee filter shouldn't be dripping wet; wring it out pretty well. Put the seeds between two layers of damp paper towel, then put the paper towel into a baggie. I do seal the baggie, but I puff a little air into it first (although I couldn't tell you the rationale behind that; it's just what I do).

You can hold the baggie up to the light to check for sprouting -- look for little "tails" forming on the seeds.
pamsaplantin
Morgantown, WV
(Zone 6a)

March 4, 2008
6:19 AM

Post #4620281

Thanks! I'll try that.

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