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How do YOU prevent damping off?

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How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 1:44 pm

So I sowed my seeds in my first SFG bed two weeks ago...everything started off great with strong, healthy looking seedlings...

Now I appear to be having some issues with my seedlings damping off...so far its happening with at least a dozen or so radishes...which is disappointing because those things were really taking off and looking healthy (The plants still look healthy except for that they've fallen over and the base of the stem looks dark and very thin)...and I'm having the same issue with some of the chard and arugula. 

I haven't overwatered...we did have one day where we got a torrential downpour out of nowhere, but my mix seems to be effective at shedding any excess water quickly...its also been really windy and probably not as much sunlight as the seedlings need...but either way, all signs point to damping off so I'm assuming it is a fungal problem.

I've got plenty of excess seeds so its not the end of the world to just sow more, but I would imagine I'll likely end up with the same issue...so my question is how do I prevent damping off when direct sowing? I've read about the peroxide, chamomile, cinnamon methods...what do you guys use? What is the most organic method (idk if there is anything inorganic about peroxide)? and what is the easiest method?

Thank you all so much for any help/input!


Last edited by BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 1:58 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : To emphasize that I want first hand opinions and not links to articles that I have already read.)
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/7/2013, 2:40 pm

In spring when I plant my indoor seeds into used MM, I spritz the top with hydrogen peroxide first.  It's worked great so far.

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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 2:42 pm

@CapeCoddess wrote:In spring when I plant my indoor seeds into used MM, I spritz the top with hydrogen peroxide first.  It's worked great so far.

CC
Thank you...I'm leaning towards this as it seems to be the easiest and cheapest method...how much peroxide do you use? I've read one cup in a gallon of boiled water...does that sound right?
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/7/2013, 3:04 pm

Ooo...I did not know we were supposed to dilute it. Shocked  My spray bottle consists of a wicked cheap bottle of drug store hydrogen peroxide with a spritzer from some other bottle screwed onto the top. One to three spritzes over a 6 cell pack is about it.

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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 3:07 pm

I've read that you are supposed to dilute it...but it sounds like it's working just fine for you!
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 3:27 pm

It's probably most frustrating for me to read comments that say that all of these home remedies are worthless and the only true way to prevent this is to use a sterilized growing medium and not over water...that seems all well and good for people who want to grow tomatoes and peppers and start them indoors and move them outdoors...but a lot of the stuff I want to grow suggests direct sowing outdoors...so unless I'm expected to fill my entire bed with sterilized mix (which is impossible for Mel's Mix) that's not really a realistic option.
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/7/2013, 3:54 pm

Hmm...I start my tomatoes, onions and peppers indoors...in last years used MM from the SFG boxes.  But I know that lots of folks like to start with a good seed starting mix. 

It might be best if you try to get to the bottom of why your MM is causing this to happen.  I have no ideas but if you list what your compost is made of and post photos of the affected plants, probably some one will come along that can help you.

Meanwhile, I'd spritz before planting, experimenting on another batch of radishes before putting in anything else.

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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 3:58 pm

Yeah I am going to get some peroxide and a spray bottle tonight and re-sow the areas that need to be replants and spritz the surface with the peroxide...and that look salvageable I will just spray the plant and mix surrounding it with peroxide because I think you can actually bring the plant back if they aren't too far gone.

I read on one source that higher levels of nitrogen can contribute to the problem...I have rabbit and chicken compost in my mix...so maybe it is a little too high in nitrogen for the seedlings...but hopefully the peroxide can counteract that.
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  Marc Iverson on 11/7/2013, 4:19 pm

If the chicken manure in your compost is not particularly well-composted and then cured for a bit, it could be a problem. I've damaged plants that way before. Chicken poop is pretty powerful stuff.

It sounds like you have multiple stressors. You said you got a lot of wind; that actually dry out plants quicker than they can take in the water to recover from it. It's also hard on splindly little seedlings sometimes. And it adds wind-chill to rainy situations. If the wind is not whipping about in every direction, could you block any of it? maybe from the worst direction? Is row cover a possibility?
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  camprn on 11/7/2013, 4:31 pm


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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 4:36 pm

@Marc Iverson wrote:If the chicken manure in your compost is not particularly well-composted and then cured for a bit, it could be a problem.  I've damaged plants that way before.  Chicken poop is pretty powerful stuff.

It sounds like you have multiple stressors.  You said you got a lot of wind; that actually dry out plants quicker than they can take in the water to recover from it.  It's also hard on splindly little seedlings sometimes.  And it adds wind-chill to rainy situations.  If the wind is not whipping about in every direction, could you block any of it? maybe from the worst direction?  Is row cover a possibility?
The wind has died down for the past two days...but after the rain we had two days of consistent winds around 20mph...I pretty much watched helplessly as it whipped around my little seedlings...Do you think the stress of the rain followed by the wind could have made the seedlings more susceptible to damping off? Some of the seedlings just look wind stressed, especially the lettuces because of how fragile they are...but others, especially the radishes than I'm concerned about definitely seem to be damping off, they have that dark "pinched" appearance at the base of the stem.

The chicken compost that I used was just Black Hen, so I would hope that it was mostly well-composted...I used it as 1 cu. ft. of a total of 8 cu. ft. of compost.
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  BrianDorry55 on 11/7/2013, 4:38 pm

Thanks camprn, I read that article...at this point I am really just trying to get input from different people on what has worked best for them...I'm trying to decide between the peroxide, chamomile, and cinnamon methods...or a combination, based on advice from multiple (hopefully) posters who have experience with the issue.
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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  CapeCoddess on 11/7/2013, 4:48 pm

I used the cinnamon once, too, and it worked fine.  I just sprinkled it on after planting the seeds.

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Re: How do YOU prevent damping off?

Post  camprn on 11/7/2013, 5:17 pm

What has worked for me..... plant inside in sterile planting medium and not over watering. goo ventilation is important. Once the plants have grown well and strong, they are hardened off and then placed in the garden, again with good ventilation and light watering.

When sowing directly, I always sow a lot more seed than plants that I will end up growing in the space. often some succumb to fungus, some are genetically inferior and collapse. This leaves the ones that continue to grow as the strong survivor stock. I have not needed to do treatment for fungal problems on seedlings.

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