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When preparing to plant be sure that flats, tools, plant containers, and benches are clean. Damping off pathogens can live in these containers. The easiest way to disinfect them is to dip them in a bleach solution for 10 seconds. Use 1 part bleach to 4 parts water. Or use 70 percent rubbing alcohol.
Plant in a light, well drained fertile seedbed. Preferably use sterile soils that have been pasteurized with heat before planting. Maintain a soil pH at low end of average scale. A soil of 6.4 pH is less susceptible to root rot than a pH of 7.5. As plants are watered pH gradually increases. Test often and continue to maintain a lower pH while plants are still germinating. If necessary use one tablespoon of vinegar to 1 gallon of water to lower a rising pH level.
Plant seeds no deeper than 4 times their own thickness. Keep seedbed soil on dry side after planting and allow plenty of bright light but not direct sunlight.
Use plant containers with drainage holes, water from bottom only, and avoid excess watering. Do not allow pots to stand in water as excess water cannot drain and roots will be starved for oxygen which will stop all growth of seedlings. Never water late in day.
Avoid overcrowding and overfeeding of plants. Do not overfertilize, especially with nitrogen.
For additional organic tips from experts on damping off:
Author: Marilyn Pokorney Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment. Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading. Website: http://www.apluswriting.net