View from the deck on a glorious morning in early June.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When all else fails, follow instructions.

WAAAH!!! My first planting of leeks is damping off! And it is entirely my fault. Talk about being penny wise and pound foolish.

This has never happened before. I feel like someone working in a hospital, besieged by increasingly resistant bacteria, who has come to rely on the magic of antibiotics and gotten sloppy about hand washing.

What does every garden book tell you about starting seeds, which I have been doing for more than 40 years now? Use a sterilized planting medium. I usually make it a point of saving some from the big bales and keeping it handy so I can thaw it out come February. But last year I did not sell plants at the market, I ran out of potting mix and did not feel like shlepping another bale to the greenhouse. Instead I sieved potting mix that had been used in containers last year and used that. Sieved, but did not sterilize.

Fortunately I have lots more seed and it is still early. But still. There goes a full month of time advantage. The only other things I got going are leafy greens, that are very replaceable if they die.

Today we buy some bags of starter mix. Grrrr. 

Continued: The next two batches did not do well either. That may have been burning by overzealous use of liquid fertilizer, rather than damping off. There had been no sign of fungus after all. Instead of my usual Sunshine mix enriched with COF I had some Schultz all-purpose liquid plant food and diligently misted my seedlings with it. Did I use an exact measure? No.....more what Jamie Oliver calls a glug. Finally read the instructions. For a one liter spray bottle half a teaspoon will do. Oops. See title of blog. So old, and not yet wise.....


  1. I do that sort of starting the seeds, only to see the damping off fuzz eat them all. I did better when I put a light covering of the seeds with fine vermiculite - it is supposed to decrease the moisture on the soil surface, which should decrease the mycelial formation. I only tried oven baking the seed starting soil once. Very hard to air out the house and disguise the stink with cinnamon water boiling furiouslyst toss out the poor wilted starts, and start a new batch. I know I need to do sequential seedings, but that's easier to say than do. Good luck, and maybe a bit of delay before Spring arrives this year will help out.

  2. Thanks Barry, now I don't feel so foolish. Love the picture of your house with cinnamon boiling furiously. It wasn't the fuzzies, they just died off. And the second batch of seeds, fresh this time, that I added in empty spots in the same pots barely came up.


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