Damping-off disease dampens a gardener’s mood quickly. You’re going to get a sinking feeling yourself when you see rows of seedlings keeling over. You can often forestall the issue — caused by fungi in the soil — from sowing your seeds on top of sterile seed-starting mixture, covering them with milled sphagnum moss, sand, or chicken grit, and watering them from the bottom. When it’s too late for this, you might be able to save seedlings that haven’t succumbed yet with the assistance of homemade fungicides.
The Spice of Life
Because cinnamon is just a natural antioxidant, it can stop or halt damping-off disease in your seedlings. Since powdered charcoal has also been recommended for this purpose, you might choose to concoct a double-strength fungi-fighting formula by combining 1 part cinnamon with 1 part charcoal. Sprinkle a light dusting of the powder above the surface of the ground or seed-starting mixture and leave it there until the seedlings are big enough for transplanting.
A Bottle of Bubbly
Hydrogen peroxide, the bubbly liquid you use to clean wounds and scrapes, also relaxes the clocks of the fungi that cause damping-off disease. To implement it, mix 1 tbsp of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide — the kind usually sold in drug stores — with 1 gallon of water. Spray the surface of the soil or seed-starting mixture with the solution or set the seedling container at about 1 inch of that solution, until it’s drawn up through the drainage holes and also lightly dampens the surface.
Only One’s Cup of Tea
A cup of tea is going to have a bracing effect on your seedlings if you create it using a antioxidant herb or herbs. Because you want the tea to be more powerful than what you drink, use extra bags or steep the tea for a longer time than you normally would. For instance, steep three chamomile tea bags in 1 cup of boiling water for 20 minutes, or steep two bags in that cup for many hours. Nettle or clove teas also kill fungi. Again, either mist your soil or seed-starting mix with the water or tea the seedlings’ container from the bottom with it.
The Garlic Cure
Like vampires, fungi too can be repelled with garlic. Chop or sterilize a clove of the herb, then drop the resulting slivers into 1 gallon of water, and let them soak overnight. The morning after, strain the garlic pulp from the water and use the water to mist or even bottom-water your seedling flat.