The Q&A Archives: Seedling Moisture Requirements

Question: I will be starting some vegtable and flower seeds indoors this year. After the seeds sprout, when is the best time to remove the plastic cover from the seed starting tray? I worry about mold and "damping off". I have bought sterilized seed starting soil.

Answer: As soon as any seedlings emerge, remove the plastic cover from the tray. Some starting setups have a water-wicking mat and water reservior, which provides a constant supply of moisture the unsprouted seeds. If yours doesn't have this feature, you'll just need to monitor the tray daily, and water to keep the soil somewhat moist. Using sterilized soil is helpful in controlling damping off, but it's also essential to provide air circulation. A fan set nearby, running on the lowest setting, should do the trick. The breeze also helps seedlings develop strong stalks. As your seedlings grow, you can decrease frequency of watering, which will encourage strong roots that search out moisture. Good luck with your seedlings!

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