Last time, we focused on the three main factors you need to control in being consistently successful in starting seeds. We looked at soil moisture, soil temperature and light; with a quick look at soil fertility. This is the third part of our seed germination overview, so, if you’ve missed the first two – read up here!
Controlling seedling disease is our focus today.
It’s extremely frustrating to check on your painstakingly tended seedlings and finding they’re half dead, covered in fungus or have a halo of tiny gnats flying around them! A little bit of knowledge largely prevents this, and if they do start to show up you’ll know what to do.
So, here it is in a nutshell – The single biggest cause or contributor of seedling disease is simply over-wet soil for too long a time period.
Please stop for a second and read that again. It really is that important.
Yes, this sounds contrary to our last discussion about good seed germination needing very damp soil, but it’s not. The seed needs a lot of moisture, but the seedling does not.
And yes, there are other causes of seedling disease, but they are not nearly as common. We will discuss some of the soil related ones in the next issue.
Preventing disease is exactly why several times we’ve mentioned the need for reducing both the temperature and moisture levels as soon as the seed starts to sprout!
For instance – Damping off is one of the biggest killers of very young seedlings, and can contribute to preventing seed from germinating because it is caused by soil borne fungi, one type which infects the next generation of seed. The root cause is infected seed or soil that is allowed to be too wet.
Another example – Fungus gnats only lay their eggs in soil that is consistently damp. That infected potting or seed starting soil is then used to start or transplant seeds or seedlings in, hatching a new generation of the pesky critters.
Things you can do:
The key is to closely monitor the soil moisture levels when the seeds are sprouting, then reduce them to barely damp or slightly moist. If you use a cover on the seedling tray to maintain moisture, watch for moisture build-up on the cover. Removing it for a couple of hours and placing a small fan to circulate air across the tray will greatly reduce the chance of diseases getting a toe-hold.
If you’ve followed our adventures last fall, you know the civil unrest in Burkina Faso stopped shipments of Shea butter, limiting our inventory. We ran out of a few selections and have only started getting a restock this past week. Most items are back in stock, with the remainder arriving early next week.
Only pure, Grade A Shea butter has the ability to heal skin from chafing, splits, nicks and cuts as well as moisturizing. All other grades moisturize, but the heat and chemical refining destroy the healing abilities.
Our supplier maintains close relationships with the villages who harvests and processes this wild-crafted skin care miracle traditionally, ensuring a far superior product.
The women hand harvest the nuts only when fully ripe and have fallen to the ground so the trees aren’t harmed. Then they dry, roast and grind the Shea nuts by hand and very painstakingly coax the butter from the roasted nuts in warm water, making sure to not over heat and damage the healing properties of the Shea butter.
It is because of the care taken the consortiums of villages earn a premium price for their work and product; much different from the commodity Shea butter processed by commercial factories with heat and harmful bleaching chemicals. They are able to make a living wage because of the quality.
Because of this relationship we can offer you the price we do; packaged in glass jars and sold through spas and salons it easily sells for three times our price.