Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Tea Party for My Seedlings

Every year I grow seedlings the dreaded damping off fungus rears its furry head. I reuse my pots and sterilize them in the dishwasher to keep such diseases away. I also use a sterile potting mix, but neither of those two controls seem to be good enough. It isn't that I lose a lot to this disease, but I lose a couple and to me my seedlings are precious.

The poor little seedlings are only susceptible when young so some say grow those seedlings fast and they will outgrow the issue before it becomes a problem. Others say don't fertilize too much since that makes the problem worse. I mean really? They can't make up their minds. Do I grow my seedlings fast or do I withhold the fertilizer? You can't have it both ways.

Well my seedlings are in a very cold window that ranges in temperature from 50-60°F (10-15°C), not to mention that they are onion seedlings. They will grow SLOWLY. It's just in their nature. So I'm not going to give them a lot of fertilizer. What I am going to give them is tea.

Not just any tea. I don't like my seedlings getting too anxious about their chances of dying from damping off, so it will be chamomile tea. I made a big batch of it last night. This morning I poured it out into my watering can and diluted it a bit. This is what will water my plants for a while to keep them healthy.

That chamomile smell is so delightful. I wish I had made the tea for myself, but not to worry, I have a couple of more cups of chamomile blossoms left still from my summer harvest.


  1. If this works for you I just might have to try it. You'll have some nice relaxed seedlings!

  2. Good idea, Daphne. I'll have to try that as I hate the smell of the neem oil solution I use. I usually water the seedlings with a little in the water and I don't end up with damping off,and littel bugs (when not if I over water :). I use it to spray the benches in the greenhouse too. Your idea sounds much more pleasing to me!

  3. I'd like a cup myself, thank you ;-)

    I need to put that on my shopping list, as I've noticed a few radish seedlings succumbing to damping off. Only in the planter, not in the garden bed, even though they are both in the same soil and situated within feet of each other. Go figure.

  4. That tea should be a nice mellow fertilizer for your onions. My grandma always puts tea bags in her plant pots to make them grow better.

    I rarely fertilize anything, indoors and out. They always seem to get by just fine.

    I linked to your blog on my current post :-)

  5. Catherine, I hope it works too. At the very least it will give them a little food.

    DirtDigger, I've never smelled Neem oil, but I do love the scent of Chamomile.

    Annie's Granny, I've never figured out damping off. Some seedlings die. Others right next to them live. It seem so random to me.

    Dan, I've never fertilized with tea bags. I have given my indoor aloe leftover tea at times. I figure it is better to do that than toss it after it goes cold.

  6. One for you (plants) and one for me! I love chamomile tea, but I never knew it helps with damping off. Thanks for the tip Daphne!

  7. Thank you so much for an excellent tip Daphne, it is so funny and great that you by blogging can learn new things every day.

    Clever girl!

    Take care/ Tyra

  8. Thanks for visiting Daphne, Great tips on your own blog I share your tomato fetish. I now have 8 varieties if they all survive, I will worry about where to put them later on.

  9. I do the same thing for works wonderfully! Now I wish my tea pot was as cool as yours!