White mold around seedling is a sign of “Damping off”.
If you are using rainwater to water your plants, the organisms may have come from there. Make sure your water butts and containers are all clean, and sealed to stop organic material from getting in. With mains water, this should not be an issue.
Generally speaking, the goal will be to provide enough water to moisten the seeds. But you do not want to soak them. Of course, the amount of water required will depend on the particular type of seeds you are trying to germinate.
How To Reduce The Chances of Damping Off
If you are growing your seeds in commercial compost, the fungus should not be present in your growing medium. If you are growing in home-made compost, it may have been the source of the damping off organisms.
Other common problems with seed germination revolve around temperature. Temperature will have a bearing on cellular metabolism and growth rates.
If you have poor germination rates, this may be because you have not provided enough water for these processes to take place. If the soil in your seed trays, containers or planting areas is too dry, you should be able to see or feel this fairly easily.
If you are saving your own seed, be sure to mark containers with the date when you collected them, so you know when to use them.
After experiencing how easy it was to see which seeds germinated using paper towels, I decided to pre-sprout more of my indoor seedlings. I routinely pre-germinate tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, Swiss chard, melons, cucumber, squash, cilantro, spinach, and kale.
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Benefits of Pre-Sprouting Seeds
Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.
About half the old seeds sprouted, and the rest were duds. I planted the sprouted seeds and watched the seedlings carefully to see if they would grow. I didn’t expect much from them, but they did grow into healthy transplants that were eventually planted into the garden.
One of the most frustrating things about starting vegetables from seed is waiting for them to emerge from the soil. Pre-germinating seeds is a great method for the impatient gardener, because it lets you see your seeds sprout before they are covered with soil.