Now that spring is creeping closer I thought since it's time to start your tomatoes and peppers or other seeds in general I would talk about damping off disease. Damping off disease is one of the major causes of seed starting failure. The disease is actually caused by a variety of fungi that can kill seedings and germinating seeds. Here are some tips to live by when starting seeds to prevent damping off disease
1) It's in the Mix
One major component of preventing damping off disease is to use a sterilized seed starting mix. DON'T ever use garden soil ever!!!! Also don't use regular potting mix, or even worse potting soil (I never use potting soil for anything, it's crappy) to start seeds. Commercial seed starting mixes aren't necessarily sterile so as an extra precaution you can bake your seed starting mix on baking sheets in the oven at 200 F to kill the the spores of the mold and fungi.
2) Don't over water
Once the seedling start to germinate cut back on the water a bit. Overly wet soggy conditions create the right environments for some nasty mold growth.
3) More Air
Circulation of air around seedling also reduces fungi and mold growth. It also prepares seedling for lie outdoors where the air is not still. This can be achieved by using a fan on your seedlings.
4) Look for Signs
If you see signs of mold growth or seedlings flopping over and dying there is still hope if you catch it early.
You can spray your seedlings with one tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed with a quart of water. This will kill most kinds of funky fungi and mold that might grow in your seed starting trays. Also a strong Chamomile tea works as well, chamomile has anti-fungal properties.