Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spring Planting

The poor lettuce seedlings. They were so crowded. My schedule says they were to go into the ground on March 20th. Well that didn't happen. I finally got them all planted yesterday, April 5th, more than two weeks past when they should have gone in.

Still they looked pretty good since they were put into the 2" soil blocks. A 2" block has a lot of growing space for their roots. They seemed rather happy even if they are crowded. I have eight varieties, two of each kind. I have my Deer Tongue and Red Sails that I saved seed from last year. Then I have seed given to me from all over. Little Gem came from Dan; Freckles came from Emily; Paris Island from Granny, Tom Thumb from Stefaneener; Dazzle and Bath Cos from Jody.

I think they will be happier where they are now. I usually leave them for a couple of weeks under the row cover. I like the row cover because it protects them when they are newly planted. If you notice I also plant radishes between the rows. I forget when those seeds got in. I had five minutes so threw them in one day. Usually I space my lettuce 8" apart which is very pushy for some of the bigger lettuces, but for the best production in a given square foot I think it produces the best. This time I spaced them a foot apart in one direction and 9" in the other. Since I'm trialing so many lettuce varieties, I figured I'd give them lots of space to see what they could ultimately be.

And since I had a bit more time I decided to put in the onions. Their date to go out into the garden isn't for another week and a half, but what the heck. I had time. We had a beautiful sunny mid 70F degree day. So it was a good excuse to do it right then. I put in Ringmaster, Red Wing, Varsity, and some bunching onions. The bulbing onions were multiplanted. I had two onions in each little soil block. Usually I would put onions 4" apart, but since there were two, I put them 6" apart. That way they have the same space per plant.

I don't have a pretty jig like kitsapFG. I just use a stake as a straight edge. I know the distance between my thumb and first finger is 6". So I use that as my measuring tool. I marked every 6" and then planted the first row. I offset the second row so the plants were all in a diamond pattern.

This year with my soil blocks I've been using screening underneath to make the bottom of the flat - well flat. Flats have ridges all around so the water can flow, but the blocks sit better if the bottom is flat. So I cut screening for the bottom. It has worked pretty well. The lettuce had no issues at all. However the onions' roots grew through the screen. When I pulled the plants out there was as much root outside of the blocks as inside. Maybe I kept this flat too wet at the bottom? Whatever was happening the roots weren't air pruning as they should. I'll have to watch and make sure to drain out the flat after watering.


  1. Your onions look good. I need to plant mine out as well, maybe tomorrow. Are you going to harvest these longer days crops before you move?

  2. Looking good, as always. My lettuce that was acquired from you is growing everyday!

  3. Your seedlings look great ! If you're early planting out your onions, them I must be really early but I couldn't stand seeing them in their little pots anymore. My chives, Egyptian onions and a few overwintered green onions are up and doing OK so I figured what the hay. (And I'm keeping some going indoors just in case).

  4. So much yummy looking lettuces. Do you have any tricks for sowing them? I can never seem to grow from seed. I get one set of leaves, maybe two, then they die!

  5. Still too cold here (UK) to plant out most thing but I have moved some lettuces outside under cut off plastic pop bottles and they seem to be doing ok.

    Lovely blog

  6. Dan, I have no clue, but I'm hoping I won't. I'm hoping to pick my garlic, but not my onions. I picked the garlic early last year due to the weather and it worked well at the beginning of July. I'm hoping to sell the house and transfer it sometime in June, but that is just a hope. If so there is no way the onions will get harvested as I harvest in August.

    EG, I hope you love the lettuce.

    Miss M, lol well they seemed ready to go out and the forecast is for some pretty nice weather in the future. I don't see any frosts anytime soon (not that onions mind a little frost). I wish our 70 degree weather would stay, but sadly it will moderate back to normal, but if we get no frost in April that would just be too weird.

    Prue, well if they fall over and die (ie the stem withers and dies) it is damping off. I use a couple of tricks. I always sprinkle the surface of the soil with cinnamon before I sow. That helps to suppress the fungus. If I do get issues I spray with chamomile tea, which is also a good antifungal. If it is something else I'm not sure. That is the only thing that ever takes out my seedlings - well that and my neglect sometimes.

    Lou, it is strange we are warmer than the UK right now. Usually you all plant out before us.

  7. Crowded, yes but your lettuce looks fabulous. I wish I had some to plant out but interestingly, that was one of my failures this spring. I was really surprised by that. I didn't lettuce would prove to be so difficult.

    Oh goody, I was wondering when I should plant out my onions. I think I'll follow your lead.

  8. Nice seedlings. We're having a Santa Ana wind storm today, so I hope my new seedlings don't dessicate.

    On another topic, I just started a Wordless Wednesday host site for garden photographers. I'm brand new to Mr. Linky, and with no posts yet, it doesn't look like yours. Could you stop by my site and see if the link works? Thanks.

  9. It all looks good. The lettuce is so neat and your soil is just drool-worthy.

  10. Thomas, I usually think of lettuce as easy, but sometimes the easy crops fail too. You just never know.

    Lou, Thanks

    Stefaneener, thanks