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.