Lettuce landscape

Plugsheets of lettuce

A tiny landscape of lettuces: Especially with the hot, dry weather we’ve been having, you can’t go wrong with a few trays of leaf lettuce seedlings, lending support to the baby greens in the field! Transplanted at 8-10″ spacing, lettuces in a variety of colors and shapes—oakleafs, salad bowls, lollos—can be picked at least a couple of times as leaves for a bigger-leaf greens mix, or thinned as they start to really fill out, with two or three varieties bundled and the rest left to grow all the way. Lettuce options!

Greens, protected!

Brassica greens under row cover

Floating row cover, weighed down and made semi-transparent by water, is all that stands between fine young brassica greens and the scourge of the flea beetle. The cover is placed right after seeding, weighed down by rocks every 12.5′ feet, briefly rolled back for weeding, and progressively loosened as the greens grow—we use 14′ wide sheets on 10′ wide beds. This medium-weight cover has worked as a good all-round solution, offering a few degrees of frost protection, and more durable than a lighter, insect-only weight, which would allow better light transmission (this medium weight one is 85%) and better air circulation, but also be more likely to tear.

Making salad mix

Combining varieties of lettuce seed for salad mix

Adding a pinch (5g) of fairly pricey Rushmore (a beautifully deep-red oakleaf) to a batch of salad mix. This is the basic all-lettuce summer blend: seven varieties, selected mainly for color (greens to reds), texture (flat to frilly), and to some degree, seed cost (the price range of lettuce varieties is quite extreme). This inexpensive digital gram scale makes it easy to add relatively small quantities of certain varieties, and keep each batch consistent. Weigh out, shake up in bottle, ready to go. Here: 100g – that’s a lot of little lettuce!

Trimming parsley

Trimming parsley

Parsley, curly and flat-leaf, overflows its 72-cell plug sheet. Time to trim it back (again), so they still fit under the lights. To be unfussy and safe, a quick shear of only 2-3″ off the top literally takes a few seconds and does the trick. Snip-snip-snip-snip-snip! This is what you have to do when you start seedlings extra early, and then wait on the weather!

Seedlings in the sun

Hardening off leetuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings get their first taste of full-on springtime sunshine. Next stop, into the ground in the greenhouse. I wouldn’t call this hardening off, some of these are being transplanted later today—tomorrow’s cloudy forecast should give them all the post-transplant adjustment break they need, then bring on the sun! (Starring in this pic, always reliable Black Seeded Simpson.)