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Little lettuce

Granada lettuce seedlings

The year’s first lettuce is beginning to put on its true leaves. Here, Granada that will turn an intense burgundy, is just barely showing a tinge of red around the edges. The seedlings are still looking sharp: stocky and upright. Under the relatively weak fluorescents, they’ll inevitably stretch, but that’s OK, it’s…expected. Mid-February and it’s quiet and calm around here, the spring rush remains just around the corner, there’s still plenty of time to stop and gaze at the seedlings…



  1. They look really good, your seeding set up works really well. Have these been reduced to one per plug by this stage?

  2. Nice! We just bought a 400W metal halide light to start seedlings indoors and grow lettuce all the way to the harvest stage. I’ve noticed a problem and would love to know if you are having the same trouble.

    With lettuce, chard, and cole plants (broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts) the seedlings become extremely leggy, often 3″ tall without any true leaves. Does this happen to you and do you know how to stop it? I can’t imagine that they aren’t getting enough light, but who knows.

    It didn’t happen with the tomato, pepper, or spinach seedlings.

    I’m hoping you have guru farmer knowledge!

  3. diva

    you certainly have beautiful photos….such close -ups of the lettuce..
    do you have a bigger hoophouse to plant the seedlings into in a few weeks.??

  4. Deborah: Not yet! I’ll snip ’em back to one per in a day or two… :)

    Kevin: Mmm, guru-level knowledge you won’t find here just yet. Check back in a decade or two! For now, it’s just me typing away about whatever I’m up to… IN ANY CASE, I have the same stretching problem with lettuce and brassicas when I start them indoors all the way to transplant time. I figure it’s not enough light intensity. I don’t actually do that much entirely inside, just this super-early stuff, so my experience with artifical light growing is very limited. When you’re trying to grow to maturity indoors, I don’t think it’s DIFFICULT, but it’s definitely a whole other area than working in the field. You probably need a good BOOK! ;)

    Most of my seedlings start getting sun by March/April, so half their life in pots is mostly out in sunlight. And later in the season, I start lettuce and brassicas just to germination indoors (it’s too hot in the uncooled greenhouse, especially to start lettuce), but I put ’em out right after that. I don’t get significant stretching then, so with the all-indoor stuff, it’s probably a lot to do with light levels.

    I’ve looked quite a bit at the 400W and 1000W metal halide set-ups (I’m still sticking to fluorescents for now)… One thing I noticed is that there are two recommended coverages. Like, for the 400W, I have a HydroFarm Agrosun booklet that shows 8’x8′ coverage, but discovered that that’s for supplemental light. The 400W coverage is actually only 4’x4′ for a primary light source. How’s yours set up?

    diva:, Yep, this batch should be out in the hoophouse around the second week of March!

  5. Thanks for the advice. I’m starting to think heat is causing them to get leggy, since you mentioned heat as a possible problem. At the moment, we’ve got about 1-2 square foot of seedlings under the light, and another 2 square feet of tomato plants (2 tomato plants, to be precise +1 giant broccoli) growing hydroponically under it (in waterfarms). When the seedlings of whatever plant get their first true leaves, we’ve been moving them out to our cheapo greenhouse.

    This is filled with complications though, since the thing gets close to freezing every night, and if I’m not careful, up to 125 degrees every sunny day! Hoping for an early season of fresh tomatoes, I’ve killed 36 of the poor plants so far. It might be fair to call me Kevin the [plant] Ripper!

    I’m starting to think that fluorescent was the way to go, since HID lights are fairly hot and must be kept 18-24″ from the plant, while fluorescent lights can almost touch them. Sadly, I spent $200 on the thing, and am too cheap to switch over now :).

    I hope you do a post sometime on your greenhouse. I have had no luck with the thing, and would love to learn what I’m doing wrong. No one in town or at work has one besides me, so I don’t have anyone to discuss it with. *Waaaaaaah*

  6. Looking good Mike! I have got to get my butt in gear – I haven’t started anything yet!

  7. […] reading and staring at one screen or another, is the are the early seedlings. Here, the Granada is rapidly putting on color on its way to deep red… Lettuce-watching. Not that there’s little to do. There’s […]

  8. brad

    Has anyone grown lettuce indoors? Im growing a combo of tomatoes,peppers, wheatgrass, and lettuce indoors. Im using a 90 watt led grow light and using organic soil. My growth rate has been excellent. Anyone else growing indoors? Im starting sunflowers this week and iris… Im interested in trying my lettuce hydroponically next.

  9. Cal Poly Student

    I am a student at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo, CA. I was hoping you would give me a few mintues of your time filling out at short survey to help with a project on consumer preferences of lettuce.
    Just click on the link below to get started!
    Thank you for your time!!

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