Vanishing lettuce

Vanishing lettuce

Where have all the lettuce gone? Nine little Two Stars seedlings vanished overnight with only stubs of stem to mark their place. This is a new one for early lettuce in the hoophouse, nothing similar happened in the past. It’s probably field mice (actually, voles), particularly since no leaves were left behind. I dug around for cutworms (a pest I haven’t yet had a chance to meet)—thankfully, nothing! Whatever it was, I found where mice have tunneled in (the hoophouse sits on 4x4s bolted to T-bars pounded 3′ into the ground, IOW, a wood frame sitting on the surface, easy to tunnel under), and filled the holes, which won’t stop ’em, but will be an indicator if they’re out and about tonight. Other than that, there’s nothing else to do right now, besides starting a tray of replacement lettuce, in case the munching turns into a wholesale lettuce slaughter. Let’s see what’s up tomorrow…

5 thoughts on “Vanishing lettuce”

  1. I recently discovered a new trick for outing cutworm: drench the area in LOTS of water for a full minute or so. The cutworm (presumably) can’t manage without air and come up in a hurry, gasping, at which point, “Gotcha!” Works well for seed trays.

  2. Mike,

    That sounds like a good trick. Luckily, I haven’t run into cutworms so far, I’ll try that if I do. Having to out them in TRAYS sounds quite alarming… :)


    No, the lettuce isn’t a big setback, and stuff always happens, for me half the satisfaction is working around little setbacks and occasionally lucking out (oh, I didn’t get that golf ball sized hail that pummeled everything in sight only 10 miles down the road, that sorta luck!)…and always making a solid weekly harvest. Thanks for the extreme compliment…it’ll make it that much easier to stay on course with my daily-or-so posting plan once the season really gets rolling.


  3. Hi

    Ive sown two lots of salad bowl lettuce recently.

    I prepared the ground
    Siwed at correct deprh
    Covered in the expensive white netting

    Blow me, first lot grew well, the I thinned and a werk leter, not one left

    Ive since sown another lot, this lot hasnt grown atall, despite watering reg.

    Cd it be slugs are eating them from underground, as ive not seen any this year, with the ground being dry?

    • Hey Dawn,

      In my experience, lettuce is tricky. The same seed can germinate great one time, then a couple weeks later, not at all. And a lot seems to depend on variety, planted side by side, one variety grows and germinates great, another does poorly. Or the same variety from last year vs fresh seed. Lettuce is really heat sensitive when germinating: the hotter the overall temperature, especially the ground temperature, the less likely good germination. The easiest way to get a feel for things is to germinate indoors in a tray and transplant. That way, you can make sure it’s in cool conditions and watered.

      If something is eating your seedlings, that can be harder to figure out. Make sure to check at least a couple times a day. Look for tracks in the soil. See if there are little stubs of the stems left, showing that they were bitten off. If you transplant, the larger seedlings will make it easier to see the type of pest damage, most likely the whole seedling won’t be gone. Look for clues! Once you have more info, ask other growers near you, and check online.

      It’s really just common sense detective work. It’s the way you learn about the exact spot where you’re growing. Every little area is different – different sunlight, pests, exposure to wind, and so on – and there are often several possible causes when there’s a problem. Be determined and you’ll get answers and results! :)


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