hydrolifeCA
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Lettuce refuses to start

Hello All,

I am living in Central America. I recently decided to to try and start some lettuce because I love lettuce. I already have peppers, tomatoes, etc without a problem.

So I got some Lettuce seeds that are from Columbia (well the variety of Gourmet lettuce is) and it deals well with the climate here, I also got a typical variety of lettuce that grows in the climate here.

Our average climate is 60's at night and in the day 80's or low 90's but I have it grown in the shade in door and the temp doesn't go above 84 or 85.

The seeds are not old and out of the same packet the lady who imports them grew a few and had no issues. So I figured I wouldn't either: wrong.

I tried several methods, first I tried germinating them in Rockwool after soaking it in 5.5 pH 1/3 cut nutrient mix water. They have failed to do anything.

So I decided maybe it's the rockwool, the mixture, etc. So I remembered an old trick with a paper towel and a ziplock bag that has never let down.

I wet the paper towel, rang it out, put the seeds on it, folded it over once. I did a second and laid the seeds on top, no folding. I stuck both in a Ziplock bag fully sealed (to lock in humidity).

I left it in a semi-sunny spot (maybe 3 hrs a day of sun) and it's been 24 hours and I see no change in the seeds. I can see it's plenty humid by the moisture in the bag.

Does anybody know why my seeds won't start? Any suggestions or ideas?

Thank You in Advance

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hendi_alex
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Most lettuce needs prolonged temperatures in the 60's in order to germinate. If the temperatures get too warm, the seeds just sit there and rot or either wait for the right conditions. Also lettuce seeds need light in order to germinate, so be sure not to plant them too deeply, 1/4 inch or less.
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Alex

DoubleDogFarm
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more time. 24hrs may not be long enough.

Eric

hydrolifeCA
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Thank you. I was worried that would be the answer. I have seen these lettuce types growing fine outdoors here but I have never seen them in the younger stages.

May to get them to start they put them in controlled climate? I know some plants grow okay in the heat but to start off they need controlled climate.

If I take the lettuce seeds and stick them in a room with a controlled climate (lets say 60's) for a day or two and they start, and then I slowly adjust them to the hotter side and let them grow in a hydroponic system do you think they would be okay?

If I can get them started would they be okay afterwards? Like I mentioned, this same blend of lettuce this lady has outdoors in the shade in an NFT hydro setup with no cooling rods and it grows fine, but I never saw how she starts them ....

Thank you

hydrolifeCA
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What if i Put them in the refrigerator?

DoubleDogFarm
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Heat is one thing to control, but so is moisture content. My greenhouse lately has been in between 80F and 100F. I keep the seed starting mix moist, but no saturated.

This is a mixture of starts. Spinach, lettuce, kale, collards, Asian greens, swiss chard.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Greenhouse%20Photos/DSC03224.jpg[/img]

Closer picture of Red Sails lettuce.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Greenhouse%20Photos/DSC03225.jpg[/img]

Eric

hydrolifeCA
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Thank you for the pictures! They look great! The lettuce seems fine and it started at such high temperatures? My temps are around your low end and mine won't start, I keep them moist as well.

Do you have any tips to how I might be able to get them up easier? As a test I stuck some in moist paper towels in a ziplock (that usually creates a humid, moist environment). That trick works on all my other seeds but has failed on my lettuce.

Well it has only been 24 hrs on this batch. I won't see them popping out of the seed for another day or two, right? I am new to lettuce?

Bobberman
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lettuce seeds will start once they get moistue from 50 to 90 degrees and above 70 they will start in 48 hours. It sounds like the seeds are bad to me. How old are they? Viability is short on some varities of lelttuce but its usually 5 years. go buy a 20 cent pack of lettuce and mix thenm and I bet the ones you buy start quick.
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hydrolifeCA
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Okay, so the ziplock bag trick should work on lettuce? It creates a greenhouse effect and locks moisture. Mine I just did in the ziplock aren't 48hrs yet so maybe I need to wait, my red peppers came in 24 so thats why I got antsy.

I will wait. Also, if they don't start, I will go get a new packet of lettuce seeds at the local store, they have some.... good advice and thank you!

Bobberman
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I like the blends that they now have in lettuce. Look on the pack they usually have like 4 types mixed and the reds mixed with the greens give the bed a nice look and also your salad will look and taste better. Oak leaf is one I like for extend time in heat. Lots of varity in lettuce with lots of blends. I always plant carrots and marigolds in my lettuce beads and they do very well. In your warm climate watch the snails they will distroy the first two leaves on a wet night quick. I always spinkle a little epsom salts in my lettuce beds.
Last edited by Bobberman on Thu Mar 10, 2011 1:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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hydrolifeCA
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bobberman, they are being started in a clean environment free of insects. For the transplant they won't be going to soil, they are going into a hydroponic system in a clean environment which should eliminate the issue for snails. I do mostly organic gardening and I like using hydroponics with organic nutrients, I have left soil behind.... haha, but I do like soil as a medium, I just .... lettuce looks so good in hydroponic setups that I have seen, hence why I am trying. If I could just get my seeds started! Also good advice on the lettuce, I am going to give these another day and if nothing, off to buy new seeds!

:-)

Bobberman
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Do you use dirt as a medium or other things like sand or pee gravel? I have often thought of giving it a try but there is no heat in my greenhouse andthe tem goes down to as low as 25 but usuall stays above 30 even in the winter. I may ad a little heat next year. My problem is the greenhouse is 50 miles from where I live and I only get there on the weekends.
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hydrolifeCA
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What I normally do to start my seeds is use a moist paper towel or a dirt mix, but truly a moist paper towel in a ziplock bag works really good.

Once they are a few days I drop them into started Grodan cubes. I recycle mine and they work fine. I dip them in pH 5.5 water and a light solution of nutrients (all organic).

I let them grow until they have about 4 leaves in those cubes. I then plug them into my top feed drip hydroponics system. Its a self contained unit. You can add a heater to it (a fish tank heater) for colder climates and it works great. I have seen people run them in areas with temps as low as 15 - 20.

Hydroponics is a really good and cost effective way to grow. I use Grodan cubes (aka Rockwool) as a medium like i Said.

Many people use coco fiber or pellet (clay). It's a matter of preference really. With Grodan you only need to let the pump water the plants 1-2 times a day for a FEW minutes, nothing more. With pellets or fiber you have to have the pump run half the day or all day.

If I can get lettuce started in my climate, they will do nicely in my Hydro system, I know it. I will post pictures once i get started. The whole system cost about 60 dollars, easy to find supplies.

DoubleDogFarm
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First I would like to say, lettuce likes a more neutral PH. 5.5 seems to acidic.

I started all the seedlings in the above photos in my new bottom watering shelf. It's not Hydroponics, but it's close. :)
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Greenhouse%20Photos/DSC03175.jpg[/img]

Eric

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hydrolifeCA, I count the time for lettuce seeds to germinate in hours but all the varieties I grow are cool season lettuces so I'm guessing your delayed germination is seed quality or variety. Like your system mine are grown in Grodan (rockwool) and either in a flood/drain system or DWC. Germination time is the same for both, first seeds pop in 36 hours and all are done in 72 hours.

Temps range from mid 80's in the F/D system where I use humidity domes to the lower 70's in the DWC system where I do not use domes. Germination is a bit faster with the higher temps. Like the others said planting depth is real shallow, top seeding even works well. Germination is done with tap water and nutrients are added after plants are showing first sets of true leaves.

[img]https://i784.photobucket.com/albums/yy130/hydroguy/Lettuce/1129101801-02.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i784.photobucket.com/albums/yy130/hydroguy/Flood%20Tray/0128111634-00.jpg[/img]

hydroguy

Bobberman
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I like the square holes in the foam board coatd with alum foil. They make a styro foam like that also that cost $7 a sheet. How long do they stay in the square hole till they grow complete?
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hydrolifeCA
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Hydroguy thank you.n i just checked today and i am at about 40 hours and to my surprise a handful are already popping up!

out of the four grodan cubes, only one has popped up. The ph on those is 5.5 is that to acidic? I also predipped the cubes in 1/3 stregnth nutes before seeding as that is typically what i do for my peppers.

When would you recommend plugging my grodan plugs into my drip system. Some say a week some say two. Also what strength nute solution do you use and what pH.

Thank you....

hydrolifeCA
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Update: My seedlings spruter and had a good inch or two on them, I took them out of the ziplock bag and dropped them into shallow starter grodan blocks with 5.5 pH (grodan said thats fine for lettuce, it works for my peppers but I may be wrong as someone above posted, if these fail I'll adjust).

They got some sun, the sprouts were whiteish but they changed to a darker color? Is that bad?

Anyway they are in the cubes, I put 2 in soil as a control. To see how they do in the cubes. I am new to lettuce so ......... maybe I am doing this wrong?

hydroguy
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Bobberman, that foam board is construction grade styrofoam I picked up at Lowe's for about $30 a sheet. It comes with the reflective side attached. That is the first and final home for the rockwool, it's a DWC system and the styrofoam floats in a tray filled with water. Those seeds were planted 1-28-11 and I am still harvesting on them.

hydrolifeCA, sounds like your doing a fine job with the variety of seeds you are growing. I try for a ph of 5.8 on most anything I grow, as plants grow and water levels change so does the ph and the concentration of nutrients. Lettuce is a lite feeder so I try and run the systems around 400ppm or lower. As with any plant watch the change in nutrient concentration (PPM's), if it rises over time your too rich to start with.

hydrolifeCA
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hydroguy great thank you. I am keeping the pH around 5.5 so good to know I am not off. I am cutting the sol. as I mentioned since lettuce is not a heavy feeder. Also since they are starting. Lets see if they prosper in my mini cubes. If the do I will plug them into my main drip system when they have four leaves (like I do with my peppers).

:-) Thanks

hydrolifeCA
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Alright, they are all now about an inch tall. one even has a little leaf. Dropping them into the grodan does not appear to have killed them. A few are looking a little brown, almost wilted and that cube was dry. So i am assuming the brown is a lack of moisture?

Next big question, as they are now, how much sun do they need? i live in a very sunny region so i typically use sun instead of grow lights, works fine on the peppers.

Should lettuce at this stage be in the sun all day or just a few hours? thanks.

Bobberman
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Lettuce is tuff I doubt if anything will hurt it now sun is fine!! High heat will make it go to seed faster but that won'r be for at least 45 days or more depending on the type. lettuce loves sun with temp in the 50's best but will grow faster as it gets more heat! fresh garden lettuce cannot be beat! I like it with olive oil and salt and many other other ways!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

DoubleDogFarm
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Should lettuce at this stage be in the sun all day or just a few hours? thanks
This answer is coming from a soilguy :D Mine are in the greenhouse and get daylight all day.
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Greenhouse%20Photos/DSC03242.jpg[/img]


Eric

Bobberman
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Lettuce is tuff I doubt if anything will hurt it now sun is fine!! High heat will make it go to seed faster but that won'r be for at least 45 days or more depending on the type. lettuce loves sun with temp in the 50's best but will grow faster as it gets more heat! fresh garden lettuce cannot be beat! I like it with olive oil and salt and many other other ways!
I enjoy fishing ,gardening and a solar greenhouse! carpet installation repair and sales for over 45 years! I am the inventor of the Bobber With A Brain - Fishing Bobber!

hydrolifeCA
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Thank you both! Okay So I am sticking it in the sun! I need to get it moving so in another week or two I can transplant it into my top-feed drip system!

Hopefully nothing will hurt it now hehe! I love lettuce!

hydrolifeCA
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Okay Update after a few days: Today 3 of the seedlings look green and health, they have sprouted tiny little leaves (4 leaves) although they are very tiny still, they seem to be progressing beautifully.

The other 2 seems to have died out, they were a little brown and wilted from the start and they just never grew. I am not concerned as with peppers I always have a few in every batch that don't work out either. I assume this is normal? Can someone confirm that?

The other blend of lettuce, the gourmet from columbia has yet to start. The seedlings are just sitting. One popped a tiny tiny bit. But it's only been 48 hours. Maybe they won't show until 72. I will just wait.

Thanks everyone :-)

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