jimhuck
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Location: Sacramento

Starting Lettuce

I am new to seed starting, so forgive me if these are oft repeated questions.

We had some problems starting lettuce plants a couple of weeks ago, and we're trying again. They germinated, but then died a few days later.

We're placing seeds in small starter pods, keeping the starter mix moist and warm with a heat pad, and placing them under a grow light.

4 questions:

1) Once the seeds germinate and pop out of the start mix, should we take them off the heating pad?

2) If yes to # 1, how warm should the air temp be while the seedlings are growing.

3) How long should it take for true leaves to appear?

4) Should we wait for true leaves to appear before we add some "liquid fish" fertilizer?

I will appreciate any advice you can offer. THank you in advance!!

Jim

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Halfway
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Welcome Jim. I'll take a crack at it as I have been growing lettuce heavily both outside in the spring and fall and in the basement during the heat of summer and all through the winter. Keeps me from going batty I guess.


1) Once the seeds germinate and pop out of the start mix, should we take them off the heating pad?


As soon as I see both leaves I take them off the pad and up-pot into their next container.


2) If yes to # 1, how warm should the air temp be while the seedlings are growing.


In the summer, the basement is about 64-68, in the winter as low as 52-56 and I have no problems. They do grow a bit slower in the colder temps, but that is negligible.

3) How long should it take for true leaves to appear?


It usually takes about 7-10 days before that third leaf gets big.


4) Should we wait for true leaves to appear before we add some "liquid fish" fertilizer?

I guess I don't ever look for "true leaves" with lettuce, but I do start them on low nutrient solution at about 14 days. In fact, for hydroponics it is about 1/4 quarter solution as lettuce is not very demanding. In the raised beds, the medium is a third compost and I don't add any kind of fertilizer for about 30 days.

Hope that helps. What kind of lettuce are you growing?
Zone 4a.

jimhuck
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Lettuce types

I'm growing red cabbage, a "gourmet mix" of lettuce, and some iceberg.

Just curious. You say you pot up almost immediately. I was hoping to plant directly into the ground without potting up.

Is that not a good idea?
[/quote]

wordwiz
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Re: Lettuce types

jimhuck wrote:Just curious. You say you pot up almost immediately. I was hoping to plant directly into the ground without potting up.

Is that not a good idea?
[/quote]

I hope it is! I sowed three 128-cell trays with Parris Island Cos lettuce and my game plan is to let them grow for another three weeks or so, until their roots fill the bottom of the cells, then transplant them into my garden. I still have two trays left, and potting mix to fill them! Come Tuesday evening, another 256 seeds get sown!

Once most of them sprout, they go into my GH. The temps vary from the 30s to the 90s, unfortunately. But I will keep them watered!

I'll let you know if a couple of months if this is a good idea or not!

Mike

DoubleDogFarm
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Jim, Welcome to the forum.

You don't have to up pot. I only up pot if they will be sold at the Farmers Market.

Here is lettuce from an open flat, I'm transplanting into the garden. This was last year, but I have lettuce ready to plant tomorrow or next.

[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Seedlings/DSC02823.jpg[/img]
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Seedlings/DSC02826.jpg[/img]
Open flat starts
[img]https://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h300/eric_wa/Greenhouse%20Photos/DSC02028.jpg[/img]

Eric

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I agree to plant lettuce in a open flat or small box. Lettuce will transplant easily! I like cold frames also since lettuce will sprout even in 40 to 50 degree soil. I have 4 cold frames with lettuce 3 weeks old! I will transplant half of it and leave the rest in the cold frame when its gets 3 to 4 inches high. If you plant lettuce close so it does not get to large it will be very tender for a few weeks!
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!

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Halfway
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Re: Lettuce types

jimhuck wrote: Just curious. You say you pot up almost immediately. I was hoping to plant directly into the ground without potting up.

Is that not a good idea?
[/quote]

As with what DDF said, you do NOT have to up-pot. I do when growing inside and meant it as the next or final growing medium. Sorry for any confusion.
Zone 4a.

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soil
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i find the easiest is to do what doubledog does if you want straight rows. sow heavily in flats, then separate when bigger, plant and watch them grow.

i personally just toss seeds out before a rain, and in a few weeks i have lettuce.
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rainbowgardener
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I just direct seed lettuce into the ground. It is sprouting now!
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