Tricks to Planting a Successful Leaf Lettuce Crop

Leaf lettuce isn’t a difficult vegetable to grow, by any means. However, for the best results, there are some tricks that can be used to plant the lettuce. These aren’t particularly difficult, but they do seem to be almost counter-intuitive, so many people don’t know about them. Light The biggest tip is probably that for lettuce seeds to germinate, they need sunlight as well as water. With most vegetables, the seeds are planted a quarter of an inch to a half an inch deep and sometimes deeper. However, this doesn’t work very well with leaf lettuce. The method that yields great results is to prepare the row for the lettuce, then moisten the row well. Lay down the lettuce seeds, press them firmly into the dampened soil, then water them well, using a fine mist so the seeds don’t get washed away. Clear plastic, such as the plastic wrap used in the kitchen, can be laid down over the top of the seeds to retain moisture while also letting the sunlight through. This isn’t necessary though, as long as the seeds are kept quite moist until they germinate. If the conditions and temperatures are right, germination usually takes place within two days, provided that the seeds are reasonably fresh. (Lettuce seed starts losing its viability in a year or so.) Temperature Lettuce is a cool-weather crop and grows best when the temperatures are 55 F to 65 F. Despite this, the best germination of the seed occurs when the temperatures Continue Reading →

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The Importance of Checking Soil Temperature

A lot of people understand that when there is a hard frost, many of the less hardy plants in the garden are likely to die. What fewer people understand is that soil temperature is just as important as air temperature in keeping the plants alive. This can be confusing because a frost is caused by a combination of air temperature and humidity. With the emphasis that even weather stations put on frost reports and warnings, it would seem that soil temperature is unimportant. This would be an incorrect assumption. For most garden plants to flourish, they require a healthy root system. If the soil temperature is too cold, the roots die or struggle to develop. This is the reason that plants may continue to grow in the fall even after they’ve been ‘singed’; that is, a light frost has occurred and perhaps killed a number of the leaves. If the soil is still warm and the roots are still in good shape, the plant continues to grow. Taken a step further, have you noticed how some plant seeds will lay on or in the ground, not germinating even when the air temperature becomes quite warm? Many seeds in this situation will actually rot, rather than germinating. This is because of the ground or soil temperature. If it isn’t warm enough, the delicate roots of seedlings won’t survive, so the seeds don’t germinate. Some seeds won’t germinate until the soil temperatures get substantially above what we might consider to be warm. Continue Reading →

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