We love lettuces for salads, especially the frilly types.
And other leafy greens – endive, miners lettuce [not really a lettuce], gotu kola, parsley, mizuna, etc.
This is a good time to plant a new lot of lettuce and other greens to provide lovely leaves for many months now the weather is cooler as the days are shorter.
Soil moisture is still important – even if it rained recently, is the new lettuce bed really moist and easily worked?
If the soil is very dense there is less air for the roots and seedlings ‘damp off’ with root rot instead of growing well – they need air as well as water. Add loose, friable material such as good compost
If there is an ants nest there, they keep soil dry around their home and its amazing how dry such patches can be!
We check soil moisture each day [move mulch aside and feel below the surface with a finger to decide if they need water]
It’s such a balancing act – too little moisture or too much [specially from over-head rain or watering] cause stress. Too wet can cause leaves which touch each other to hold moisture and become slimy or mush – not nice!
Keep them just moist so they can germinate and grow strong roots.
We generally plant seeds rather than seedlings. If you let one lettuce plant produce seeds, there will be hundreds, even thousands. We spread them around all over and leave some to self-seed.
Another point for good germination is soil temperature
Too cold and seeds take ages to start to grow.
Try an experiment some time and go out at mid-afternoon and put your hand flat onto soil in full sun and notice how cold/hot it is. Now feel soil in a shaded place.
Ants will carefully carry away lettuce seeds to feed their colony! It is amazing watching a tiny ant maneuver a much larger lettuce seed off to their nest!
Snails and slugs love tender new lettuce seedlings – we put a barrier around them for protection
Caterpillars – especially ‘Green-Looper caterpillars’ love tender leaves and can decimate plants when the caterpillar is 2-3 cm long it has great chomping ability! And they are so well camouflaged! I pick them off by hand when I find them. Neem spray or granules are a deterrent as they stop insects, bugs etc eating.
Black-birds dig for worms etc and throw seedlings all over the place – not good for their survival when their roots are in the air! We place bird netting over new beds as we have LOTS of black-birds!
Best times for planting seeds of greens?
After the new moon on Wednesday 26th April is the best week to plant for lush leafy greens.
The best days are Thursday 27th and Friday 28th April 2017. Also Sunday 30th afternoon and Monday 1st May to Tuesday 2nd May – time to sow lots of lovely greens!