Cut-and-Come-Again Lettuce Samplercomments (11) November 11th, 2009
Better ways to sow small seeds
Because they are harvested while very young, cutting lettuces can be planted in fairly dense bands. Instead of broadcasting seed, it is just as easy to sow rows about 3 inches apart, with 1⁄2 inch to 1 inch between plants in the row. I have found that it takes less time to plant seed carefully than to thin seedlings; besides, if not done properly, thinning often disturbs the roots of the seedlings that are left.
There are several ways to sow seed to eliminate thinning. Simplest is to mix the seed with dry builder’s sand (not salty beach sand), using about twice as much sand as seed. This makes it easier to dribble seeds at fairly even spacing down a marked row. An inexpensive little gadget that distributes seed much better than a seed packet is the Seed Sower, which has five different-size outlets to control the flow of seeds down a tapered spout.
|The author uses the Seed Sower to deliver a thin, evenly distributed line of lettuce seeds.||Cut carefully while harvesting. Damaging the crown will hinder the plant's ability to resprout.|
For garden rows, my old reliable is an Earthway Seeder, for which I now have a dozen seed plates for different seed types and spacings. It makes a furrow, plants the seed at whatever depth I want, covers it, and firms the ground, all in one pass.
Last season I experimented with the Pinpoint Precision Seeder, which can handle six seed sizes. It’s smaller and more maneuverable than the Earthway, and works well with a finely tilled, debris-free bed, but is a bit finicky in less-than-perfect conditions. A larger version sows four rows 2-1⁄4 inches apart, perfect for mesclun.
If enough space is available, or just to confuse pests, I sometimes skip the cut-and-come-again routine in favor of harvest, hoe, rake, and reseed. I harvest the young plants, roots and all, stir the soil up with a stirrup hoe, rake the bed flat, and sow fresh seed.
posted in: Lettuce