Plant Your Seeds Germination rates typically vary from 70 to 90 percent, so you should plant more seeds than you think you'll really need. Log in, 11 Ways to Keep Your Chickens Cool This Summer ». Since lettuce can’t be frozen or otherwise saved, be sure to fully enjoy the harvest once the lettuces are ready. When you thin seedlings, you’re also helping to improve the air circulation around them. Be sure to fertilize and mulch occasionally, and weed the garden particularly well around leaf lettuce; weeds will compete for resources with the other small plants. Leaf lettuces should be direct sown whenever possible, meaning that the seeds are planted where the plants will mature. Follow similar steps whether you are thinning romaine seedlings or another variety of lettuce. Thin plants to correct spacing once they reach a few inches tall. Keep in mind that even the baby seedlings can be eaten in salads. Leaves can be directly harvested using garden or kitchen shears. Cover lightly with soil and water well. Learn which variety of lettuce you are planting and know it’s growing needs. Thin the seedlings when they are 2–3 inches (5.1–7.6 cm) tall. Follow similar steps whether you are thinning romaine seedlings or another variety of lettuce. Leaf lettuces are usually ready to harvest within six to eight weeks from planting; check the seed packet to know when to expect harvest. Lettuce prefers the cooler temperatures of spring and fall, but can be grown during the summer if given enough shade and water. Replant seeds in areas where plant spacing is too far (if applicable). This can be difficult to do with very small seeds like carrots, lettuce, radishes, and beets. Your email address will not be published. Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. Hi everybody. To save time and effort, many gardeners sow vegetable seeds—especially seeds that are very tiny—simply by broadcast sprinkling them in garden beds rather than sowing each seed individually. Examine the seedlings to see which appear to be the healthiest and strongest, and thin the smaller plants around those when the soil is damp, says Gardener’s World. Since old lettuces will eventually bolt, making them bitter, don’t be afraid to harvest an entire plant before it passes its peak. Replant seeds in areas where plant spacing is too far (if applicable). Since there’s no good way to preserve lettuce, most gardeners will plant a new row each week, ensuring they’ll have multiple harvests of lettuce to enjoy. If the seedlings have grown close together, their roots could be intertwined, and tugging one out could disturb its neighbors. Don’t let the seedlings get too big, as more leaves will form, which can cause crowding. Learn which variety of lettuce you are planting and know it’s growing needs. Lettuce seeds are small, so it can be difficult to plant them at specific intervals. Cutting the plant back to the soil can stimulate it to produce more leaves, but the timing should follow the season (for instance, cutting the plant back in late fall may not yield additional lettuce). Monitor the growth of the seedlings closely. Sow seeds at correct spacing. Growing vegetables from seed is much less expensive than buying seedlings from a garden center, but growing from seed also slightly more work. In order to get the best-tasting yield, leaf lettuces should be properly thinned. Leaf lettuce that is packed in too tightly without adequate air circulation can often taste bitter because each individual plant is competing for resources; it can also go to seed early (a process called bolting) which ruins the taste. Once harvested, leaf lettuces can keep for up to two weeks in a plastic storage bag. If you're thinning a crop of lettuce seedlings, you can actually add the tiny thinnings to your next salad.  X Research source It's easiest to wait until the seedlings are tall enough to grasp. I am new to gardening and growing vegetables. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com). The best approach is to plant seeds in a row, then wait until sprouts reach a few inches in height; most leaf lettuces should be thinned to about 4 to 6 inches apart, but check the information on the seed packet to confirm the desired distance. How to Know When Romaine Lettuce Is Ready to Pick? She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. For very tiny seeds, you can spend more to get pelleted seed (seed coated with an inert material) or seed tape (seeds embedded into soluble tape) which are prepared specifically for easy sowing. Sympathink: How to Grow Baby Oakleaf Lettuce, Gardener's World: How to Thin Salad Leaves. I think most have all of the plants growing and I need to know when and how I should thin them - … Quick Overview of How to Thin Lettuce Seedlings. The leaves are ready to be eaten when they are firm but not hard (lettuce becomes woody if harvested too late); older leaves should be harvested, even if not to eat, to stimulate the growth of new leaves. However, even leaf lettuce should be properly spaced in a garden. If growing outdoors, be sure to protect the lettuces from rabbits, squirrels and deer, who may consider your garden a buffet line. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Garden lettuce comes in two distinct varieties: head lettuce and leaf lettuce (both Lactuca sativa), which generally grow best in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 10, according to Sympathink. Step by Step Thinning of Seedlings: Illustrations: Step 1. Thin plants to correct spacing once they reach a few inches tall. The practice of thinning plants is done to allow them plenty of growing room so that they can receive all the proper growth requirements (moisture, nutrients, light, etc.) Depending on the season and the plan for the lettuce, plants can also be cut back completely or pulled up entirely. I would like to know how to thin my seedlings. If this is the case, use clean kitchen shears to snip off the seedlings at ground level. Since leaf lettuce can be harvested by the leaf, it might feel like the more seeds planted, the bigger the yield. To avoid thinning, sow seed evenly, seed-by-seed. Lettuce seeds are small, so it can be difficult to plant them at specific intervals. Use the plants that were thinned out to make a salad so they don’t have to go to waste. Head lettuces grow as one plant; leaf lettuces grow as individual plants, and both are easy to grow. I am growing lettuce, green beans and peas and I planted 3-4 seeds per little hole.