Whether you start them yourself or buy them from a garden store, caring for lettuce seedlings is a delicate process. Lettuce is a cool-season vegetable and can withstand a light frost. Plant your seedlings as soon as danger of a hard freeze has passed. Lettuce will thrive with the right care and conditions and garnish meals throughout the season.
Two weeks after seeding a garden bed with lettuce you’ll have tons of little seedlings popping out of the ground. Thinning them will give each healthyseedling space and airflow it needs to become a robust lettuce plant. Wait to thin until they are at least an inch tall and you can see which ones are taller and stronger.
The stronger ones are the keepers and thinning is easy.
- Using clean scissors cut weaker ones away by trimming them at ground level. You can let them fall and leave them to compost into your soil.
- Space the remaining seedlings 3-4 inches from each other. Romaine varieties should be spaced 8 inches apart.
If you started your lettuce in a greenhouse or bought seedlings from the nursery, you’ll need to transplant them into your garden. Here is a step by step process for transplanting lettuce seedlings.
- Acclimate seedlings
Acclimate your seedlings to outdoor conditions and sunlight by bringing them outside each day. Gradually increase the amount of time they spend outside over a week’s time. This will strengthen them against wind, rain, light frost, and direct light.
- Moisten The Soil
Water the garden bed where your seedlings will be planted to moisten the soil before putting them in.
- Dig Holes
With a spade, dig holes as deep as they tray the seedlings are in. Typically they will be in 4 inch deep containers, so your holes should be 4 inches in depth and wide enough to accommodate all the soil in the container.
- Prepare Seedlings
Loosen the seedlings by gently squeezing the bottoms of the containers. They should be loose enough that when you turn them over the seedling falls into your hand. Fluff the soil around the roots with your hands until there is no compaction and the roots are loose within the medium.
Put the seedlings into their holes and fill in the hole with extra dirt. Fill to the same level the soil was at in the container. Gently push down around the new lettuce plant to get rid of air bubbles in the soil. Water them in, and you are ready togrow lettuce.
Gardening Tip: Seedlings are prone to shock during transplanting. It’s important to avoid pulling or tugging at the roots during the process. In most cases, seedlings will recover within a day or two if kept well watered.