Friday, 15 April 2016

Pricking-out Lettuces

It's so easy to have too many Lettuces! When you buy a pack of seeds it normally has hundreds of seeds in it, and the temptation to sow them ALL may well be strong. However, unless you are a commercial grower you really don't need hundreds of Lettuces - certainly not at the same time. A better plan is to sow little and often (a technique called "successional sowing"). I usually try quite hard to follow this method, but I don't always succeed.

Look how many Lettuce seedlings there are in the seed-tray here:

"Dubacek", "Redin" and "Little Gem"

Yes, far too many for my needs. So today I have been "pricking-out" a few of the best seedlings - putting them into separate pots. My technique involves easing the seedling out of the seed-tray with a piece of sharpened bamboo, and then gently dropping it into a hole made in the compost of the individual pot, prior to firming it in with my fingers. This one is a "Redin" seedling:


Notice that I have put a couple of slug-pellets in the pot as well. Young Lettuce seedlings are considered by slugs and snails to be a very desirable delicacy, and when I am only going to grow a few Lettuces I can't afford to lose any.

"Little Gem"

Immediately after pricking-out the little seedlings I give them a good drink of water and put them somewhere sheltered and out of direct sunlight for a while, which allows them to recover. When you uproot them like this they often go floppy because their roots temporarily stop picking up moisture (this is called "transplant shock"), but within a couple of hours they usually perk up again.

As well as the ones I pricked-out into pots, I also transplanted some slightly bigger Lettuce seedlings to their final growing-place in one of my raised beds.

They are 4 specimens of a small Butterhead variety called "Tom Thumb". This is one kindly provided for me to try by Marshalls. Being a very small variety, it is one that will appeal to growers with little space available.

I have designated one of my beds as "The Salads Bed", and in it I have sown Radishes, Spring Onions, the "Daddy Salad" described a few days ago, and now these Lettuces. As the year progresses I will try to fit in a number of different salad crops, so that we always have something salad-ey available for harvesting until about October - or possibly beyond if the Endives and Radicchio perform better this year.

Waiting in the wings I also have these Lettuces too - a mix that includes some of the "Yugoslavian Red" sent to me by Elza in Holland.

They are only very tiny at present, but that's just what I want - they fit very nicely into my "succession" plans.


  1. Your lettuce is coming on - mine is just now starting to germinate, although one variety - a new packet at that - is being sluggish about it.

  2. They are looking good, not sure if we are growing lettuce or mixed leaves this year. Everything is very pared back for 2016.

  3. Seedlings could do with the temperature rising a little to get them going, they are very slow at the moment.

  4. They're nice looking seedlings Mark. I sowed some lettuce indoors recently but none germinated. It was quite old seed though so I've started again with some fresh.


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