Four weeks ago, this lettuce was started indoors and under grow lights. Transplanting seedlings directly from the warmth of a cozy house, into the cold spring garden is far too dramatic of a change for young plants. They need a transition stage for success.
Two weeks ago, I moved the tiny lettuce starts outside onto a pallet table and then protected the seedling flats with a plastic cover. I also fed them for the first time with a very dilluted organic fish emulsion. On warmer days, I have lifted the plastic cover and exposed the seedlings to wind and light rain. The cooler temperatures, and harsher conditions outside, have helped to “harden off” the seedlings. They have gotten tougher, have stayed compact and will be better able to survive in the garden.
Today, the baby lettuce is getting transplanted. I’m going to use 1/2 toilet paper rolls, as collars, around each seedling to give them bit of protection from hungry garden critters. I am also going to sprinkle fine sawdust around each plant. It’s been my experience, that slugs and snails can’t tolerate sawdust adhering to their sticky bodies. Over the next couple of weeks, each evening and during heavy rainfalls, I will protect the young starts with a plastic row cover. By mid-April, their lush leaves will be ready to eat.