We seeded the lettuce March 15th in a small tray. These trays are perfect for a small amount of one variety of seed. If seeded sparingly the little plants can stay for a good month in the tray. Now is recycle time. We use a disposable foil tray that is generally used for cooking a 9 x 9 inch cake. Poke holes in the bottom with a large nail. And for a bottom to hold the water a plastic lid from your favorite cookies at the grocery store. They fit nicely together.
On our first attempt at starting lettuce we got a little carried away and the lettuce came up a thick as hair on a dogs back. When I transplanted it was real wimpy and I wondered how long it would take to get strong enough to transplant to the garden. After transplanting each little plant into to the 4-cell pony packs we let them settle in a few days before taking them down to the greenhouse.
It took four weeks for the plants to grow and get strong. The plants have to be somewhat root-bound or they will not hold together when they are planted with the planter. Now we were able to use our new planter that we bought last year for transplanting. This is the medium 2 1/2 inch size Planter. He pops each plant out of the 4-cell pony and sets them upright in a large bucket. The bucket is hung from his belt for easy access to the plants. First he jabs the planter in the ground with the handle together, opens the handles wide, which digs a small hole and then drops the plant into the top of the planter tube.
The plant drops three feet but it does not injure the plant in the lease. He then closes the handles and picks the planter up, which pushes the dirt tight against the roots of the plant and lifts the planter above the lettuce. Shazam, it is planted!
He continues on down the row measuring about a foot between each plant with his boot. It doesn’t take long and two 50 foot rows are planted. It takes more time bringing out the plants to the garden and cleaning up after yourself than it does to plant the lettuce. On to the next project.