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Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

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Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  plantoid on 5/16/2013, 8:13 pm

Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds that is the question... well it was till today

Lots of folk say don't cover lettuce seeds as they need light to gerrminate.

Well I'm the proud owner of six lettuce plants that disagree with that idea
i sowed six lettuce seeds directly on top of some fairly damp slightly compressed MM in a plant pot tube and covered them with 1/8 th inch ( 3 mm of fine vermicuklite and put them in a germinating under an LED grow light on a heated bed at 67 oF .

It took 9 days for them to germinate and poke their tiny heads out the vermiculite where upon I took the pot /tube of plants out the cabinet & place it in my un heated greenhouse where ave. day temps have barely reached 50 oF ( 10 oC ) except for two days of almost 19 oC ( 60 oF ) Night temps as low as 5 oC .


Now 16 days on from sow date they are 1 & 1/4 inches tall ( 32 mm ), tomorrow in between rain storms they're getting planted out in the big wide world of a bed of MM .

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  quiltbea on 5/16/2013, 8:34 pm

I've done it both ways and both work. The idea is that you don't need to leave the seeded pots in the dark like you do most everything else you start indoors. They can go right under the light or if sown directly outside, they're in the sunlight. As long as you keep the soil damp, it works.
I'm glad to hear your try was a big success.

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  plantoid on 5/16/2013, 9:02 pm

Gosh just re read my first post .. affraid dyslexik & dis - jointed or what ?? Laughing

QB .
I truly didn't realise that people were germinating in the dark so to speak .

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  quiltbea on 5/16/2013, 9:39 pm

plantoid.....Are you funning me? Laughing If not, to clarify.... Seeds, most of them, do NOT require light to germinate. You can leave them in the dark, in a quiet corner, under a solid dome, whatever, until they germinate, then move them under the lights. Some of mine pop in 3-5 days this way.

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  plantoid on 5/17/2013, 9:33 am

Not kidding QB , I've always had space and a place to put peat seed compost covered sown seeds somewhere warm in the day light , fluroescent light or UV lit places .

Though I have occcasionally speeded up things by germinating in a fungicidal free paste or on 1/4 " squares of damp kitchen towel inside a lidded glass dish and as soon as the seedling shows colour or evidence of splitting the seed case have transplanted the micro seedling into a growth medium and taken them out to the greenhouse or cold frame etc. for further development.

Those that were germinated in the paste were usually squirted in 30 inch long drills direct in the garden using a poly bag with a tiny bit of the corner cut off to make an exit hole like a srynge .

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  quiltbea on 5/17/2013, 10:55 am

plantoid....Save some money on your electricity, and some much-needed early space, by starting seed away from the lights.

I never tried the paper towels or the paste. I worry too much about too easily breaking the sprouts started on paper towels but I've wondered about the flour and water paste in a bag and squirted out.....maybe with tiny carrot seeds that are so hard to distribute in a row.
Have you tried it and did it actually work being spaced already so they aren't a mass when they come up?

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  plantoid on 5/17/2013, 4:02 pm

@quiltbea wrote:plantoid....Save some money on your electricity, and some much-needed early space, by starting seed away from the lights.

I never tried the paper towels or the paste. I worry too much about too easily breaking the sprouts started on paper towels but I've wondered about the flour and water paste in a bag and squirted out.....maybe with tiny carrot seeds that are so hard to distribute in a row.

Have you tried it and did it actually work being spaced already so they aren't a mass when they come up?

It was with carrot seeds that I pre germinated in the dark warm airing cupboard in a thin slightly watery when cold gel made of Xanthum gum . I think it was a level teaspoon per pint of warm water to make the paste but in th Us your teaspoons are like shovels and a pint is a lot less than an imperial one so you'll need to play abit to get the ideal slightly runny paste if you want to try it. When I tried them with a runny flour and water the paste went evil sour & mouldy almost over night.

If you make the hole small enough in the poly bag by nicking the corner using a craft knife on a smooth wooden block they easily squirt out as a thin row or you can make tiny dollops .
Before you cut the corner gently manipulate the gel and seeds in the bag to get an even distribituion throughout the gel , take care ,don't squash the seedlings .

It worked very well for each 30 inch run of paste and carrot seeds , all harvestable at the same time .. preventing opportinity for carrot fly attack and making it easy to get all of them washed ,peeled ,sliced & blanched in one go into the freezer in vac packs in one morning or laid up in layers a trash cans full of carrots and ever so slightly moist peat down in the ground floor cellars .

Over here in the peat based soils of what is known the Fenlands ( East Anglia ) lots of farmers are using a similar but mechanised method to sow in paste pre germinated seeds in massive fields of carrots & other fine seeds because of the erratic weather and not getting them all germinating at the same time .
It means they can harvest the whole field in one day and get the optimum sized crop throughout .

I've also used it to germinate other fine seed like flower seeds using a few seeds at a time or for lots of " bedding plants " seeds at a time and used a tea spoon handle or a cut to shape drinking straw as a lifter to lift the micro seedlings out the tiny lidded germination pots and put one or two of them into plant pots or in a few cases direct into the soil.
Due to everything oozing around in the gel there is rarely any damage to the micro seedlings .
Don't be tempted to use a modern cellulose wall paper paste .. it normally contains a fungicide that will kill off any seed growth or germination .
( guess how I know ? affraid Embarassed Laughing 0


Last edited by plantoid on 5/17/2013, 4:14 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  quiltbea on 5/17/2013, 4:06 pm

plantoid....Thanks for the feedback. Something to think about for future carrot seeding.

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  No_Such_Reality on 5/17/2013, 4:20 pm

Plantoid, do they just massively overplant and then thin?

The only thing I've found for getting carrots to germinate all at once is the boiling water trick in an organic gardening book. Needless to say, pouring boiling water into my bed seems like a sure way to kill off most of the microorganisms in the beds.

Although it works wonders for getting carrots to sprout promptly.

Can you share a little more detail on mixing the paste and volumes. like a cooking recipe. 15 ml water, 15 ml xanthum, 1 pinch (0.3 ml) seeds, type of thing?

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  plantoid on 5/17/2013, 5:31 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote:Plantoid, do they just massively overplant and then thin?

The only thing I've found for getting carrots to germinate all at once is the boiling water trick in an organic gardening book. Needless to say, pouring boiling water into my bed seems like a sure way to kill off most of the microorganisms in the beds.

Although it works wonders for getting carrots to sprout promptly.

Can you share a little more detail on mixing the paste and volumes. like a cooking recipe. 15 ml water, 15 ml xanthum, 1 pinch (0.3 ml) seeds, type of thing?


The pre germinated carrots on the farms are brewed in a heated sterile tank under strict set conditions . The tank is then pumped into a sterile sprayer that has 20 or so rotary distriibution discs over the length of the arms of the sprayer with channels in them that will allow a single germinated seed covered in the correct amount of " slime " to be pumped out of it , it is all timed electronically and " magic eyes " sort out the spacing intervals of the slimed germinated seed in the heads so you get 20 rows of even spaced carrots right along the full length of the field . They turn round at the other end and again using a very acurate GPS to a precision mapped remote controlled tractor drive by do the next 20 rows about as accurately as you can draw with a pencil and ruler a single pass of another 20 rows of carrots.

My pal Barry who used such sowing tehniques on his farm used to say the only reason he was in the tractor was to watch the birds in the next field and turn the tractorround and on and off.


I can only give what worked for me as the US measurements are different .. the quality of the water will also vary tremendously and will affect the viscosityof the cold slimy gel.

If you feel like trying and making adjustments ( a packet of xanthum gum is very cheap ) .... My UK level teaspoon was about 10 ml , a pint of water is as good as 700 ml .
My tap water is very very soft ..in seven years we've never had to clean any scale off any taps oor out of kettles or boiling devices .
We only use a fraction of the suggested amounts of soap powders as it is so soft , it must be close on pH neutral on the acidic side of things .


Once I'd got the gel runny enough when cold ... ( I made it so it didn't set hard or quite as solid as /like a dessert fruit table jelly ) . I used less than a 1/4 of a teaspoon of carrot seeds in the gel . The seeds should be lightly suspended in the gel and not drop to the bottom if you swing the poly bag with seeds & gel around your head a couple of times . ( affraid do it outside ? Laughing )

I used to have the actual weigths of xanthium gum powder and carrot seeds and that of other seeds set written down in gunpowder grains measurements as I used my ammo reload scales to weigh it all out .
I've also use guar gum but for the life of me can't recall the results due to a bit of memory bank data loss in the neck top computer as a result of the stroke .

I no longer shoot and no longer have the scales or list as I sold everything off for the stroke made shooting an impossible & dangerous pastime for me .


Last edited by plantoid on 5/17/2013, 5:43 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  ETNRedClay on 5/17/2013, 5:33 pm

@No_Such_Reality wrote: pouring boiling water into my bed seems like a sure way to kill off most of the microorganisms in the beds. Although it works wonders for getting carrots to sprout promptly.

If that works so reliably, why not pour boiling water over the seeds, then plant them?

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

Post  No_Such_Reality on 5/17/2013, 6:24 pm

@ETNRedClay wrote:
@No_Such_Reality wrote: pouring boiling water into my bed seems like a sure way to kill off most of the microorganisms in the beds. Although it works wonders for getting carrots to sprout promptly.

If that works so reliably, why not pour boiling water over the seeds, then plant them?

I haven't found a good strainer to use that will hold the seeds but is big enough to let me pour the water on them. The boiling water basically does the scarification, cracking the seed open allowing natural moisture germinate.

I think being in the soil basically allows the boiling water to do the crack but absorb into the soil mix to drop the temp enough to not cook the carrot seed. Kind of like a drive by I guess.

Thanks for the info Plantoid. Some of the agri-business stuff gets to be pretty sci-fi like.

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Re: Lettuce to cover or not to cover the seeds ?

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