This is not a salad

Scraggly lettuceMy first seed experiment of the year is not…I repeat, not…an unqualified success.

I realize that’s a double-negative, folks, and that there are grammar teachers out there writhing like a wounded tomato hornworm right now, but I can’t help it. This early-season venture into planting has left me feeling more than just negative in the singular sense. I’m doubly, maybe triply negative about it.

Instead of little, lovely leaves of lettuce, I have some scraggly little stalks of things that don’t resemble anything I’ve ever seen in the mesclun section of the store. I have a number of dead scraggly stalks, as well as a live stalk or four. But nothing lettuce-y, and certainly nothing edible.

I still have a bunch of these seeds which, if I ever believe the weather has warmed up for good, I will plant outside in the ground and see what happens. But I think I’m done trying to grow things in my house, at least for the moment.


16 Responses to “This is not a salad”

  1. 1 Dori April 3, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    This looks like my first experiment. My father in law owns Harvey Floral in Adel Iowa, check them out on the net. He told me that I did not have enough daylight for my experiment, which is why the long thin little plant is stretching so high. I started some butter crunch lettuce using my grow light and a timer next, then set them outside in a cold frame when they developed their third leaf…. however, last year I didn’t think to uncover the plastic from my cold frame and burned the successful little start of lettuce in a very short period of time on a 75 degree day. I also used some “grow dirt” to start them in.

  2. 2 Carol April 3, 2007 at 9:18 pm

    Genie… you can sow lettuce outside now. It doesn’t have to be warm for good. They will withstand some cold. I sowed mine outside on March 17th, and they are now tiny seedlings, but not all stretched trying to get enough light. Try again outside in a little spot of the garden, or someplace close to where you enter the house so you can keep an eye on them. What have you got to lose? You still have some seeds leftover!

  3. 3 inadvertentgardener April 3, 2007 at 9:59 pm

    Dori, I can totally buy the not-enough-light theory. I refuse to buy grow lights, and we don’t have good sun in our windows, unfortunately.

    But Carol, you’re probably right…maybe I ought to try a little sowing. I’ve got the room in the garden plot, and the worst case is that I’ll just plow everything under before I plant more things this summer…

  4. 4 kate April 4, 2007 at 9:31 am

    I’m sorry to hear that the lettuce did not meet with success. Without enough light and heat, the little seeds just don’t do well … if you ever try this again, then think of filling your pots a bit fuller with soil too … there will be more light that way.

    Thank you for your lovely welcome to the book club – I am looking forward to reading the next book!

  5. 5 the mint killer April 4, 2007 at 11:57 am

    ha! i kill mint. you kill lettuce. now we are even!

    but i was thinking that maybe i should send you a picture of the scraggedly daffodils and hyacinths i planted (yes, I planted!) that came up all noble and proud, only to be frozen stiff by this morning’s flurries. i tried to rescue them this morning, and clipped the flowers to bring them inside. now they are limp and dead in my kitchen. so much for spring!! although i do hear the local apple orchards are faring much worse and in a serious way too. this cold snap ain’t doing too much good for their fledgingly blossoms….

  6. 6 Sally April 4, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Genie – It’s just a bit too early to plant outside. Wait until the night time temperatures are consistently in the 40-50 degree range. The ground is too cold and will kill the seeds. Also, next time use growing mixture for your soil and do fill the pot up higher. I won’t buy grow lights either – which is why all my herbs are sitting on my north and west window sills. I do plan on planting lettuce seeds inside next fall/winter. Didn’t think of it in time this year. Never give up!

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener April 5, 2007 at 5:47 am

    Kate, I think I had the heat issue covered, but definitely not enough light.

    Sally, no worries — I won’t give up! But I do appreciate the consistent-temps-at-night advice — I’ll hang tight and give that a try.

    And Kate and Sally, thanks for the tip about filling the pot fuller to give the seedlings more light — good to know.

    Mint Killer, poor sad hyacinths and daffodils…that’s very pitiful! I hadn’t thought about the apple orchards…that’s not good news. I hope the cold snap gets outta here soon…

  8. 8 Ottawa Gardener April 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Oh yes, I had a batch of lettuce seedlings that I started waaaaaaaaaaaaay too early and though not leggy (we have good light sources (a requirement for buying the house, the estate agent was puzzled). Our front windows face south (ah south), they were stunted by not having enought leg room early enough in the year. Anyhow, I am only starting seedlings with an optimism range of plus or minus one week (two, well three at the very most). I had to compost them. Sigh. Anyhow, my seedlings started in a hoophouse under a winter blanket are looking quite healthy.

    Next year, I might try and winter sow some of them.

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener April 5, 2007 at 10:28 pm

    Ottawa Gardener, I’m glad you were able to puzzle the real estate agent! That’s like a new game or something… Glad the hoophouse seeds are going OK. I feel like I ought to try this winter sowing business…people keep telling me about it, and it sounds pretty straightforward, but I didn’t try it this year.

  10. 10 Adam Ham April 11, 2007 at 2:06 pm

    If you are not willing to buy a grow light, maybe you could build one, I was able to purchased all the supplies for about $50 dollars and building it is simple. ( has a good article about building a growlight under their “How to…” section.

  11. 11 onionman April 11, 2007 at 10:05 pm

    I’m going to throw in with those that
    won’t buy grow lights. I have sucess with
    just plain old shop lights but I do use the
    40w tubes. I start all my lettuce under lights.
    The trick is,as soon as the seeds sprout, put
    them under the light as close as you can. As they
    grow keep them close but not touching the light.
    Either raise the light or lower the plants
    I grow about 20 varieties of lettuce.
    I come by your place here all the time.
    I enjoy the goings-on. onionman

  12. 12 inadvertentgardener April 11, 2007 at 10:53 pm

    Adam Ham, thanks for the link to the homemade growlights — I’ll definitely check that out.

    Onionman, 20 varieties of lettuce? I’m very impressed…and jealous! I’d love to have that kind of variety. Thanks for sharing how you handle the grow-light situation.

    Thanks to both of you for visiting!

  13. 13 Led Grow Lights April 14, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    great post, We have been using LEDs to grow with our hydroponic system. Your blog was filled with great info!

  14. 14 inadvertentgardener April 20, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    LED Grow Lights, thanks for the comment!

  1. 1 Space-age tomato seedlings « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on April 5, 2007 at 10:14 am
  2. 2 Bible Versus and Gardens » This is not a salad The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on March 10, 2008 at 6:49 pm

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