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how to keep lettuce seedlings watered?

 
Gilbert Fritz
Posts: 1203
Location: Denver, CO
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I am planting a sheet mulch bed with lettuce in a greenhouse. This is part of a community farming operation. Unfortunately, we will not be able to water the lettuce every day. The high humidity in the greenhouse and the floating row cover over the beds should help to keep evaporation lower than usual in Colorado. The sheet mulch beds should store lots of water. Still, lettuce has to be planted near the surface.

Would laying cheese cloth or paper towels an inch below the surface, and putting the free ends in a container of water help? If I used cheese cloth I could lay it on the surface.

Do seed balls work for lettuce? I know they need light, but would just a thin coating of clay help?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1976
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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Your idea about using the capillary action of the cheesecloth is interesting. Are you saying you'd set the ends of the cheesecloth in dishes of water? It's worth a try.

I wouldn't use paper towels. They fall apart and are usually bleached.

During germination the seeds must stay moist but will have a little resilience one they are established.

If you try the cheesecloth idea I'd love to hear how it goes and see photos.
 
Tim Malacarne
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Location: South central Illinois, USA
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That's an interesting concept! I wonder about drip irrigation?
 
Gilbert Fritz
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I should have mentioned that we have no drip irrigation, and currently no way to set one up. We have to make do with what we have, at least for the next few months.

Yes, I was thinking of putting the ends of the cheesecloth into containers of water. I am thinking that I will have to cover any of the cheesecloth which is not either in the water or in the soil with plastic, to keep it from having the opposite effect.
 
Brett Andrzejewski
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Location: Buffalo, NY
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I'm not so certain for seedlings. My farmer friend has two hoop-houses with lettuce that he uses to grow year round. The lettuce is in the ground competing/sharing with tree roots and other plant roots. I think that the tree roots actually bring water up from the water table, yet the tree roots like the warmth and nutrients of the hoop-house. He rarely waters the hoop-house.

I've used water bottles with nylon rope wick for helping plants get established. I buried the rope wick at the base of the plant, made a little loop. I would fill the bottle (1 liter) with pure water (no chlorine or salt) and after 3 days refill. The grape plants seemed to like it. During the drought conditions we had (in NM) they were putting on new leaves and growth.

The plastic bottles were empty juice bottles, the nylon rope $5 from Lowes. I drilled a hole in the top of the juice bottle lid, put the rope through, put a knot in the rope and pulled tight. I put another knot on the other side of the juice bottle top. This prevented fast leaking of the water from the bottle. I keep the bottle on its side for increased wicking rate.
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