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Pictures of a quick and dirty sheet mulch lettuce bed  RSS feed

 
Travis Philp
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So I'm new to posting pictures and not sure if this'll turn out but here goes...

Pic 1) After soaking the ground, we placed leaf bags on the ground and gave those a watering

Pic 2) Approximately 6-8 inches of leaves comprised the next layer. These were sprayed with the hose once ever 2 inches was placed

A tip: Making a cardboard cut-out template of your keyhole path can make for quicker bed construction and accurate measurement of path and bed width.

Pic 3) Approximately 2-3 inches of well aged horse manure was placed on top and raked smooth. wood ash was then sprinkled sparingly, and the layer was watered well

Pic 4) A  1/2 inch thin layer of maple woodchips was added as a top mulch. Then cardboard was laid out on the main path, and a light covering of pine chips was thrown down on top.

Final Step (No corresponding picture)- tiny  shallow trenches (approx. 1/2 inch down) were made through the woodchips using a stick. Seeds were planted, and then a light covering of soil was placed on top and then watered.

I will have pictures of the leaf growth soon. The germination rate was good overall but a bit spotty in some places. The growth rate was good until a hail came in. The lettuce is holding its own though.
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Brenda Groth
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interesting..can't wait to see it growing
 
Travis Philp
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So its been a month since I planted the lettuce, and here is a picture I took today. Keep in mind that this lettuce was hailed on, which I would think has set back its growth some.

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Rob Sigg
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Looks good man. I am amazed of how well lettuce grows in many types of soils. I threw my seeds in a bed of leaves and grass, and viola they are growing nicely.
 
                                                    
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yeah! it does look good. if i was you i would relentlessly thin and make yourself a salad.
keep the best looking ones in the ground. my experience is if you don't they will stunt each other and you will have a lot of really small lettuce. i think ideal spacing is about every nine inches in a hexagonal pattern.
just my two cents
 
Travis Philp
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blitz1976 wrote:
Looks good man. I am amazed of how well lettuce grows in many types of soils. I threw my seeds in a bed of leaves and grass, and viola they are growing nicely.


Could you describe this bed of leaves and grass please? Sounds even simpler than what I tried. Did you literally just throw seeds into a mulch pile of leaves and grass?
 
Travis Philp
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radicaldecomposer wrote:
if i was you i would relentlessly thin and make yourself a salad.
keep the best looking ones in the ground.


Thanks for the tip. I will be doing some thinning soon, now that they are worth thinning. We'll see how things progress...
 
Rob Sigg
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Travis Philp wrote:
Thanks for the tip. I will be doing some thinning soon, now that they are worth thinning. We'll see how things progress...


Sure thing. Since I have a brand new lot with just hard clay I didnt have much of a choice but to throw stuff together. The entire bed was many layers but the top portion where the seeds were dropped was just simply composted leaves(crumbly and rich) not just dry or damp leaves which I suspect is very important for the seeds to root into. The grass clippings were mixed in for the nitrogen aspect of it. I basically put them together with twigs and raked it together. This also worked rather well for my radishes and onions too. My carrots and some herbs didn’t seem to like this as much so I had to use a potting mix with them like in Toby’s book. I hope that helps.
 
Travis Philp
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So I think its about time I updated on how the lettuce bed is doing. The bed has performed quite well, though it was slow to start due to hail and crowded germination.

I've had about 6 or 7 harvests from the lettuce and it is just now at the point where it needs to be ripped out due to much of the patch finally becoming bitter. The look of the lettuce is still fine save for a few bits here and there that the slugs have mangled.

We only had to weed the bed two or three times, in the last 3 months, and even there was hardly any weeds to speak of.

I would recommend to anyone growing lettuce, to give this a try if you've got the materials handy.

Below is a pic of the lettuce. I think this is taken after 1 or 2 harvests
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Travis Philp
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radicaldecomposer wrote:
yeah! it does look good. if i was you i would relentlessly thin and make yourself a salad.
keep the best looking ones in the ground. my experience is if you don't they will stunt each other and you will have a lot of really small lettuce. i think ideal spacing is about every nine inches in a hexagonal pattern.


I planted this for cut-and-come-again lettuce. I think you're thinking of individual heads? Anyhow, I did do a bit of thinning but not much, and even though the rows were often 3-5 plants wide, they still grew quite well, though maybe a bit slower than usual. I was harvesting every two weeks and then at the peak it was once a week.

Cut-and-come-again may not be very 'permaculture' to some but if its grown in a permanent no-till bed, I only have to weed 2-3 times a year, and only have to plant twice a year, I'd say its permie enough for me until I get enough money to start planting forest gardens chock full of perennials. Right now I'm doing a farmers market nearby and there are too many other veggie producers doing the standard grocery store variety of veggies. However, no one is doing lettuce this way, andthe guy selling head lettuce next to me wasn't doing many sales even before my stuff was ready. Neurotic ramble over.
 
                    
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This is a wonderful idea & I love the pictures, Thanks for sharing.
I'm going to try this next season!
 
Travis Philp
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Its great having keyholes for this type of lettuce harvesting. I've done cut-and-come again lettuce in standard straight beds before and you have to do a lot more moving from side to side which wears a lot more on the knees and back.

One thing I would've done differently was to make the keyhole paths wide enough to sit cross legged for more comfortable harvesting.
 
Joel Hollingsworth
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Travis Philp wrote:Cut-and-come-again may not be very 'permaculture' to some


Permaculture is the context in which I've most often heard cut-and-come-again discussed, maybe by a factor of 5.

Sounds like a great system: leafmold plus grass clippings is far-and-away the most sustainable starter soil I've heard of.
 
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