Do-over on the Lettuce!!

Do-over on the Lettuce!!

About six weeks ago, I excitedly pulled out my brand new stackable garden pots, my bags of dirt, and my garden hose. I had been very picky in choosing what I was going to plant. I have 10 pots total. After hemming and hawing over my seed collection, I chose eight varieties of lettuce, one of spinach, and baby Bok Choy. I’ve never grown Bok Choy before so I planted that for fun after finding seeds for a miniature variety online.

Mason was sitting with me outside, and helped. We read each packet, used just the right amount of dirt, and watered everything with a spritz bottle (to not float the seeds). All we had to do next was position them in the basement under the grow lights.

Now, I’d been growing tomatoes, green beans, peas, and a few other goodies under grow lights all winter with no troubles. We have literally had tomatoes growing and ripening all winter long! The difference between those and the seedlings was that the other plants were already mature before winter. We simply moved those pots indoors. The seedlings were, of course…just seedlings.

They germinated right away. I carefully checked on them daily, spritzing them with water, and lovingly watching them grow and grow. The problem was each plant only had two leaves at the top and very long stems. No other leaves came out but the stems kept growing!

Pretty soon, they all started flopping over. What the heck?? I was absolutely befuddled and, I admit, pretty depressed. I went through my mental checklist.

  1. Water? Check!
  2. Good dirt? Check! (I’d used the same kind last year and it was great!)
  3. Fertilizer? Check! (I inserted the spikes in the dirt, just like last year.)

The ONLY difference between last year’s seedlings and this year’s was that these were started indoors. Last year, we didn’t move in until after the growing season had already begun so they were all started outdoors on the porch.

So, I pulled up YouTube and it didn’t take me long to figure out what had gone wrong.

Here’s what I learned:

1. Seedlings with long stems are called “leggy.”
2. They get “leggy” because they don’t have enough light. They reach and reach, but can’t get enough.
3. I was using the right kinds of lights but…
4. They were supposed to be positioned only two inches above seedlings.


So, last weekend, I begrudgingly pulled up all of my seedlings (sniff!!), put them in a bowl for salad, used a shovel to turn the dirt over in each pot, and started my planting all over again. This time, the seedlings are in the greenhouse (something I didn’t yet have when the first batch was planted). Here’s the bad news. It’s been cloudy here all week long! I hope the sun comes out soon so my new batch won’t get “leggy” as well. It’s supposed to dip below freezing in a couple of days, but only at night. I’ll have to bring them in that night and I’ll make sure the grow lights are ONLY 2 INCHES above the seedlings.

I sure am learning a lot!!

Brian is almost finished building our extra raised beds and we have a truckload of good garden dirt (called “Black Gold”) being delivered on Monday. That last big project will be building the garden fence to keep deer and rabbit out of OUR food. We feed the deer elsewhere on the property but that sure won’t stop them from coming after our fresh goodies! And, we have TONS of rabbits here.

As of last weekend, the local community garden now has 20 beds thanks to the men in our church (including Brian). We are starting seedlings for that this weekend, too.

And, finally, the grandbabies are coming this weekend and Mackenzie (age 2) is going to help me plant some seed potatoes (in containers) and some beet seedlings. Jack previously helped me “plant” an herb garden in the kitchen. It’s doing so great that he’s going to have to help me trim and dry several of the herbs this weekend.

It’s going to be such a fun weekend!! I can’t WAIT!! 🙂


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