Manage stress to seedlings + your body while repetitive transplanting

Growing lettuce in a high rainfall climate presents challenges of bottom rot and dirty lettuce after heavy rainfall. Our new greenhouse has given us many new benefits, including growing lettuce in a more controlled climate.

The greenhouse site was pasture, 12 months ago and has huge weed pressure, so for the first time, we have been using weed mat or landscape fabric for all transplanted crops with drip line irrigation underneath. The weed mat keeps the crop very clean. We do spend a little time weeding in the propagation house before transplanting and before the lettuce sizes up, this makes for a clean product on harvest day.

With transplanting into the greenhouse, there is no need for a hardening-off period, instead plants go from the propagation house directly. We are able to produce lettuce like this year round and have consistent clean production.

We are growing lettuce on three rows in summer when neighbouring crops are much larger and four rows in winter to maximise indoor growing space. Plant spacing is 23 cm. We use a 60 cell propagation tray to grow our pelleted lettuce seed and transplant when the roots appear at the bottom of the tray.

After removing all plants from the trays I transplant the lettuces, moving forwards, pressing the garden soil sideways against the root ball of the plant.
To care for my back I focus on changing positions while transplanting. I shift from straddling the bed to drop-knee on the the path and use this opportunity to stretch. It then becomes enjoyable and beneficial for my body.

We are growing cut-and-come-again varieties which give us two cuts to contribute to our ‘Leaves & Shoots’ salad mix. This is a combination of lettuce, baby Mizuna and radish microgreens.

We make better income from cutting the lettuce than from head lettuce and sales are also stronger. We mainly grow head lettuce in winter. We wish we had a stronger market.

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