I decided to combine: 1) a test of old lettuce seed germination with, 2) getting a new greenhouse crop of lettuce going. I hate the thought of wasting seed just to check viability, but I didn’t want to use a lot of pots when uncertain of germination rates either. So, I went with the method of planting a lot of seeds in one tray filled with soil.
It will mean some transplanting, if I want any of the lettuces to get larger … assuming they sprout. It is space and time efficient now, though. There are actually two trays. The one with the soil directly in it is one of the more flexible black trays, with drainage holes in the bottom. In order to avoid those leaking through to any grow lights beneath, another solid tray is underneath. I can remove that as needed, when I want to let the top tray drain (somewhere other than on the grow light stand).
I am testing 8 different seed packets. The dates on the packages are anywhere from 2008 to 2011. If they sprout it will be a pretty picture of reds and greens, ruffles and lapels. One package of seeds was pelleted. I wonder if the pellet material changes with time? (I didn’t use every package in the photo, so, yes, I can count.) 🙂
When I started the Tom Thumb lettuce, there were only a couple of sporadic sprouts in the warming cupboard, where many of my seeds like to sprout. But I rarely start lettuce seeds in pots. Once moved to the cooler greenhouse, however, the lettuce seeds all sprouted in a few days. The timing of it made it seem like they preferred the cool temperatures. I know lettuce is one of the first things to sprout in the spring, but I had thought it might be too cool just in the greenhouse. Apparently not.
So, this time around, I am just starting the seeds in the greenhouse, which has been about 60 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit. They will get a small amount of heat from the lights. I wanted them to be close to the light, since I might as well take advantage of it being there.
It was a mind-bender for my flu-ridden brain to decide how to label the tray with 8 kinds of seed in it. There are 4 rows, but half a row for each kind of lettuce. A little masking tape, 2 pieces to each side of the tray, seemed like it would help me keep track of things. The craft sticks are what I normally use, but I realized after I had put them in that I wanted the trays closer to the light. I wrote down the name of the lettuce and what year the seed was from. I still have all the packets, so I can refer to them for other details. (The sticks were recycled from last year, no celery is in the tray.)
Now, the multicultural lettuce tray sits non-judgmentally next to the tray of midget lettuces. I can observe them all at my leisure and with ease. I tasted a leaf of the Tom Thumb today and some of it may be destined for tacos this weekend. Hopefully, the next generation of lettuces will come along soon.