06 February 2012

Transplanted Lettuce, February 3rd, 2012

Ahhh, now the lettuce can stretch its arms!

After we discussed the accidentally crowded conditions, some of the K2 children worked to transplant the crowded lettuces. Transplanting is another job that challenges the fine motor skills of the children. Often, over-eager fingers push and pull the small plants, causing the stems to break. Planting extra seeds compensates for these losses. Also, I find it works better for the adult helpers to prick out the seedlings from their original home, and lay them out on a damp paper towel in the shade where the children can pick them up one at a time.

Before they choose their seedling, however, the children take a slender stick and poke a hole in the soil deep enough for the root to slide right down. Then, with their slender stick, the children gently poke the soil around the plant to firmly support the seeding.

You can see that our lettuce seeds now have plenty of room to grow. If we only wanted to harvest young leaves for a lettuce mix, we could allow the plants to grow in these conditions, but, if we're looking to grow a full lettuce head, they'll need to be transplanted once again and given even more room to themselves.

I have wanted wooden seed start boxes for many years to enable us to move away from the brittle and disposable plastic cell packs. This year, the 3rd grade children are making me lots of boxes from an old fence one of the woodworking parents lives near. The boxes are roomy and just right to grow lots of seeds in a roomy manner.

Also, you can see our cold frame that we built two summers ago. It is made of untreated redwood and a sheet of plastic to create a hinged top. It gets quite warm in there so I always leave it open for ventilation (usually about 4 inches). However, this invites the slugs, too. Everyday I have to look in there to make sure I don't see any telltale slime trails.