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September 24, 2011

Replanting Lettuce and Kale into the ground

I have seeded romaine lettuce and kale in containers about two weeks ago to get an early start. Now these seedlings are grown enough to be replanted into the garden.

This late in September you can seed all greens, including lettuce, kale, bok choy, mustard greens and collard greens, directly into the garden beds. But if you started some in containers, here's some tips on replanting them.

Prepare the bed by digging in remaining mulch and compost and raking the surface to smooth. Dig a hole deep enough to bury the whole plant so that only a few leaves are above the surface. This is very important. By no means replant the seedlings so that the stem is sticking above the ground. These young roots are not strong enough to support the weight of the plant, so you will end up with an undeveloped weak plant. The amount of space occupied by the roots shoud roughly equal the amount of space occupied by the leaves. If you plant too shallow, the top of the plant will be heavier than roots and will stunt the growth.

If in doubt, error on the side of planting deeper. Don't worry, the plant will grow a new healthy stem. Just bury up to the leaves. To take the plant out of the container, put the stem between your index and middle finger and turn the container upside down, then gently lower the plant with the soil that was in the container into the hole.

Lettuce spacing is about eight inches on center:

Kale spacing for the dwarf curly kale that I planted is about a foot. But if you are growing a regular, not dwarf variety, then spacing should be about 18 inches on center, just like broccoli.

Just like with any other transplants, water right after transplanting if the soil is not wet and keep watering to keep moist until established. Right now we are experiencing daily rains, so watering can be eased.

If you are seeding directly into the garden, mind the spacing requirements, and also plant two seeds per hole to limit bald spots. Even if both seeds germinate, you can snip the weaker one with scissors and use in your salad.


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