FYI: west coast, zone 8, pretty much a newbie.
I want to grow lettuce and maybe some other early cold-season crops this
year, but I'm a little unclear on how it goes. I've been told that lettuce
seeds need to be refrigerated for 24 hrs to "trigger" them, but I've also
been told that they should be started indoors. So, do I refrigerate them,
then put them in trays indoors until they sprout, then plant them outside?
Any limit on temp? Will frost kill lettuce seedlings? If so, how early can I
really do this? Will a frame-and-plastic-tarp setup help significantly?
I'm also interested in doing this for other early crops like maybe
rutabagas. Any others?
I'm in zone 9 (southern portion of the san joaquin valley)
I put lettuce seeds directly into the ground. I had to buy pony packs this
year as I got a late start.
Everything is doing good. We've already had a light frost.
No info about rutabagas.
UC Davis has a lot of information. they also have a great gardening book
just for CA. It's worth the $$
I have never had to refrigerate (stratify) lettuce to get it to
germinate. I used to sow seed directly but now the ants carry off so
much of the seed so that I start indoors under lights, then transplant.
I am also in Zone 9 (the AZ desert version) and lettuce does great in
the winter and takes our light frosts. Right now, it really looks nice.
I have transplants going and set them out continuously as the older
plants are used up. I have never checked the temperature for
germination but I expect it's around 70 degrees.
Rutabaga and most root vegetables do not transplant well and are best
grown by seeding directly in the ground.
as long as they spent some time in the freezer, you can start them
indoors or outdoors.
I plant them in september outdoors to overwinter under cover, in
february indoors for transplanting in april, and in april I seed them
outdoors. They all come up.
Seedlings are very frost resistant. In Zone 8 I am guessing that you
plant them outside in february.
Arugula maybe, and chard, which here in Michigan is ready in June.
These are my main spring crops. Many others like radishes. Peas are
more of an early summer crop here.
In Zone 7, I start my seeds indoors straight from the package under lights
three weeks before I want to set them out. The normal date for putting them
in the gardern is three weeks before the average last frost date.
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