Less is more. Especially when it comes to planting lettuces and leafy greens. Every year, I make the same mistake, though, when planting the arugula, mizuna and tatsoi. I plant hundreds of seeds when I should be planting dozens. The tiny seeds fool me into thinking I need more, and sprinkle as many as 50 seeds per inch. To give you a little perspective, I used a 1/2 teaspoon measure for the arugula seeds in this photo:
When they begin to sprout into a bushy shag of leaves, I start trimming. The roots crave room to grow, and when they’re crowded, the plants’ growth is stunted. Last year, I ruthlessly thinned the lettuces to one sprout per 1 or 2 inches. And I was reward with large, prolific plants. For some reason this year, I still planted the seeds too densely. So this morning I headed out to the garden to start snipping away. This is not a particularly pleasant task. With sharp scissors, I cut the stem below all the leafy sprouts. I carefully leave the strongest sprout. With stems growing within millimeters of each other, I must be careful to not accidentally cut too much, nor to disturb the roots of the remaining plants. The plants I thinned last week are already rewarding me for the breathing room. I should have my first garden salad within a week. If you’re good, like Susy at Chiot’s Run, you will save all the sprouts for a small salad.