We have moved back and forth between various seed starting methods for years. Sometimes we plant directly in the ground in the hoop house. Sometimes we go through the trouble of setting up grow lights and planting inside. We have used disposable pots, plastic cells, and soil blocks. When it comes right down to it, you need to get seed in the soil and provide an environment in which it can grow.
We have now progressed to boxes that Mike built for us from trees we cut down on our property. We fill these with dirt and plant in them. I do think about mini rows as we drop the seeds in place but other times, I just scatter. With lettuce, I just scatter the seeds in the box and lightly cover with more soil. This is so much simpler, but you must be careful not to break the roots as you separate the tiny plants.
What we are hoping for is a large germination rate that we can then transplant. This year, the ground is drowning. Everything is drowning. We have watched the area creeks swell and can see water still standing in the fields and it is still raining. We have the garden covered with silage tarps to kill weeds. I am hoping that some of the soil will not be so saturated that I cannot plant some lettuce in the rows.
The plan is to get the lettuce directly into raised beds that I can cover with Agribond and a layer of plastic if necessary. Some of the lettuce starts will go into the hoop house where we will follow the same procedure, but because of the hoop house we will have a 3rd layer. The hoop house will begin to get hot and we will need to continually transplant the lettuce outside under the row cover to keep it growing and not bolting.
On Monday, during a break in the rain, we planted more candy onion seeds, black simpson lettuce and salanova lettuce. If it wasn't pouring down rain today, I would be planting cabbage, broccoli and radishes, but that will need to wait until tomorrow.
The garlic and onions planted last fall look great, but weeds are appearing. Next year, I am going to purchase brown contractor's paper and plant into it. That way, it will deteriorate over the winter and spring. As we harvest the garlic in early summer, the paper will have faded into the soil ready for new paper to be added for summer and fall crops.