“Lettuce” hasn’t been slang for money in the U.S. for a long time, but I’m still feeling pretty rich after I saw all the lettuce that has been planted at Upper Meadows Farm.
Eleven different kinds of lettuce are being planted this year, in beautiful, long rows interspersed with scallions. And it takes an incredible amount of work to do that planting. Tiny seeds have to be put in tiny cubes of potting soil, and when they sprout, be moved to the greenhouse. There, the cubes that didn’t sprout are taken out and replaced, so that each tray holds exactly 72 plants.
Outside, the cows have been allowed to munch their way through the vegetation that had sprouted on what I seem to recall was last year’s zucchini patch. The ground is lightly tilled, and any weeds that sprout dispatched with a flameweeder. The rows are marked, and each row is covered with a layer of compost.
On planting day, the crew brings the flats outside and starts digging. They block out a diagonal line across each row and dig holes for four plants in it. Then, one by one, four plants are popped out and gently set in their holes, and four times the compost must be gathered back in around the plant. How long does it all take? Maybe one minute per plant. That doesn’t sound like much, until you multiple one minute times the 72 plants in the tray and again by the number of trays in the greenhouse.
And that’s just for the lettuce.