I sometimes forget the prevailing notions people have related to growing food. The most common mental images seem to center around long hours of back breaking labor spent tilling, planting, hoeing and weeding.
I am quickly reminded of the current thinking when I breezily say things like, “I planted 288 spinach plants today and need to do the same for lettuce tomorrow.” and the person I am speaking with gapes in horror at the perceived amount of time and effort that goes into it. But the chasm between what they are thinking and what I actually did is as big as the Grand Canyon. We are operating under two VERY different paradigms when it comes to growing food…
Depending on the agricultural model used, growing food can be relatively low-labor and the little time and money spent in the garden is subtracted directly from the time and money that would otherwise be spent driving to the grocery store, finding produce that is less nutritious and fresh, waiting in the checkout line to pay and then driving home on a daily or weekly basis.
This morning I planted 36 Red Romaine lettuces and the whole process took about 20 minutes. I started with a homemade plant spacing tool made from plywood, cheap cabinet handles and recycled wine corks:
Next I shook out some seed into my palm and placed 2 per divot. I normally have really good germination rates with the Baker Creek lettuce seeds, but these are last year’s seeds so I did 2 to be safe. This was the most time intensive part of the whole operation but not what I would call laborious.
Yes there will be some watering throughout the season and yes, I do get an occasional volunteer plant that needs to be plucked out of my garden beds, but those are minor things, easily taken care of when I head out to my backyard grocery store each night and look around to see what’s for dinner.