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Living Lettuce: A Life Cycle

Living Lettuce: A Life Cycle

You all know where your Riverview Gardens living lettuce ends up: in a delicious salad, or maybe as that perfect crunchy leaf on your favorite burger.

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But what happens before you pick up your package at Festival Foods or at the Free Market, ready to be purchased?

I decided to do some investigating and find out from Gil Shaw, director of hydroponics here at Riverview Gardens…

It all starts with a tiny seed…

That little brown dot is the tiny seed on the seed container lid!

That little brown dot is the tiny seed on the seed container lid!

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Each seed is put into a square of peat moss, called dibble. Each square of dibble goes into a tray that holds 192 squares. Right, Gil shows me a square of Dibble.

That is a lot of squares and seeds!
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After putting the seeds in the dibble trays, the trays are watered,
covered with clear plastic and left to grow.

A week later two leaves have sprouted.
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A week or two after that, the third leaf appears:
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At this point the lettuce plants have roots coming out the bottom of the trays, meaning that they are ready to be put into the pool.
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Young Lettuce plants in the pool underneath the purple grow lights

Young Lettuce plants in the pool underneath the purple grow lights

After several weeks the lettuces are transferred to the mature side of the pool, ready to be harvested.
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6 weeks after seeding, the lettuce is ready. Keeping the roots intact, the lettuce is placed inside its plastic case, ready to be enjoyed by individuals around the Fox Valley. Perhaps this very lettuce will be the one that you pick up next time you are shopping!
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