Yesterday was a long day of prepping the rice for planting. We used our isshou masu a while back to measure our rice seeds, and yesterday we measured those into the trays that we will later load into the robot tractor for planting in the field.
You recall that isshou is 1.8 liters, and that we measured 2 of those into most of our mesh bags for germination. That’s because we line the trays up in sets of 10 for seed spreading, and 2 shou is just the right amount of seed for 10 trays.
We line these trays are with vinyl sheets to prevent the shoots’ roots from growing through the drainage holes, and then put in a layer of sprouting dirt and level it off. Once the trays are lined up, we use a small hopper that distributes the rice seed, fill in any empty areas by hand, and then use another hopper to put a layer of dirt over the top. We give each layer a good soak, which makes the whole thing very heavy–I think we could just as easily soak them after we transfer them!
Over in the garden we use the tractor to flatten out a good area of land, then scrape it by hand with a board to make sure it’s as level as possible. A bottom sheet of vinyl goes down, then the rice trays, a layer of black mulch which you can see on the middle row, and finally a heavy silver vinyl sheet makes a tunnel. It was quite windy yesterday, so wrestling with all the sheets was a real chore. We were quite proud and exhausted when we finished. In all it was about 6 hours of work for me and 4 for my mother-in-law.
So where will this all go? 2 shou of rice seeds is enough for 10 trays, and 20 trays will plant one ‘tan’, which is almost exactly 1,000 square meters. It’s interesting (or maybe not) that the term ‘tan’ is still in popular use, while 1/10 of a tan is called an ‘are’, (pronounced a-ru) which is the actual metric measurement that the hectare is based on.
The long tunnels each hold 30 trays and the short one has 18. The long tunnel on the left has a variety called Milky Princess, and the middle and right have Milky Queen. They’re very similar to each other, but unique around here as most people use Koshinohikari or other more popular strains. Everyone loves the rice at the restaurant, so I guess that’s proof enough to keep doing what we’re doing.