Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Box Salad Garden

I learned a new skill last evening. I learned how to use tin snips and a staple gun. It's about time. Every woman should know how to use a staple gun.

I had a project in mind for several weeks now. This project needed tin snips and a staple gun. A bit removed from my usual wooden spoons, pots & pans or sewing machine & thread.

You might remember I had started some romaine lettuce inside a few weeks ago. Last year I tried to make a portable lettuce garden in an old enamel pan. It didn't work very well. The soil was too dense and there were no drain holes and the weeds from the soil took over.

So when I saw THIS in the April-May 2008 issue of Mary Janes Farm magazine,

I was thrilled and finally had a design that would work. I had to order some of the supplies from my hometown hardware store. They came in yesterday.

So after I got home from buying more plants (herbs, sweet potatoes, hydrangea, coreopsis and dianthus), I grabbed my camera and gathered my supplies and found a (semi-) sheltered spot from the wind and made myself a Box Salad Garden.

First, I gathered the supplies:

Hardware Cloth, Fiberglass screening, Gloves (very important), a tape measure, tin snips and a staple gun.

I did not build these stands. I'm not that handy. (I will paint them a better color later. Yuck!)

I had gotten these 2 sturdy wooden stands at an auction last fall but really wasn't sure what they were for. I had the idea of making this kind of garden using some kind of rubber totes for holding the plants but I couldn't find any the right size.

I wonder if there were liners for these stands but in the midst of cleaning up the auction debris maybe they were thrown away. I know Farmer-dear wondered what I was going to do with them. But then he often wonders what I'm doing.... **laughing**

Back to the construction...

After gathering the supplies, I measured the tops for the hardware cloth.

I added an extra 2" to each side for "ease."

Then I donned my gloves.

I love my gloves. They are the first pair I've found that fit well and have the suede protection on the palm side. You'll see why this is important in a minute.

I measured the hardware cloth and marked my cutting point.

See why gloves are important? Sharp, pokey ends!

Keep cutting.

And now we're ready to attach it to the bottom of the box bed.

I used the good old staple gun to staple it to the underside of the top.

Being careful to fold the edges over so the soil would stay in when I fill it and to give the cloth more holding power.

Here is the completed bottom:

Notice the folded over pieces on the legs. That was an interesting development & design change. lol I suppose a master carpenter would have measured each leg and cut the cloth to take them into account. But I'm not a master carpenter and this worked.

I turned it right side up and measured the individual openings. I cut the screening with scissors and laid the screening over the hardware cloth.

(there are those darn leg corners again....)

Both sides are ready for the potting soil and planting.

I just used the potting soil I had for my flower pots. It has the fertilizer in it so I won't have to add more like the article recommended.

I watered it down a little and made some pilot holes for the plants.

I had grown my lettuce starts in a 18-ct egg carton (cardboard). I knew the carton would disappear after planting.
First 2 baby plants in the bed. You can just see the carton around them.

Here's what they looked like cut apart:

See, their roots are coming through the bottom. They were ready to be transplanted.

After all eighteen were planted, it looked like this:

(ignore the scraggly grass under the box .... you'd think someone would trim around here. sheesh!)

While I was working on this project, I had some company...

And knowing my barn cats & their idea of the perfect "potty" is anywhere I don't want them to go, I figured they'd find my new beds and that pretty clean potting soil. So I had to cover my boxes with some ugly old wire fencing.

This photo was taken this afternoon. The baby lettuce survived a windy night. I have the boxes against the east side of the bathroom, where it's sheltered from the hot southwest wind and will get some afternoon shade during the summer. It will still get morning sun, so I should have lettuce all summer.

The other box was lined and filled with soil too but I'll be planting it directly with seeds....after the wind dies down. Right now I'd be broadcasting the seeds everywhere except in the planting box.

Now, go out and plant something! It doesn't have to be this elaborate. Get a big flower pot, (or a small one) and plant a patio garden or a single sunflower. Find some herb plants and pot them up. Or be wild and courageous and plow up the back yard and put in 2 dozen tomato plants!
It's SPRING and it's time to play in the dirt.

Let me know what you are planting or if you have any questions.

PS next time.... the potato bed!

** "In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."
~~Margaret Atwood


  1. How cool! I'll be watching for the salad later.

  2. You did a wonderful job ! This year - Adam will plant his pumpkins again since he had such wonderful luck with them last year. I, on the other hand, am going to grow my salads on my porch - check out this DIY project -

  3. Jerzy-- very cool! I may try that for my zucchini. They always get squash bugs but maybe this will deter them.
    I wonder if bush cucumbers would work in it too?
    Can't wait to see Adam's pumpkins this fall. Be sure to take photos of them/him and your porch garden too.

  4. What a great idea........when I come, I'll bring the salad dressing okay?

  5. I'm way proud of ya. You're made of hardy pioneer stock, me friend. Wonder if they had ranch dressing in those days?

  6. My hearty pioneer friends, Kay and Miss Joizee. Wondering about ranch dressing in those days? Good job ladies!

  7. Maybe dressings made on a ranch? LOL

    Lots of offers to come for salad w/ dressing (ranch or not), but not too many offers to come help me weed. hmmmmmmm~~~


  8. This is a great idea. Thanks for showing us how you did it. I'll have to start reading Mary Jane. Linda