This is another installment about growing vegetables in containers. Click on Gardening Tutorials to see more in the series.
People who are familiar with restaurant lingo will know that ordering something ‘on wheels’ means you’re taking it with you, the same as ordering it ‘to go’. I decided it’s also a good way to describe the lettuce and salad greens I plant in my salad boxes, because they are portable and can be moved wherever you like, even if they don’t actually have wheels on them.
I made several portable salad boxes last year, and they have gotten a lot of use in a short period of time. You can read detailed instructions about how I made them in two different sizes: big salad boxes and mini salad boxes. These boxes take advantage of the fact that most salad greens are quick growing plants with shallow root systems. They are especially suited to the ‘cut and come again’ method of growing greens, where you harvest the leaves with a pair of scissors, leaving the plants to grow successive crops of greens.
This fall I find myself with about 5 flats of salad greens and Asian greens that need a good home. I planted two cold frame beds with them here at HA earlier in the month, and we planted two 30 foot rows of them at the Impact Community Garden last week, and I still have plants leftover. I always hang on to a few as spares, in case we lose a few early on, but I don’t really need 250 spares! Some of them will find a home in the greenhouse beds, as soon as I get them cleaned out and refreshed with some compost. But I decided I would also put some to use in the salad boxes, where the large seedlings will be ready for harvesting in no time.
Actually, some of the plants could be harvested now for baby salad greens. I thought about doing just that, and harvesting them straight from the flats before they were even planted. I’ve done that before. After all, it doesn’t really matter where they’re growing! But I decided it would be better if I put some of them in a salad box, since I had some empty boxes that weren’t in use. I planted the mini salad box in the below photo with a mix of lettuces, Red Choi and mizuna. I would have added arugula to the mix, but I already have a salad box devoted to it alone. I use a mix of potting soil and compost as a growing medium for these boxes. I’ll give them a drink of fish emulsion fertilizer after planting, and they will be off and growing.
Due to our ravenous herd of deer that roams the gardens at night, I will have to keep these protected inside the greenhouse on the benches. I’ve been fighting a whitefly explosion in the greenhouse this summer, but I believe they are mostly under control now. At any rate, I should be harvesting the first salad greens from this planting in about a week or so. And with any luck I will get two or three nice cuttings total before the plants are exhausted, which is not bad for plants that might otherwise have wound up on the compost pile!