Articles, Blog

Salad Table Gardening

December 23, 2019

This is John Traunfeld with the university
of Maryland extension here to show you how you can grow delicious salad
greens in a university of Maryland salad table and we’re going to show you
some of the simple steps. Planting, fertilizing, watering, thinning the plants to the correct
spacing and then harvesting with a pair of scissors. Fill your salad table with a 50 50 mixture
of compost with a lightweight growing mix. The growing mixer potting soil that you
purchase should not contain any actual soil. It will contain things
like peat Moss, coconut fiber, perlite or vermiculite and bark fines. Any all-purpose garden
fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium can be
used for salad table gardening. Liquid and dry fertilizers
are both fine to use, although the dry fertilizers
will last longer. The salad plants we’re going
to grow on the salad table. Actually a pretty heavy
feeders. Lettuce, arugula, mustard greens, they need a lot of
nutrients to grow well. So the mix, the growing mix that we fill the salad
table with, even if it has compost, won’t have enough nutrients. We need some fertilizer and I’ve got
two examples here. Cotton seed meal, which is about 6% nitrogen and another
general purpose dry organic fertilizer that is about 5% nitrogen,
which is very good. And for a table this size, we would use about one cup
of this dry fertilizer, either one for the table
each time we plant a crop. And you can either apply the fertilizer
before planting and just gently work it into the growing media or you can
fertilize after the plants have come up. We have a salad table here that’s
got three different sections planted differently, which is kind of interesting. On the right we have radishes
where the seed was broadcast. So we put the seed in our hand and we
just sprinkled it out onto the table and you could see the seeds just
germinated randomly in a nice pattern. And that’s a fun way to plant. The way a lot of folks like to plant a
salad table is in rows to make about four rows in each section
and a plant. The seeds, they’re usually planted pretty thickly
and then they’re thinned down to a spacing of one to two
inches between plants. We’ve gone ahead and made four shallow
furrows in one of the sections so that we can plant some lettuce seed.
I’ve got some light colored, a lettuce seed and a folded index card
to make it a little bit easier to plant. And what you do is just tap on that card
and the seeds come out fairly evenly and then we’re going to go ahead
and cover the seeds very lightly and water and we’ll wait
for them to germinate. The salad table is filled with a light, porous growing mix that includes
compost, peat moss, perlite. It’s going to need to be watered once
a day in order to keep plants growing rapidly and healthfully. So
you can see this salad table. The plants have not wilted.
They look very healthy, but it is starting to dry on top
and if we dig down a little bit, we can see there is moisture there,
but it is time to water. Once a day, each table will require about one gallon
of water and one of the best ways to water is with a watering wand that
has a water breaker on the end. Your very inexpensive plastic, it’ll make a nice soft spray
that won’t damage your plants. So we’re just going to move our wand
over the table nice and gently in a pattern. And again, it only takes
one gallon of water, so to do this entire salad table takes about 20 seconds, but you’ve got to do it once a day. Keep everything growing nicely. Here’s the university of Maryland salad
table that was sown about 10 days ago and now the, the lettuce and
the basil are coming up nicely, but you can see that it’s too thick. The planting is too thick and we need
to thin these plants out so that there’s about an inch of space
between each plant in the row. Some of that’s going to start,
it looks kind of brutal, but it’s very necessary just
to start pulling plants out. And the thinnings that we’re pulling out
actually would be excellent in a salad all we have to do is take them in and
get the dirt off, wash them really well. But we could certainly put these in a
salad and if we have room somewhere in another salad table or in the garden,
we could plant these little seedlings. They’re perfect, so we’re either
going to eat them, plant them, or put them in the compost
pile. They won’t go to waste. Then we’ve got this row of basil right
here that we’re going to want to thin and again, we just go in there with our
fingers and really be a little ruthless. It’s hurting you more
than it’s hurting them. We’re going to space the basil plants
about four or five inches apart so those plants can get larger. We want a lot of leaf with those basil
plants that we can use to make pesto or to pick off and use in salads or dishes. So you can see the spacing’s going to be
quite a bit wider because we want those plants to get larger. We’ll get lots of good leaf that
we can harvest from each plant. I’m here to show you a harvesting technique
for cutting salad greens from the university of Maryland salad table. We’ve got a nice table here with greens
that have reached the height of four or five inches and it’s time to harvest. So rather than pull each plant
down or just take the outer leaves, we’re going to take a nice pair of sharp
sheers and we’re going to actually cut each plant right at the soil line. This is a good technique because what
happens is after we cut the lettuce, it will regrow. This was planted
about four and a half weeks ago. This is the first cutting.
After we cut it at a regrow, we could cut it again in about
25 or 30 days. Two full crops, at least maybe a third crop. If we
do this in the spring of the year.

1 Comment

  • Reply Lisa Kuechler May 22, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    How did you make the table?

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