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Salad Tables 2.0

This is a good time of year for cleaning up tools, getting containers ready for starting plants, and maybe even building a Salad Table! The first University of Maryland salad tables were constructed at the Home & Garden Information Center in 2006. The idea for a waist-high raised container garden was based on a row of metal frames on legs I had seen at the edge of a woods at the Accokeek Foundation’s Ecosystem Farm. It was August and the shallow frames were filled with beautiful salad greens. I adapted the design to make it relatively easy and inexpensive to build.

The “University of Maryland Salad Table” carries a State of Maryland trademark for name recognition but was always intended to be an open-source gardening tool. It was popularized in a New York Times article by Anne Raver (a former UME master Gardener!), and by an appearance on the Martha Stewart Show. It has been built and used by gardeners of all ages and circumstances. Videos and building and growing instructions for Salad Tables and Salad Boxes are on the HGIC website.

Check out the many ways that people have adapted the Salad Table to improve performance and meet specific gardening needs. The Salad Table’s mobility and versatility make it a useful DIY climate change adaption tool for small-scale food production.

Arms and wheels

Locking casters allow for easy movement to capture more or less sunlight.

 

Adding “arms” eliminates the need for front wheels or casters.

 

Kid-sized

Give youth a green thumb by giving them a table that fits.

Deeper frames

Salad greens and green beans grow well in frames made from 2X4s or 2X6s. Stack them together for container-type tomato cultivars.

 

Cascading cherry tomato cultivars grow beautifully in 9-in. deep Salad Tables.

Self-watering

This popular design shared on the Instructables website uses plastic storage containers fitted with overflow pipes.

 

Self-watering containers eliminate the need for daily watering during warmer weather.

Season extension

Clear plastic and floating row covers help extend the season and exclude pests. You can easily install 1/2 inch or ¾ inch PVC bows to support covers.

Critter protection

Fellow Maryland Grows blogger Erica Smith uses this design to exclude birds, squirrels, and other animals.

Hydroponics

The University of Minnesota has experimented with multiple hydroponic designs as part of their Hydroponic Salad Table project.

Have you built or been using a unique or improved Salad Table? I’d love to hear about it. Send photos and a description to jont@umd.edu. Thanks!

 

By Jon Traunfeld, Director, Home & Garden Information Center

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