Gardeners are always looking for new ways to fit more plants into their lives, and University of Maryland agricultural extension agent Jon Traunfeld is no exception. Not only does his portable salad table allow people to grow greens wherever they live, it is also easy to build and transport. That means it can be moved into a protected area when necessary to extend the growing season as long as possible. By growing cut-and-come-again crops of spinach, lettuce, and other leafy greens, and the occasional reseeding of this small table garden, you can make sure you and your loved ones get their daily greens for months on end. The tray can be set up on sawhorses, so that caring for and harvesting it can be done without constant bending—which is especially nice at the end of a long day of work in the perennial garden.
Jon has also built customized forms of this table for growing tomatoes and cucumbers in sizes that are suited to any space. This version is 58 inches long by 33 inches wide, with a 3½-inch depth perfectly suited to growing lettuce.
The table is a simple frame with a mesh base to hold soil but allow water to drain off, allowing lettuce to thrive in the conditions it loves. Because the crops harvested will be eaten, use untreated framing lumber.
2 untreated 2"x4"x10'
#2 galvanized Phillips screws, 3" long
3'x5' piece of aluminum window screening
3'x5' piece of 1⁄2" mesh hardware cloth
Sawhorses on which to set finished table
1. Using a miter saw, cut two 58" lengths out of one 10' 2x4 to make the long sides of the tray. Cut four 30" lengths from the other 10' 2x4 to serve as crosspieces.
2. Using 3" galvanized screws, attach the 58" long sides to the 30" crosspieces, predrilling holes to avoid splitting wood. The 2 interior crosspieces are attached 183⁄4" from each end of the long piece, to create 3 equal planting sections.