Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend Project

While waiting for the reputed 80 degree weather that was supposed to arrive by the end of the week, we spent some time building our Salad Bar. This is a perfectly utilitarian design, but looks so bountiful when filled with salad greens, herbs, and other shallow rooted edible plants. We hemmed and hawed about building it, but when the weather started turning and we realized the tulips were going to be holding down valuable real estate for a few more weeks, the need for another container became clear. It is a simple plan, but always measure twice, cut once. Since our 2x4's were pretty clean and straight it took less than ten minutes to have all of our pieces cut and laid out. We put a light coat of sealant on the wood, as per recommendation, to prevent mildewing or rotting wood. Our sealant, once cured, is not supposed to leach into the soil. Very important. We used two wood screws in the corners, and only one on the cross beams. In a moment of Danish over-engineering, we applied quite a few staples to the screen in the corners, even though the wire mesh will help to hold the screen in place. With mesh and roofing nails in place, it was time to get some soil in place and hope for the best weather possible.

Another easy planter we have been using comes from my job in the fine wine industry. Many producers still utilize wooden cases, and these are sturdy, attractive, and are nice for their ability to eventually break down and decompose. Drilling 1/2 inch drainage holes in the bottom of the boxes prevent soggy roots and can even allow deeper root growth when placed on bare soil. While we are not even close to what one would call professional gardeners, we have always had good success with these boxes, yielding plenty of potatoes, carrots and whatever else we felt the need to grow. Plus it is fun to see potato shoots popping up where four hundred dollar bottles of wine once were.

I started our greens, tomatoes, peppers and carrots in a few small greenhouse trays in our apartment. The greens are cold weather friendly and grow much faster than the toms and peppers. It is always fun to grow your own food and to start to see nearly immediate reward.It is also funny how folks perk up when you mention even the mere potential of having fresh tomatoes and peppers. This morning I ran into Mary, out mail carrier, and she was already staking out a claim on any excess tomatoes. Even if only half of our plants start to produce, there will be plenty to go around! Come on sun!

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