Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Table of Many Uses

I really wanted to share some of my experiences from last week with you tonight. But I feel like I have been rushing around ever since I stepped through my front door, that I haven't had enough time to dedicate to that story, at least to give it the justice it deserves :-).

So instead, I must share my newest project: a lettuce table! When I first saw the idea on the agricultural website for the University of Maryland, I couldn't wait to build one of my own. The idea and plans are simple; a table with a meshed bottom, filled with potting soil and salad seed, sitting just outside your back door at waist height. What could be better than fresh home-grown salads just outside your door with no back bending required?! Needless to say, this was an idea I wanted to try out for myself!

The official plans can be found in the original article but I decided to take the general idea and adapt it to my needs and what supplies I had available. This is what I came up with:
A rectangular bed (40" x 30" x 6" (LxWxD)) sitting atop four legs about 2 3/4' off the ground...making it approximately waist height for me.  
Here's what I did:
I used some old pine wood we had in the burn pile. It was from old pallets and still had the bark on the outside. I decided I wanted a table with a rustic look, so this wood was perfect! I cut each board to length before I started.
 After making all of the necessary cuts, I began to assemble the box. I first laid it out on the floor to get the boards just the way I wanted them. Then I began to attach them. I used square head wood screws (I find the square and star head screws are less likely to strip when you screw them into wood...and most other mediums as well) and attached the four sides and the middle support.

 After the box was completed, I attached the four legs. One in each corner, and to provide additional support, I placed cross beams between the side and hind legs.

  Now that I had the basic table, I needed to create a bottom - something to actually hold my soil yet provide adequate drainage for my delicate plants.

 Chicken wire or basic wire mesh is perfect for this. I purchased a roll of it at my local hardware store for around $10 (it was enough for this project with a little left-over for another use). I stapled it to the base of the frame (making sure to cut out room for each of the leg posts) and made sure it was secure and strong. After that, a layer of gardening fabric or weed-barrier fabric will be placed on top. This will allow the soil to drain without falling through.

Weather permitting, in the next few weeks I will fill this box with general potting soil combined with a bit of my nutritious garden soil and begin planting my salad garden!

One of the beautiful things about this table is the fact that you can move it as the seasons change. Lettuces like shade. So in the spring, I will place it just out my back door where it will get the perfect sun/shade ratio. But as summer approaches, I will move it to the front porch were it will receive the morning light but be protected from the intense afternoon sun.

I'm excited to use this new table! I think it will be a lot of fun and will hopefully prove to be quite useful. Most of all though, I'm just excited to get out into my garden again!

What things have you been doing in your garden so far? What do you think of this idea? Have you tried it for yourself already? Please share any thoughts...learning and experimenting is half the fun!



  1. You are an inspiration! I need to take some lessons from you on how to build stuff. I want one of these tables! I think it would be so fun!

    1. Thanks! I'm looking forward to using it this year! I think it is definitely something you could build and enjoy all year round! I hope you do! :)