Most years I look at the calendar and say: “I should have started the salad greens two or three weeks ago.” This year I took all of the potential seed packets, picked the things we were most excited about (or the oldest packets regardless), and started the cool-weather greens indoors on January 25th.
Generally that would be fine. The coastal Pacific Northwest has mostly mild Springs, and the seedlings can go outside in February after they’ve been hardened off for a few days. Last week the seedlings forced the issue because they were outgrowing the lighting rig. This coincided with snow in the forecast, so we brought the cold frame out of the back yard and placed it on the sunniest place on the property — along the edge of the front walkway tucked up next to the salad table. We added row cover over the top of the salad table as well to protect the newly transplanted arugula (the row cover is not pictured):
That’s Miner’s Lettuce on the bottom level of the salad table and all around the nearby pots. It’s Northwest Native, high in vitamin C, makes a nice salad base, and it’s been re-seeding itself the last few years. I’m now trying it in other places around the side and back yards to see if it’ll grow there too. The cold frame has Super Sugar Snap peas, some lettuces, dill, and cilantro.
We got more than 6 inches of snow on Thursday and Friday. I’d include a current picture but it’d look like “A Polar Bear In A Snowstorm” — the top of the snow is almost level with the top of the front of the cold frame.
We’d purchased the cold frame a few years ago at a home and garden show, with the thought that we could grow cool weather greens in the back yard with the assistance. Unfortunately the micro climate in the back yard isn’t suitable for spring gardening — the sun level is too low in the horizon so the (East-NorthEast facing) back yard stays frosty well after the front yard warms up. We wouldn’t want to have it partially blocking the front walkway all the time, so the cold frame has mostly been idle the last few years.
But it’s nice to finally use it the cold frame again. The snow has started up again as I write this. Bringing the cold frame to the sunny part of the yard may become an annual Spring tradition.
We love arugula on pizza and flatbreads. Last night it was time to harvest the arugula from the salad table. (The link shows the salad table one month after the initial planting in 2015, with yet another arugula pizza. I sense a theme. Here’s a link to the Making The Salad Table post.)
The first picture is last night’s arugula pizza with a garden tomato sauce from the freezer, goat cheese, and red pepper flakes. The arugula was strewn on top after baking:
The sauce was rich and on the sweet side. The frozen tomatoes that we used were labeled “2018 Tomato”, so the base was likely a combination of Oregon Spring and whatever else the garden provided that day. The dough itself was a little on the sweet side too — I substituted out 10% of the water and replaced it with a Riesling.
Another picture. I stretched the pizza by hand rather than rolling it out, making a point to leave it thicker at the edges. The pizza was a little more 3-dimensional than the picture might show:
This flatbread is topped with pancetta, red onion, and an arugula pesto made with arugula, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, and brie. The arugula pesto was the sauce, so it was added at the beginning:
Using arugula pesto meant that the end result was light and savory at the same time. The flatbread itself was somewhat crackery which complimented the zip of the arugula and red onion.
It feels like an early spring around here. The salad table will need to be planted soon:
The top shelf has some scrawny romaine. There’s also some spindly spinach. The big masses of happy green stuff are Miner’s Lettuce. We like the taste and it appears to be indestructible. I’ll be interested to see if it tries to completely take over the salad table.
In the other containers, the mache and radishes are really starting to take off, after pouting all winter. The carrots still have a ways to go.
We planted the new salad table in early August. Last night we harvested this:
The harvest barely put a dent in the plant mass (Top shelf, L-R: “Little Gem” romaine, dill, spinach, “Jericho” romaine, cilantro, arugula) Behind the greens are the stairs to the front door — the salad table couldn’t be more conveniently located:
It’s supposed to get into the low 80’s the next couple of days. The salad table only gets sun until about 1pm, but I’m still concerned that something may decide to bolt and destroy part of the “work” we’ve put in. I’m hoping that the shade cloth will help discourage that:
I used a couple of shade cloth pieces we had lying around. There are 2 x 2’s “attached” with cable ties to the front of the table. The shade cloth isn’t sitting directly on the greens, much. I’ll remove the shade cloth by the weekend — I’ve found I’m much less inclined to harvest greens if I have to fiddle with a cover. Easy and spontaneous is good.
One more picture — a quick weeknight pizza with roasted red pepper sauce (peppers from the garden), mozzarella, and arugula (from the salad table):
I’ve been thinking about building a salad table for a while. (Or “lettuce” table, depending upon the reference.) My feeling is that it was within my ability, though the result likely wouldn’t be pretty. I also wasn’t sure that I wanted to sink that much time into it. Then I thought, maybe I could modify something pre-built, like a utility cart. A little searching in catalogs and the internet led me to here. (Amazon link.)
It’s an “industrial” utility cart. The shelves are heavy wire and have a one-inch lip all the way around. Perfect.
That price didn’t seem crazy. Plus I’d be getting three shelves instead of just one. I also wouldn’t need to buy casters or hardware cloth, so I’d be saving $20-30 right there. I still needed to buy window screen ($6) and I used three 6′ pine boards (1″ x 4″ x 72″) at about $2.50 each. The total outlay was about $85, rather than $30-50.
But I think it’s pretty awesome. The total height is about 36″ — allowing for around 14″ between the shelves.
Here it is before installing the screen:
And with the screen installed:
Now it just needs seeds and soil. That will probably happen early next week. Fun new toy!
Extra special thanks to SeattleAuthor for letting me use his tablesaw. (Really, he did all the cutting.) It saved me a bunch of time and labor, and the cuts came out tons better than I could have accomplished with a regular saw.