There is something incredibly therapeutic about digging, sowing, planting, watering and fertilizing. Getting your hands dirty, the scent of wet earth and the satisfaction that your hard work has paid off in the form of green plants, beautiful flowers and healthy fruits.
Now that my daughter is old enough to wield a trow of her own, we have started several projects in the garden. Spending time together outdoors is so much fun, especially when getting dirty is a requirement! We started several projects over the last few months and now I have the before and the after pics to inspire you do get outside, plant something together and watch is grow.
First, we planted some bulbs in pots that we could “force” indoors. Amaryllis bulbs grow so fast, you can measure them in the morning and at night and see a noticeable difference – not to mention the flowers are spectacular. We put a pot in the kitchen, the office, the bedroom, anywhere there was a sunny window.
This! Times 6! There are six of these huge flowers all blooming from the same stalk.
Next, some herbs. I found a stack of terracotta pots in the alley behind our house a few years ago and now I put them to work. We bought seedlings (pre-started plants) from the nursery and potted them based on the size of the plant and the pot being sure to give lots of room to grow. We added cute markers for a crafty touch – I used flat, black rocks and a white paint pen for a chalkboard effect.
Lastly I found a design for a lettuce table – or an above ground planter made especially for growing lettuce – and I asked my husband Peter if he would make it for me. If I had known right then what the project was going to cost us in “necessary” new power tools, I probably would have nixed the whole thing. But once it was done and our first crop of lettuce came up, I was in heaven. It is single handedly the coolest thing in our garden and it produces lettuce faster than you could drive to the store and buy some. Now, I’m not going to lie, this is a big project. But the rewards of growing your own food AND teaching your kiddos where food comes from? It’s totally worth it. Not to mention the lettuce is delicious. Also, most local nurseries (Baker’s, Harper’s, Berridge’s) all carry a version of this that would be half the effort for the full effect. If you’re feeling brave, skip to the end for supplies and directions.
Choose “loose leaf” lettuce seed varieties rather than head lettuce. Sprinkle seeds evenly and water gently until sprouts appear. I like green leaf, red leaf, Black Simpson and Bibb varieties. Trim 3/4 of the way down the leaves so that they will continue to reproduce.
What do you grow in your garden? What do you want to grow? Any tips or tricks?
(if you know how to keep an orchid alive, please tell me!!)
Lettuce Table Supplies:
8 – 2”x4” boards (12’ long)
4 – 1”x4” boards (12’ long)
30 – 2 ½” Galvanized Deck Screws
24 – 1 ½” Galvanized Deck Screws
1- 2’ x 12’ Roll of Aluminum Window Screening
1- 2’ x 12’ Roll of Hardware Cloth
Mitre Saw (or a handsaw and some powerful biceps)
Staple Gun (with staples)
Drill (with bit to match screws)
The first step in constructing your salad table is to cut your lumber into the following pieces (if you decided to us a hand saw, here is where you earn your keep):
2 – 2”x4”x12’ pieces
6 – 2”x4”x17” pieces
6 – 2”x4”x36” pieces
6 – 2”x4”x32” pieces
2 – 2”x4”x6’ pieces
2 – 1”x4”x12’ pieces
10 – 1”x4”x17” pieces
1. Now that your lumber is cut, place your two 2”x4”x12’ pieces of lumber on the ground (parallel to each other) about 17” apart.
2. Take two of your 2”x4”x17” pieces of lumber and place them between the 2”x4”s that are lying parallel on the ground so that you create a rectangle. Now use four of your 2 ½” galvanized deck screws to firmly secure the boards together.
3. Take your four remaining 2”x4”x17” pieces of lumber and place them between the 2”x4”s that are lying parallel to create five relatively equal planting areas. Now use eight of your 2 ½” galvanized deck screws to firmly secure the boards together.
4. Now you get to use everybody’s favorite tool – the staple gun. Roll out the hardware cloth and cover the bottom of your newly created rectangle with it. Attach the hardware cloth with staples.
5. Roll out the aluminum window screening and cover the bottom of your newly created rectangle (and the hardware cloth) with it. Attach the aluminum window screening with staples.
6. Now that the top of your salad table is complete, you need to construct legs for your table. Because the top of your salad table is rather heavy you want stout legs that will bear all that weight. To construct a table leg, take one of your 2”x4”x32” pieces and attach it to one of your 2”x4”x36” pieces with a 2 ½” galvanized deck screw. You want the pieces to lay on top of each other on the 4” sides, meet at the bottom and leave a 4” gap at the top. Repeat this process until you have six legs.
7. With the rectangle still on the ground, you can now attach the legs to the top of your salad table with the 2 ½” galvanized deck screws – three legs on each side, one in the center, one three feet to the left and one three feet to the right. The top of your salad table should rest on top of the 2”x4”x32” pieces and the 2”x4”x36” pieces should be on the outside of the table top.
8. With the rectangle still on the ground, attach two 1”x4”x12’ pieces of lumber over the hardware cloth/aluminum screening with 1 ½” galvanized deck screws. These pieces will give the table support and the table top won’t sag when you add soil.
9. With the help of another person (or if you’re the tough guy who decided to use a handsaw you can do this yourself) turn the table over. You can now attach the bottom shelf to your table. To do so, attach the 2”x4”6’ pieces of lumber to the front and back the table legs about halfway between the ground and table top with the 2 ½” galvanized deck screws. The 2”x4”x6’ pieces of lumber will not only provide a base for the shelf but will serve as a good brace for the table legs.
10. Now you can attach the ten 1”x4”x17” pieces of lumber to the 2”x4”x6’ pieces of lumber that you just added with the 1 ½” galvanized deck screws and create a slotted shelf – be aware that anything you put on this shelf will get wet when the table top drains.