Salad Garden

(Updated 11/01/2013)
For additional information, see our other web page on gardening:

In Arizona we participate in the Cascabel Community Garden about 1/2 mile from where we live, but wanted a small salad garden closer to home.  This recently constructed garden is conveniently located just outside our cottage door.  The soil surface of the salad garden is about 28" above the ground which is a comfortable work height and also protects the garden from rabbits, javelina, gophers, etc.  The diameter of the garden is about 5' which is small enough to easily reach to the center for weeding, planting, etc.  The plastic sheeting gives a greenhouse effect which greatly encourages germination and plant growth during winter as well as conserving moisture. 




The garden has grown quickly and provides salads 5 times a week despite the short December days and occasional nights in the mid 20's F.  We'll also soon be harvesting greens and beets for cooking.  We pull the plastic cover over the garden at night and often leave it on during the day as well if the high isn't above about 80 F.  The cover is quick and easy to use and has withstood wind well.  In December, with the plastic on most of the time, the garden only needs watering once or twice a week.  We use a 2 gallon watering can and apply about 4 gallons each time we water. 



We made the garden from discarded corrugated metal roofing.  8 pieces of roofing, each 2' wide by 3' long, were cut with tin snips.  The pieces were then fastened together to form a cylinder 3' high and about 5' in diameter.  The pieces were overlapped by one corrugation and fastened together using #10 machine screws, washers and nuts (5 screws for each joint).  A piece of 1/2" polyethylene irrigation hose was split lengthwise and wired to the top edge of the cylinder to prevent cut hands. 

Before putting the cylinder in place, scrap pieces of 1/2" hardware cloth were laid on the ground to prevent gophers from tunneling up into the garden.  The cylinder was then set on top of the hardware cloth and a piece of 1 1/2" PVC pipe about 5' long was set in the center of the cylinder as a support for the plastic sheeting.  The cylinder was then filled with about a foot of wood chips followed by 16" of compost.  This gave rigidity to the cylinder and held the pipe in place. 

A 9' diameter circle was cut from 3 mil clear plastic and the center of the circle was reinforced with several layers of duct tape.  Then a 1/4" hole was drilled in the center of a 1 1/2" PVC pipe cap and the plastic sheeting was secured to the top of the cap with a bolt, fender washers and a nut.  The cap was slipped over the end of the PVC pipe.  16 rounded river rocks, each about 2-3" in diameter, were used as weights around the perimeter of the plastic.  They were wrapped in the edge of the plastic and secured with twist ties.

 Here are a few tips for setting up the salad garden:          


Begin by driving a rebar stake in the center of a leveled circle.  Then put poultry wire or hardware cloth down to prevent gophers or rodents from entering garden.


Check to be sure ground is level.

If your garden will be 5' in diameter, measure out 2-1/2' from stake. 
Wrap twist-ties around poultry wire to mark where the sheet metal cylinder
will go.  


             Keep moving the tape measure around the stake, marking out a circle by wrapping twist-ties in about 8 evenly spaces places.  . 

Place cylinder over twist-ties. 


 Place PVC pipe over center stake.  Then begin filling cylinder with garden soil, checking frequently to be sure cylinder remains round as soil is added.  Cylinder is filled to within 6" or so of the top.  Garden is ready to plant.


2013 Update:

We discovered that the 3 mil hardware store plastic sheeting began to develop tears due to UV damage after only a couple seasons of use.  In 2011 we replaced it with 6 mil UV resistant polyethylene greenhouse sheeting.  This has been a recommended upgrade.  It is now in its third year of use and is holding up well.  The greater thickness also helps to keep it from shaking in the wind. 


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