Holiday Hoop House Salad Bar

| 12/12/2011 9:58:00 AM

 Salad Bar 

My urban hoop house experiment station has greens in the ground, of course, but I also keep greens in pots. I like having potted greens. They’re so mobile that I can rotate them easily. I have the pots on a shelf in the hoop house until it freezes. Then I put them under grow lights in the basement. Sometimes I rotate a pot or two to the dining room or the kitchen for easy harvest or snacking. Then they go back again under the grow lights and I send some others upstairs. In the basement, I put them on the shelves of a metal baker’s rack where I start my seeds in the spring. Each shelf has a grow light hanging over it. This intensive vertical growing unit is my Hoop House Salad Bar!

Right now the greens in pots are lush and giving generously. I head for the harvest with a basket over my arm and scissors in hand. Cut-and-come-again. It’s a sustainable form of harvesting that allows the plants to keep growing and gives us something to keep eating. 

I originally started with pots in late summer when the hoop house bed was full and I wanted to start some seedlings for winter and early spring harvest. So I planted my winter greens in pots and let the tomatoes and tetragonia continue growing in the hoop house bed into the early fall. Once I cleared space for winter seedlings in the bed, the pots still had greens that didn’t fit. (It takes no time at all for a hoop house to be too small. That’s why they say to make a plan to build one and then double its size.) So I kept the pots with extra seedlings and they have added to our harvest all fall. This is a nice little windfall during these short days when the hoop house greens grow so little. 

So on Sunday mornings when we want a breakfast omelet with ribbons of kale and chives, I head for the Hoop House Salad Bar and clip, clip, clip! It also assures lettuce for our sandwiches and arugula for a salad or a homemade pizza. I slip downstairs, through the basement and back up the stairs with tatsoi, beet greens or Chinese mustard for a salad, an omelet, a soup or a sandwich. (And sometimes the greens don’t even make it upstairs!) 

What I haven’t done yet is to make up a lazy Susan with my potted greens, put it on the table and issue scissors to everyone at the table. Wouldn’t THAT make a great holiday treat?! 

K.C. Compton
12/12/2011 10:37:55 PM

What a cool idea (the lazy Susan on the table). Someone should invent a grow light like that, so people can grow their greens right on the table and just turn the lazy Susan to get the particular green or herb they want at that meal. Your plants look great, by the way -- healthy and happy to be alive! --kc

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