Holiday Hoop House Salad Bar

Reader Contribution by Laurie S.Z. Greenberg
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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?!