Living Salad Bowl


What I’m most excited about in our garden this year is our tub of salad greens – a living salad bowl. I wake up every morning and peek out the window to make sure its survived a night of critterdom. Kensington Market has an incredible selection of herb and vegetable seedlings at great prices. They’re $1.29 each and often you get 4 individual seedlings packaged together as one. I planted the greens fairly close together since I plan on harvesting the outer leaves often, as opposed to growing each plant to full maturity.


Pictured clockwise from top left:
Red oak leaf lettuce, kale, arugula, curly endive, swiss chard, peas.
Following is a guide to growing your own living salad bowl.

living salad bowl metal_tub
First you will need a large fairly deep container. You can find charming pieces at antique markets. I would stay away from plastic because I’m not sure about the possibility of chemicals leaching into the soil, especially since the container will be baking in the hot sun. Plastics are fine for ornamentals, but for things to be eaten I’d rather be cautious. We chose a galvanized metal tub.

living salad bowl drainage holes

Your container must have drainage holes. This is super important so the roots don’t rot and suffocate in pooled water. Most clay pots will already have holes in them. For our metal tub, J hammered holes in with a spike. Be sure to sweep up all the shards of metal this will create. The holes should be about half an inch in diameter more or less.

living salad bowl mesh
Once you’ve got your drainage holes, the next step is about creating a balance between allowing water to drain out and keeping soil in. In smaller containers I often fill the bottom with rocks. But in this large tub it would require a lot of rocks, so I lined the bottom with mesh instead. You can use window screening. We happened to have some mesh J uses for sculpting on hand so we used that. Some recommend using burlap.


Now you’re ready to fill your container with soil and plant your seedlings. I use soil that’s specifically formulated for containers. This usually means it has more peat moss and other similar materials that assist with proper drainage. I must admit I’m guilty of planting the seedlings, then digging them up and moving them around till they’re arranged just so. It’s really best not to do this as you can damage the roots.


The final step is critter-proofing. Collect a bunch of strong sturdy sticks from a walk in the park or from a neighbor who’s just pruned a tree. Carefully insert the sticks all around your seedlings, being careful not to damage the roots. Put yourself in the mindset of a raccoon or squirrel and give the sticks a little wiggle, they should feel pretty sturdy. If they’re not you either need longer sticks, or you need to push them deeper into the soil to make them more secure.

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Life tastes good.