Gardening Small Goes Mobile!

Late last summer, I wrote about two gardeners with big yields in small spaces.  Both were creative—using blueberries as foundation plantings and the driveway as a garden site.  Now my friend Penny has stepped up the game with an email containing this picture.

Usually, the annoying ping of email doesn't yield anything this satisfying.

In seconds I was on the phone asking, “Can I come over and write about this on my blog?”

Penny had been mulling ways to garden in her small Arlington yard for months, and we had talked about cold frames, sprouting seeds, and even vertical gardening. She started with salad table plans from Maryland’s Cooperative Extension.  Since she also wanted to start seeds and keep greens in the box early and late in the season, she also researched cold frames, finding a video by GardenForkTV showing how to build one.

What she came up with is a hybrid of a salad table and a cold frame.

Penny behind her mobile garden.

Once she had figured out the lumber, fittings, and piping she would need, she went to the  hardware store with a list and asked them to cut things to size so she could assemble them.  She needed a drill, a staple gun, and a hammer.  She assembled it as she had time over three weekends.

Because her yard is mostly in intense sun or deep shade, she wanted to be able to move the structure around, so she added wheels, and because of the wheels, extra supports on the legs.  For the cold frame, she used flexible pvc pipe fitted through brackets and heavy plastic gathered at each corner with velcro tape.

The bottom of the table is covered in hardware cloth and aluminum window screen, with molding added to cover sharp edges.

Brackets hold the pipe in place and screws keep it from punching into the screen.

Meanwhile, she was starting seeds inside.  You know those egg cartons with the extra plastic top molded to the eggs that you have to open after you open the lid?

She cut the molded top off and used it as a drainage tray beneath the carton, in which she punched holes.  With the lid closed, set in the sun, you have a miniature greenhouse.

Finally, overpackaging comes in handy!

The mini-greenhouse, lid open.

While I was there, Penny showed me how she covered the table in cold weather or heavy rain.  It is easy for one person to do.  She cut the plastic to size, and bunched each of the four corners with velcro tape.  Once the plastic is over the frame, she secures it to the legs of the table.

Penny shows two corners of the plastic.

The plastic is secured to the legs.

Voila! The covered table.

Once it gets warmer, Penny plans to paint the salad table white and add extra window-box-sized planters around the sides.  She’s also planning to plant a 3’ x 30’ space along the south side of the house.  So far, the makings for the salad table/cold frame and seeds cost $100.  I bet it pays for itself fairly quickly in salad greens and starter plants for the garden.

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