On warm days there’s nothing nicer than a salad from your garden. But you don’t have to dedicate a whole bed to salads. There is another option – a space-saving salad tower.
Growing vertically is a smart move when space is tight. There are plenty of ways to do it, for example by using pots attached to fences, stacked planters or even purpose-sold vertical growing tubes. But a homemade salad tower is a cost-effective solution. It’s fun to make and should give something to pick within just a few short weeks.
Super Salad Tower Materials
For your salad tower you will need:
- Strong, flexible wire mesh panels such as stock fencing or chicken wire (make sure the holes are wide enough for you to plant through).
- Flexible wire or cable ties.
- Food-grade polythene to line your tower with. This is a great way to reuse old plastic from other projects to give it a longer life.
- Multi-purpose compost.
- Young salad plants that have been started off in plug trays or small pots. Cut-and-come again lettuces are perfect for growing in a salad tower because you can pick just what you need on each occasion, so they’ll look great for longer.
How to Make Your Salad Tower
Start by cutting the wire mesh panels to size. It’s important not to make your tower too tall, otherwise the potting mix may slump and it will become hard for water to reach the plants lower down. Two feet (60cm) is a good height, with a diameter of around 18 inches (45cm). Leave a little extra fencing to cut and fashion into a base for the tower, which will make it easier to move around. Once it’s cut to size, firmly secure the ends together using the wire or cable ties.
To line the tower, cut the plastic to size then feed it in, pushing it down and into the corners and sides. Once in place, cut several holes or slits into the bottom for drainage.
Wet the potting mix before filling the tower. This helps to give a more even, solid fill, and will make it easier to keep plants watered. Fill the tower right to the top with the moistened mix. Trim off any excess plastic from around the rim to tidy it up.
Plant Your Salad Tower
To create planting holes simply cut an X-shaped slit wherever you want to plant. Then ease each lettuce plant from its plug and carefully feed the rootball through the slit and into potting mix. Take your time, making sure the rootball is in good contact with the potting mix.
Continue around the tower, planting every four to six inches (10-15cm) in both directions. Finish with some salads on the top, or you could add a few flowers for colour. Water gently and steadily so the water trickles right down to the bottom, and water often to maintain consistent and even moisture throughout the tower. If you live in a hot climate, position your salad tower in the cool of the shade so it will last for longer.
Whenever you need any salad leaves you can simply pick or cut individual leaves from the outside of each plant, leaving the central leaves to grow on.
It’s a good idea to start more plants in plugs after a few weeks so they’re ready to replace the first lot once they’re finished.
You can also make a really simple salad tower from hessian sacks, or just by turning old compost bags inside-out, so the black side faces out, and then planting into the sides of these.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this simple project and are tempted to give it go. Let us know how you get on with it, or if you’ve got any questions please leave a comment below.