University of Maryland Extension

Choose a Site and Growing Media

Where should I place the Salad Tableor Salad Box?

Select a convenient, level spot close to a water source.  Leaves, twigs, flowers, and other debris will land on the Salad Table™ if it’s located under trees.

How much sun do salad greens need?

  • Select a sunny spot for April-June 15 (4-8 hours of direct sun)
  • Move it to a shady spot from June 15-Sept. 15 (0-3 hours of direct sun)
  • Then back to a sunny spot for mid-Sept. through November (4-8 hours of direct sun).

Salad greens grow best with maximum sunlight during the cooler spring and fall months and minimum sunlight during the hottest summer months. Herbs, like basil, thyme and cilantro are the exceptions.  They should get at least 6 hours of direct sun for the entire growing season.

What kind of soil (or dirt) should we use and how much?
Your choice of growing media is very important because your salad greens are dependent on a relatively small volume of growing medium (only 3” deep!)  Unlike their cousins growing in garden soil, containerized plant roots cannot grow around obstacles or mine the soil far and wide for nutrients and water.

Growing medium has three main functions- 1) supply roots with nutrients, air, and water, 2) allow for maximum root growth, and 3) physically support the plant.  Your growing media should have large particles with large pore spaces between the particles.  This will make it light and fluffy (well-aerated) encouraging fast seed germination, strong root growth, and good water drainage.

Each Salad Table™ will hold about 2.8 cubic feet (22 gallons) of growing mix.

Each Salad Box™ will hold 0.5 cubic feet (3.75 gallons) of growing mix

  • Use a 50:50 mixture of a “soilless” growing media with good compost (e.g. LeafGro- a compost made in Central MD from leaves and grass clippings).
  • Do not use animal manures in the Salad tables or Salad Boxes. 
  • Soilless media contain peat moss, vermiculite, and perlite. You must work water into it before mixing with the compost and filling the frame because peat moss repels water when dry.
  • A 100% soil-less growing media is also fine to use.
  • New soilless mixes are now available that substitute coir (coconut husk fibers) and rice hulls or peat moss and perlite.
  • Soilless growing media will settle quite a bit because of the large pores.
  • Avoid garden soil because it is very dense and contains weed seeds.
  • It’s best not to re-use your growing media next year. Weathering will cause particle size to decrease, leading to poor aeration and inhibited root growth.  Instead, spread the old growing media around garden plants.
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