Also, how to recycle all of those rocks you dig up! This whole project cost less than $50 which includes plants, compost, trellis stakes, soil and edge banding.
Step 1: Hardware and Software
1. Spade - to cut through grass layer and dig
2. Rake - leveling and grass removal
3. Trowel - small holes for planting
2. Top Soil
4. Plants - see next section
Step 2: Choosing Your Plot and Plants
Choose wisely and your plants will grow. Choose poorly and they will live a slow painful death.
I'm growing in full sun. Full south Florida sun.
I have a variety of tomatoes and a compliment of other full sun plants.
Step 3: Remove Grass
Step 4: Dig a Hole
I am digging down about 18 inches or so and removing large rocks. My 8 year old sister is helping separate the large and medium sized rocks for something special later.
Whew, now we've got ourselves a hole. Oh, and be careful if you have any pool or irrigation lines around.
Step 5: Soil Conditioning
As for what compost to use? I always go for the cheapest available ;) I've never had problems either. So go for what's on sale and easiest for you to get at. Remember that the "standard" bag is about 1 cubic foot and weights around 40-50 pounds each.
I try to avoid bags with foam bits in them ;)
Here's a hint for opening those bags.... Take your spade and jab a long hole on one end. Then dump the contents ;) Quick and painless.
Step 6: Soil Conditioning II
I'm not worried about those gaps. When I start to see weeds, I'll be removing them and then adding a layer of mulch. Mulch in the form of more compost.
Step 7: Slight Design Change
This trough will be filled with cedar mulch.
Step 8: Edge Banding
First, Dig a "V" trough where it will be placed (about 4 inches deep)
Second, unwind and stretch it out.
Next, place the banding into the trough and cut to the proper length
If you stretched it out enough and buried it deep enough - it won't pop out or bend out of shape.
Step 9: Excavate and Mulch
Step 10: Planting!
For my flowers, I dig a hole just about the same depth as my plant's root ball. I gently break up the ball a little bit to get those roots roots out pointing in a better direction (it's cramped in those pots) and then place in the hole.
Spacing - of course it depends on the plant itself, but these will be a little closer for a very lush cover. I'm using the distance between my fingers and wrist as a meter stick for spacing.
I intentionally left a space in the back for my tomato plants. I also pushed in some stakes for them to climb later.
I bury my tomatoes deep. Tomatoes have this really neat trick. When exposed to moist dark soil, they will sprout roots from their stalk. So I bury 50-80 percent of the plant and remove any shoots/leaves below the ground line. Just pinch them off.
Step 11: First Watering
Gently water your plants and step back. Clean up the empty pots for later and observe :)
Step 12: Rocks and Neatness
Picked off a dead flower? Leave it on the soil. It will eventually rot away and make good food for later.
I laugh when I see a bag of rocks at the home improvement stores. Here is where I buy rocks for my garden and over there is where I intentionally remove the rocks I find in my garden.
Rocks you find serve better as a border. For me it provides a place for lizards and other critters to hide and provides yet another nice looking grass barrier. Plus a rogue weed eater won't be able to get near my plants.
So wash them of and re-use them rather then throwing them out somewhere.
Step 13: Maintenance
An inch of water will travel about 10 inches in moist soil. Keep that in mind ;) Dry soil doesn't transmit water too well - but you're not going to let your soil dry out right?
Once your plants grow up and provide coverage, they will shield the soil from the sun and less waterings are necessary.
Pull them as you see them ;) Especially in the beginning as the sun is providing ample opportunity to grow. When your plants start to take off - add a layer of compost mulch. I'm not using a wood or rock mulch because this doesn't allow you to add more compost very easily :P But the drawback is weeds.
About once a month -- add a bit of fertilizer. Just FYI, if you're fertilizer has more nitrogen than anything else your tomato plants will be very green and bushy, but it won't produce many flowers.
I'm eating this stuff, so I'm not going to throw on pesticides and stuff. Should you come under attack, search the web for organic solutions. Aphids can be blasted away with water, caterpillars can be picked off (but you may like butterflies and are willing to risk some holy leaves), etc.
Simply put.... healthy plants are pretty effective at fending off pathogens and other nasties. So, if you matched your plants to your light conditions, keep up with watering etc. You shouldn't have much trouble. But again, if you should be plagued - search the web for a solution. But sometimes, it requires removing the injured plant to avoid contaminating your other plants.
When you notice your flowers are starting to die. Pick them off. This will keep your annuals flowering longer and looking nicer. Just drop the flower at the base of the plant ;)
Step 14: Huge Mound of Dirt Sand
To get rid of this (or at least hide it), we're going to help erosion along with hose water. But first, we need to make sure the drainage is good.
I'm using a fork and punching a whole lot of holes in the ground. Just jab in, remove, repeat. This makes sure your grass will drain well and prevent rot/death.
Then blast away with your hose. It might take a few applications over a few days. But it will eventually move itself under the grass.
To take care of all the little stones and rocks. I use a wire rake and pushed them all towards my mini rock wall/rock border. Then I hosed them off.