Ok now you’ve got some seedlings and you’re ready to take them out of daycare and into the world ☺
Putting your baby plants to bed
There are some simple points to consider when planting. Before planting you should think about laying out your garden.
After drawing out the layout of your garden, one of the first things you want to do is create raised beds. Raised beds are basically mounds that you plant in. I’m a fan of raised beds here in the south because they create nice drainage and can make for easier weeding.
The benefits of raised beds are:
1 - The soil drains better
2 - The ground warms faster
3 - The soil allows for more oxygen to the roots
Something to remember is to make your garden beautiful. If you are going to be coming and spending quite a bit of time in this paradise, make it attractive.
Ideas to make your garden more attractive:
Make smaller beds so that you can walk around easier
Make your beds/rows about 4 feet wide and leave at least 18-24” between each row for walking. Also this will allow for you to kneel down and reach half way across the row without stepping on your beds. Stepping on your beds compacts the soil and prevents the oxygen and water from easily permeating the root structure of your plants.
If possible, align your rows from north to south. This allows for your plants to get maximum east to west sun exposure each day.
Dig deeper and wider holes than seems needed. There is an ancient little known method that states, for optimal growth of a tomato plant, you want to dig a hole 3 feet wide and 3 feet deep and layer it with compost and other materials. This method sounds intense but what it does is break up the soil for perfect transfer of energy from the sun and water to the root structure of the plant. It also allows for your plant’s roots to grow easily through soft highly oxygenated soil. For the typical hole, dig it at least 6 inches by 6 inches and then place the plant where the first leaves or branches are just above the surface when you fill in the hole with all the loose dirt.
Because different plants use more of some elements than others, it is wise to change the location of where you plant your plants each season and each year. In other words don’t plant the tomatoes in the same place year after year.
Covering: Don’t leave the ground Naked
Walk in the woods sometime and notice how the trees and bushes are growing just fine. Who is taking care of these guys? Notice that the leaves from the trees fall on the ground and create a covering of twigs and leaves and branches. These in turn decompose and create a nice blanket for the forest. This blanket helps maintain proper soil structure and fertility by allowing nature to do what it does. So what do we learn from this? We replicate this in the garden.Cover your plants and rows with a layer of mulch or compost. This will prevent rampant weed growth (some may still come through but they are much easier to pull and manage). You can use leaves, mulch from trees or any other type of mulch that will easily break down into soil. Apply 3-6” of thickness for maximum benefit. This will also prevent soil compaction and allow for minimal watering needs.
Heaven or Hell?
There is also another benefit to applying a layer of mulch onto the surface of your garden: Weed Control.
Weeds are perhaps the greatest evidence in the world for evil. Once you have a garden, you will understand. They come out of nowhere, there is no reason for their existence. The way in which to best deal with weeds is to pluck them out when they are young and throw them outside of your garden. Like any bad habit, if you just leave it around the thing will take root again and grow back stronger than before.
By applying a layer of mulch you will help keep your garden looking like heaven and not the other place!
I hope these tips help you as you plant your garden ! Let us know if you have any questions!!