In my younger days I spent many a summer with dirt under my finger nails and a trowel in my hand. Who am I kidding, I still spend summers like that. One summer I worked for a very particular landscape architect.
So. Much. Planting.
She had a very specific planting technique, which at the time was a pain in the petunia, but I’ve used it since and I think it gives my little plants a good start in their new garden homes. It gives them the extra boost they need to become self-sufficient. And that’s my gardening goal, plants that take care of themselves. I’m going to share it with you, so you can have a self-sufficient garden too.
In these pictures I’m planting pansies. Because I live in Canada they are the only plants hardy enough to endure the current weather. I use the same technique for everything I plant, veggies, annuals, shrubs and perennials.
When you head out to do the planting it totally helps to play garden fairies. If you have more than one little girl helper there will be a fight over who gets to be Rosetta. You will be the workhorse and you will not get to chose a pretty garden fairy name, you’ll be designated Dirt or Wormy. Mostly the little garden fairies are in charge of design and delegating.
Fill a watering can or a bucket with water and transplant fertilizer. This is the only time we use a synthetic fertilizer in our garden. One bottle of miracle gro quick start lasts us 2-3 years. You don’t have to use miracle grow, anything with a 4-12-4 formula will work. It’s designed to stimulate the roots and get them growing. More roots means plants are better able to search out water and nutrients. Like I said, taking care of themselves.
Liquid fertilizer needs to be diluted in water. If you pour it straight on your plants you will kill them. Read the instructions carefully and little garden fairies should not help with the fertilizer mixing.
Water your plants before you start. Water first with straight water, then water with fertilizer. Whether you use fertilizer or not it’s a good rule of green thumb to always plant soaking wet plants.
Once you’ve drenched your plants. Get them out of the containers and place them in the garden where you’d like to plant them. Constant vigilance is needed here because those garden fairies like to move stuff around when you have your back turned.
Dig holes. You want to aim for the top of the root ball to be even with the top of the garden. This isn’t such a big deal with pansies but it’s a big deal if you’re planting a tree or a shrub. If you are planting tomatoes, they have their own rules.
(p.s. root ball is a fancy term for the ball of dirt that comes out of the pot with the roots.)
Water each hole, with the plant in it, with your watering can and diluted fertilizer.
Let them soak. If the garden is really dry or you are planting in hot weather, you can do the water and soaking a few times.
Backfill your hole with the muddy soil. Ta da, you are well on your way to earning your garden fairy badge.
What’s next to plant in your garden?