This is a little catch-up for you on the IDEA garden. We were able to set out the first round of plants in late September. At that point, the mustard and broccoli were ready to go outside. I also had some extra coleus and sweet potato vine cuttings that were rooted and ready for planting, too. The coleus and sweet potato vine are warm season annuals and will only last until we have frost. Since the pansies and snapdragons were not ready, I thought I would use the coleus and sweet potato to fill out the garden and give a bit of color with their foliage. Most years, we do not have frost until Thanksgiving, so I took a chance.
To lay out the bed, we first laid our irrigation line in place. It was anchored in place with sod staples (but not piercing the irrigation line). Next, we put down our mulch. I chose pine straw because of its economy and because it was readily available. I put the mulch down BEFORE planting because it is easier to plant lots of little plants through the mulch than to mulch around lots of little plants.
Next, I doodled on a piece of paper, laying out the garden, working through several ways to make use of the plants that I had. I had more mustard than anything else, so I chose to plant it from one end of the D-shaped bed to the other, bisecting the bed with an irregular wave. The wave fanned at the ends of the bed and constricted in the center. The pansies would be low to the ground, like the sweet potato vine. These would be great for the ends of the bed. I had fewer flats of pansies (still in the greenhouse) than other materials, so I had to use more of other things to cover the bed space. I knew that the coleus was tall, like the snapdragons would be. I placed these taller plants toward the center of the bed. Space was designated for the broccoli on the front of the bed where it had room to be bold with its blue-green leaves and (hopefully) chartreuse-green florets later in the fall. To make sure the plan would work, I laid out the plants, still in their cell packs, in the approximate areas they would be planted. This allowed me to move them around and adjust the spacing.
It took the better part of a day to get several hundred plants in the ground. We were also visiting with all of our curious coworkers who wanted to know what we were planting! After the plants were in the ground, we applied a slow-release fertilizer to the bed. We will supplement with liquid fertilizer as needed in the coming weeks. By 2 pm, we were able to water in everything and put away our tools. All in a very rewarding day’s work!