6 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL GARDEN
These key elements ensure that your plants stay healthy and productive.
1. Plant in raised beds
Filled with rich, fast-draining planting mix, they are an ideal growing environment for vegetables ― important if your native soil is heavy clay. Local Sonoma fieldstones, set loosely, create an attractive edging; easily dismantled at season's end, they can be reused differently.
2. Build a fence trellis
To maximize a small space, train beans on fence-mounted trellises. For each one, cut a 5- by 10-foot piece of rigid ¼-inch wire mesh from a building supplier. Attach four wood blocks to fence (one for each corner of mesh), screw a lag hook into each block, and fit mesh over hooks.
3. Supply a birdbath
The perfect centerpiece for our circular plot, it attracts birds that in turn feed on insect pests. The muted gold hue complements 'Moonbeam' coreopsis. Shallow concrete bowl ($95) and base ($165) from Quinterra, Calistoga, CA (707/332-4908).
4. Corral tomatoes in cages
Our easy homemade cages have an organic look. Set four 6-foot-long 2-by-2 redwood stakes 1 foot into the ground to form a 20- by 20-inch square; plant seedling in the center. As the plant grows, tie sisal twine around stakes every 6 inches.
6. Keep a garden calendar
Jot down when to fertilize (heavy feeders such as tomatoes can use dilute liquid fish emulsion several times during the growing season). Also write down when your crops should start producing (check labels). Pick peppers when they reach their mature size and color.