Whether planting for food, flowers, or roses - in ascending order - the following steps will always improve the results:
- Bacteria is the foundational food of life, so encouraging bacteria will increase the vitality of the soil. I used stored tap-water when I have used up the stored rainwater. Tap-water left alone for a day or two will lose its chlorination and cease being anti-life in the soil.
- Fungus is another foundational form of life, so improving the fungus growth means leaving plants alone, swearing off the rototiller, and adding wood products of all kinds to increase the fungus (wood mulch, bark, twigs, newspapers, carboard).
- Letting harmless, low-growing weeds grow, if they are not unsightly, is a good idea. They can also be elbowed aside with more favorable cover crops like clover, buckwheat, and wild strawberries. Tall weeds that are difficult to pull out can be snipped off at ground level (landscaper tip). I did that with hog peanuts, a legume that was growing too freely, but still adding nutrition for the soil. Woody bush starts get the same treatment.
- Storing rainwater gives special plants a double boost. First they enjoy the rain. Secondly, they get another feeding when the stored rain is used on them a few days later - or right away for stressed plants. I try to keep rainwater around for soaking any new plants. However I dump stored water fairly soon, to stop mosquitoes from hatching.