If planting seems very simple, it is. But somebody messed it up or I wouldn't be explaining it.
Into the two gallon containers I put an inch of grass clippings. These will get smooshed by the heavy gunk that sits on them, but it slows down any erosion from the container. You can skip this step if you want to. It doesn't make much difference.
On top of the grass are 2-4 inches of top soil.
Some people have selective hearing. Some have selective memory. Some people are self-centered psychopaths who refuse to admit mistakes and expect to get paid top-dollar for the failures they create. To cut costs, some commercial growers use composted landscaping refuse as growing medium. Don't do it. I tried it. The plants limped along, their suffering obvious to everyone except the person who talked me into that project.
As the losses mounted, I decided to try another approach...
Just putting the crap dirt into the bottom half of the container.
The hops from the year before rooted through the landscaping fabric and into the compacted sand beneath the pallet where they sat. Apparently plants don't care what is underneath them. Once they get enough root system and water their roots will stick to concrete.
You can use whatever heavy, cheap soil amendment you happened to find. The purpose is to keep the container from tipping over if it gets top-heavy and a hurricane comes. Good potting soil should not be heavy. This is especially important if you bought breakable containers. Put a couple inches of heavy gunk in the bottom.
Tip: That whole rocks or socks in the bottom for drainage thing - B.S. That was the old-school version of an internet myth.
An inch of the expensive soil and then the plant. Adjust the soil height by adding or subtracting soil - to get the right depth for each plant. You CAN believe the tags on planting depths. Fill it half way to the rim with soil.
Sprinkle one tablespoon of the slow release fertilizer around on the soil. Fill until the top of the soil is half an inch from the rim.
If the plant is dry, water it with a water breaker or shower nozzle hose attachment.
Why is planting so hard? It seems so effortless when I think about it: just dump the stuff in the pot. It's not hard, but even easy stuff takes time.
A bag of mixed lettuce at Kroger is $4. Little squash are $1 a pound in season. Peppers are $1 each. Arugula is rarely available in bulk. The food in these containers will add up quickly and be a quality unavailable at a reasonable price. That won't stop US from putting a price on it!
I've got a double-payback promise to keep!