With the plants definately go for slower or shorter growers. Version 1 had wisteria in it when I was thinking of plants that would out compete algae, in my main sand only tank it would gain about 2 inches a month, which I figured was easy to keep up with trimming wise. In soil it gained roughly that in 4 days. I only planted short off cuts that came up about half way up the bowl. By the end of the week it was breaching the rim.
Also as you go avoid the stupid mistakes I made, such as using a turkey baster to retrieve floaters, and forgetting to prime it out of the water. Or the one I made a few nights ago changing the water, I used an air hose to refill the water to avoid blasting the sand cap, got distracted watching tv and pointed it straight down, yet another soil fountain lol.