The key to healthy strong plants is healthy soil.
By Chris Cohan
The key to healthy strong plants is healthy soil. To build and maintain good soil health, add compost or manure. Empty out that compost pile now. Use it up and start a new pile. For established beds, top dress with compost or well-rotted manure, and cultivate. Use a good claw or small pointed hoe to easily work around plants. You will be getting rid of many weeds at the same time. Water well and finish with mulch.
When preparing a new bed or planting area, loosen the soil to a depth of one foot for annuals and two feet for perennials. Work in a 2- to 4-inch layer of organic material such as manure, compost, or peat moss. It’s best to have a soil test done to determine what additional nutrients, if any, are needed. A pH of 6.5 to 7.0 is best. Rake the bed smooth and water gently to settle.
Now you are ready to sow annual seeds and transplant your annual seedlings and perennials.
Remember, annual flower gardens need at least six hours of sun a day. Depending on the perennials you choose, you can plant in full sun to shade. Disease- and deer-resistant Bee Balm is a great bloomer that attracts pollinators. ‘Hot Lips’ Turtle Head is a deer-resistant native that is moist-soil tolerant. It thrives in semi-shade, spreads, and flowers August through September, which butterflies love. Goat’s Beard varieties grow two to six feet tall. Covered by creamy white flowers, they are deer-resistant and grow in the shade.