Soil Amendments
Q.

What do I add to the ground to till under to make a flower bed? Should I use improve soil or compost or should I use a potting mix

Zone 45424 | Steve Tornow added on April 5, 2019 | Answered

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MichiganDot
Answered on April 5, 2019

The ideal situation is to get a test of your soil before planting. If tests show deficiencies or a pH that doesn't suit flowers, corrective steps are taken before planting. You don't mention what your soil is like; many gardeners use both sphagnum peat moss and compost/manure to enrich and loosen topsoil. Your goal will change depending on which flowers are being grown. Ohio native plants have adapted to Ohio soils and may suffer or be very aggressive in enriched soils. Ohio clay can be very difficult to work and 4 inches of peat moss dug into the top 9 inches of soil will loosen clay and prevent the top layer from drying out fast. It also improves drainage. Compost is a mild fertilizer with a wide array of micro-nutrients. 2 inches can be dug in with the sphagnum peat or layed on top of the soil after planting. It is renewed annually as a top-dressing, placed under but not touching plants. Time and worms send it down deeper. Some flower instructions use terms like "average garden soil", "rich soil", sandy soil, etc. If you use peat and compost, you'll have average garden soil which is usefully for the largest number of flowers. Too rich, and too much nitrogen (through high nitrogen fertilizer), creates lots of leafy growth which may make the plants flop over and bloom less. Try to plan the flower bed before digging. Cluster plants that require sandy, drier soil, in one section and moisture-lovers in a separate section. Lavender must have sandy soil which will be too dry for moisture-loving plants like calla lily. You can create sections to meet these needs if you wish. Here is more information on garden bed soil. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/starting/how-to-build-a-flower-bed-starting-a-flower-bed-from-scratch.htm

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