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RickCorey_WA wrote: >> I should have thought of this before planting.
Me, too! Actually, I did worry about it, then planted perennials anyway, and regretted it since.
The idea I LIKE best is to wait until you are ready to divide or transplant things in that bed. Move them out, then work on the soil in that spot, then move some back in. Or, in my case, wait until they die and start over!
But I don't think anyone ever plans to move roses.
The PRACTICAL idea (everyone tells me) is to let the worms and the rain do the hard work.
"Top-dress" with compost, partially aged compost, and even un-composted things.
Grass clippings, manure or coffee grounds laid on top of the soil will decompose gradually (weeks to months).
Finished compost and almsot-finished compost will decompose faster.l
What becomes soluble will leach down into the soil below and enrich it gradually. Worms will come to the surface, eat, and burrow back into the soil while grinding up organic stuff down to fine particles, leaving them behind as worm castings.
This works great over a period of a few years to produce great soil.
Don't let manure or "hot" things like green grass clippings touch plant stems. Keep them an inch or more away from stems. I think roses especially like to have air around them and are prone to disease.
And it never hurts to lay down organic mulch on top of the compost layer. Pine bark, pine needles, starw, whatever is weed-seed-free.
BUT, if you are impatient like me, and not dedicated to pure organic methods, buy a can or soluble plant food like Miracle-Gro. Tablespoon, watering can, garden hose: ba-da-bing ba-da-boom. Give them a little plant food every week or two while the compost is gradually improving the soil.
Don't give too much chemical fertilizer! Under-fertilizing is fine: at most they will grow slower. Over-fertilizing is bad for the soil life that you wnat to encourage, and can even burn or kill plants. Follow directions, or use half that much. If your fingers yearn to give more, wait until leaves are yellowing and growth stalls. Or confine the increased fertilizer to just a few plants to be sure they don't go brown or black.
Best of all, if you think the plants need more fertilizer, spray some of the soluble kind on a FEW plants' leaves once or twice per week for a few weeks. If THOSE plants are darker green and grow faster, then maybe the whole bed could use a little more. OR there is a soil problem like pH, mineral imbalance, or insufficient aeration that prevents uptake of something specific. Then you might think about foliar spraying everything, every week or two, until you figure out and correct the soil imbalance. Sending pictures of sick plamnts here to DG or a local nursery might help diagnose it. Also, waiitng a few years until "compost cures all soil ills".
Several people also say they just plain BURY kitchen garbage, fish heads, or other compost-makings in spots in the garden. They say it composts plenty fast even underground. It must be true, I read it on the Internet!
If you have room between established plants where you will NOT be chopping roots when you dig, you can remove some soil, insert compost-makings with more "greens" than "browns", cover it back up, and give those worms a head-start.
Don't bury sawdust or wood chips in soil! Those are notorious for consuming a lot of nitrogen as they decompose: they actually compete with plant roots and starve them. If you have sawdust, put it in a compost heap and add 10% green stuff. If you have wood chips, use them as mulch on TOP of the composting layer.
One thing I learned about digging holes below grade: if you have heavy clay soil that does not drain, establish drainage BEFORE you dig down very far. Unless yhou like mud-wrestling and drowned roots!