The Q&A Archives: compost, watering tips

Question: I am a novice gardener. Is it possible to buy compost, or what can I use in place of it? Second question, I would like to plant a few zinnia's in a small flower bed, how can I tell when I've watered them enough? Thanks! Megan

Answer: You can purchase organic matter of all kinds at most garden centers. Compost, aged-manure and peat moss are the most commonly sold materials. It doesn't really matter what organic material you use - all will enrich the soil and all will help the soil retain moisture. Choose whatever organic matter is available in your local area.

Zinnias like to be watered deeply. Depending upon your soil, you can probably water your flower bed every 3-4 days during the growing season. A 10 minute soak is about right. To avoid disease problems, try to apply the water to the soil, not on the plants (no overhead watering). If you must use a sprinkler in the bed that will wet the tops of the plants, water in the morning so the plants have a chance to dry before nightfall. Best wishes with your new garden!

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