I have already planted, or scattered the seeds, for what I plan to do this year. (Unless the other half has more ideas, that is.) The soil was turned, but not treated in any manner. One bed has impatiens, lots of seeds and about 2 dozen seedlings. The other bed has gladiolus bulbs and a pair of peony bulbs in the bed proper and shade area wild flower seed in the mounds boxing it from the rest of its area.
I have a 2 cubic foot bag of "all year long color" commercially produced brown mulch. The bag does not say it is, or is not, dyed, and does not specify what it's made from, though it looks to be "woody" material. The other half also wants to get Miracle Grow food to use on the beds.
My question is when/how to use the mulch. I don't know if it should be spread now, before the seed sprouts break through the soil or wait until they are established. I also don't know how thick to make the mulch when I do use it, and whether or not to use the plant food before or after mulching, if at all.
The larger, impatiens, bed also has an established holly tree in the middle, while the smaller bed has evergreen shrubs behind it and something that looks like a non-blooming rose relative on either end. The shrubs or bushes enter the ground somewhere between 2 and 3 feet from the mound I made as a border.
The location is Louisville, KY, USA, and the beds get a blend of dappled and direct morning sun because of two large shade trees in the yard southeast and south-southeast of the beds. After solar noon neither bed receives any direct sunlight since they are in the building's shadow. Watering is done by hand with a watering can.
With what's already done, and what's at hand, what order do I use for plant food and mulch, before or after the sprouts are visible?
Note: Any other pertinent information that I may have missed will be added as requested in comments.