Beyond that, the entire permaculture of insects, bacteria, and microbes do better in well-drained soil. If your soil is too thick and does not drain well or does not hold moisture well, the answer is compost, compost, compost. Thick soil also does well with the addition of some sand.
If you are digging a garden on fallow land (or your garden needs a serious makeover), then you should prepare your plot in autumn by digging 6-8 inches into the soil, removing visible rocks, and working in as much organic matter as you can before you start to plant the next spring.
Step #4: Decide Which Plants to Grow
Deciding which fruits and vegetables to grow will depend on what appeals to your diet, which plants will fit within the size of your garden, and which plants are appropriate for your hardiness zone. Could you grow something exotic that is hard to find at your local farmers market? Is your favorite produce too expensive to buy from the grocery? Are you unsatisfied with the quality or taste of your favorite vegetables?
For the cost of a packet of seeds (usually a few dollars) your garden will more than pay for itself with the amount of edibles it will produce—not to mention be superior in nutrient content, freshness and taste to! Fresh fruits and vegetables--especially organic ones--are expensive to buy, but you could save a lot of money in just one season by growing some in your own backyard.
You can grow all plants from seeds, but many “starts” or seedlings are available from your local nursery—tiny tomato, pepper, onion, broccoli, and melon plants, started in a nursery greenhouse, are usually ready to plant directly into the soil. Buying seedlings is more expensive than buying a packet of seeds, but it's a great option if you're a fledgling gardener or want to save time as many seeds need to grow indoors for weeks before they're ready for the outdoors. If you're starting from seeds, read the label on every packet. If a label reads “direct sow,” you can sow the seeds directly into the soil, while others need to be started indoors. Either way, the packet of seeds or starter plant will include directions about the spacing, watering, and thinning practices that are most suitable for that particular fruit or vegetable. Continued ›