A few weeks ago, I went back over the old vegetable bed that was left fallow and covered in mulch, and I double dug, added 600 lbs of manure compost, mixed in the newly composted mulch, threw in some bone meal, and planted vegetables, annuals, and herbs. The double digging was laborious but fortunately quick with a garden fork. My husband and I installed wire fencing on my neighbor's fence to train plants. I pulled out a lot of bamboo, English ivy, nutsedge, and all sorts. I laid down some expanded shale as mulch, which will be mixed into the soil once the bed is ready to clear, and I started a wine bottle border.
For competition at the garden club, I'm growing Phoenix tomatoes (club cultivar), and I've got black krim tomatoes, black cherry tomatoes, mortgage lifter tomatoes, variegated basil, marigolds, petunias, garlic chives, and lemongrass. I collected the Phoenix tomato plants in February as 2-3" pots, plugged them deep into 1 gallon pots, and, when rooted solidly, planted in the vegetable bed a bit deeper than the pot, and now I've got loads of them! I've even got a tomato that's nearly red, and these are large tomatoes which is incredibly impressive to me because I've not had much luck at all growing any kind of tomato. Now I know why.
The soil was quite poor once I got deep into it, and there wasn't much organic matter at all. The huge amounts of compost added a lot of tilth and substance, and researching how to grow tomatoes helped as well. I don't think I quite understood just how much good soil tomato plants really need and just how much they need to root prior to blooming. I was working for the blooms, not the roots, but now that I have plants with good, deep roots in good, deep soil, I've got lots of blooms and tomatoes!
This is probably "NO DUH!!!" to some people, but it's been my "A-HA!" moment where I did something that actually worked.
July 1, 2011:
You can find the update to this post here.