Soil modification is a key ingredient for how to start a garden. The content and texture of your soil is critical. To have a successful garden, you will need to have good soil. The best soil is not sandy, and it's not too much like clay. It needs to be able to drain adequately, but hang on to enough moisture so that your plants do not go thirsty. Too much sand and the water runs off, too much clay and you drown your plants. You may need to modify your soil before you start your garden.
If your soil sticks together, it's too much like clay and you will need to amend it. If your soil is too sandy, meaning it will not hard stick together at all, you will also need to amend it. The way that you agree both kinds of soil is to add organic matter, or compost.
Luckily, organic matter is nothing more than plant or animal matter that is decomposing. The easiest way that you can add organic matter to your soil is to add compost or apply mulch. If you have a heavy clay like soil, it's best to add manure, or green plant material since they break down more quickly, instead of peat moss, straw or shredded bark, because they do not break down as quickly. Even if you have good soil adding compost is always a good idea.
Adding compost to clay like soil makes it more viable and improves its ability to allow water to flow through. Sandy soil does not have enough organic matter, so adding large amounts helps to give sandy soil a better ability to hold water. Large amounts of organic matter are likely to be needed to make your soil suitable. You will usually want to use a ratio of 2 to 1 compost to soil for it to be effective.
Air, water, minerals, and organic matter are all components of healthy soil. There are benefits of adding decomposed matter to good soil, in addition to compensating for poor soil like sand or clay, and that is it adds carbon, which promotes good bacteria growth, and it is more likely that you will have hearty plants.
You can not have too much compost. In fact, you should not till your soil more than once or twice a year after you have worked in appropriate amounts of organic matter. This is because as the soil is turned, oxygen is added and it feeds the microbial activity that breaks down the organic matter. So if you do not till it, it slows down the destruction of your organic matter.
If you invest the time to make sure you soil is healthy it will pay dividends when it comes to growing your garden.