It goes without saying that, just as the most brilliant cook can do only so much with stale and tasteless vegetables, so the most delicious vegetables any man ever grew can be quickly spoiled by bad, or even by merely unimaginative, cooking.
The usual fate of the stale vegetables we now buy is to be overcooked. In short, they never had much life, they lost in shipping most of the life they had, and the cook then cooks all the life out of them.
Now Lets start with your garden
Remember that the spot where you plant must have plenty of sun. You can build your own soil if you have to. But you can, not supply sunlight, except maybe by cutting a branch off a tree to let sunlight through or by taking down a board fence. If you live in a small town or in the open country and have a choice of sites, a good piece of ground is one that slopes just enough to drain easily.
If it slopes south or, better still, southeast so much the better. Dig a hole a foot deep and see what kind of soil you have. Normally the top few inches will be much darker and much more crumbly than what lies below. This is your topsoil: it is dark because it contains “humus” decayed vegetable matter. The subsoil below it may contain minerals but it lacks humus.
Put an ounce or two of each in a small container and find out from your County Agricultural Agent or from the Department of Agriculture in your state capital where to send them for analysis.
The analysis you get will tell you whether you need the three elements plants need most, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
Results of the analysis can also show whether fertilizer and rain are significant factors in your garden.
Also it may be able to determine whether your soil is too acid and needs calcium. If it does, you should spread agricultural lime on it, not quicklime. Commercial lawn fertilizers and garden fertilizers are available which combine nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
If you can’t get your flower bed soil professionally tested, there are now on the market inexpensive “soil kits,” which are advertised in garden magazines and at Amazon.