I'm so excited with the progress of my garden this year. It definitely shows that practice really does make perfect eventually. I went from killing every plant I touched (I never remembered to water things) to having a 8'x16' garden that is already producing more than we can eat!
After all those years, I would have to say, the trick is definitely the soil. I read several articles and books saying the same thing and I always thought dirt was dirt. It's what you put in the soil that counts. That is what the plant 'eats'. Yep... they do need water (everything does) and sunshine (for photosynthesis), but neither of those are feeding the plant to make it grow.
The secret to getting your soil right is really just some good organic fertilizer (or compost) with crushed asprin and calcium pills. The fertilizer when get a good base of nutrients back into your dirt. The asprin wards off disease in plants, just like it does for us. And then the added calcium helps several plants, especially tomatoes, from rotting prematurely. I have been using this technique for the past couple years thanks to Tom at Seeding a Good Life (check out his crazy large harvests).
My tomatoes are starting to turn from blossoms to fruit, green beans are finally trellising, zucchinis are growing, and my cantaloupe vines have taken over my chair. Now I just need to keep the bad bugs away and eat, share, and put up for later!
stuffed squash blossoms
squash stuffed shells
fish fillets, steamed broccoli, and cheesy chard biscuits
hamburgers and red white and blueberry salad (go USA!)
pizza night Yum