Answer: Fall is an excellent time to prepare the soil for a new garden; in fact soil building is an ongoing process in the garden. The first thing to do is perform some basic soil tests. Then, based on the results, you will know what types of amendments are needed and which nutrients, if any, are lacking in the soil. Your County Extension can help you with the tests and with interpreting the results. Their telephone number is 431-7260.
In any case, once you have decided how you wish to deal with any existing sod, you can expect to loosen the soil and add as much organic matter (such as compost, fallen leaves, grass clippings and so on) as you can manage; this helps improve the soil structure and texture and "feeds" the soil to help keep it healthy. Healthy soil will help you grow healthy plants with the least effort in the long run.
For some straightforward yet detailed talk about soil preparation and other helpful information, you might wish to look at a good basic gardening book. I particularly like "Gardening For Dummies" by Michael MacCaskey ISBN 1-56884-644-4. Good luck with your new garden!
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