Add tilth to the soil
Dedicated gardeners will have an ample supply of compost to add to the soil before doing their annual planting, but if you are not that committed yet want to avoid that dead pan mud full of cracks in mid-summer, you can amend garden soil with organics, peat moss or with commercial compost.
Any organic material will break down over time, keeping earthworms interested and giving bacteria something to chomp on. Leaf mold is an easy answer and farsighted gardeners will have chopped up fall leaves with the lawnmower, and put the leaves in plastic garbage bags punched with a few holes to let in moisture and air. Over the winter, the leaves will break down and provide a lovely and nutritional organic fix to feed the flower beds and veggie garden in springtime.
Wood chips or even shredded newspaper will also do the trick – the smaller the pieces of any of these amendments, the faster they will break down and add tilth to the soil.
What is tilth? It’s structure consisting of air and water. The organics help retain moisture and add structure to let life giving oxygen into the soil. For very dry areas, you might want to exchange peat moss for coir, ground up coconut husk, which you buy in bricks, reconstitute in water and add to the top six inches of your garden in a ratio of about one-part coir to seven parts soil. Coir breaks down more slowly than peat and holds three times as much water (eight times its own weight in water). It is easier to rehydrate than peat if it does dry out.
Whether you make your own compost or buy organic material from a garden shop, adding tithe to the soil keeps it healthy.