but if you start NOW, you can turn cruddy worthless soil into wonderful soil by getting real wood chips from trees and just piling it about 4-6 inches deep on the ground and leaving it there through the winter. I’m talking REAL wood chips, like when the tree services come and chip/shred it up.
If you call around, most places are willing to drop it off in your driveway if you will take a full truckload (some will do less.) If you BAG those wood chips in brown plastic 30 gallon trash bags and leave them tied up in a heap on the side of your yard, they will decompose and turn to WONDERFUL compost/dirt in about 3 months.
You need a lot more wood chips than you think you will, even if you are bagging it to turn into compost, so if you’ve got the driveway room for them to dump it, don’t be afraid to take on a whole truckload. There are always tons of people on freecycle who will come take bags of it off your hands too.
I have a 4 foot square planter which is 9 inches high made from free-cycled bricks. Right now it has 16 sweet potato plants growing in it (ah, the blessings of living in southern California) which cost me .75cents or so for the original sweet potato. I grew slips from it, and hopefully in a few more weeks, I’ll be harvesting sweet potatoes 😉