There is one thing that commercial growers don't have, but you should have, and that is compost. If you don't have any, you may be able to find it nearby. Many communities collect leaves in the fall and compost them, offering the decomposed material free to community residents.
Since compost is nothing but leaves and other vegetable matter that have decomposed, you might scout around your neighborhood. Try the town dump or an area where the town sweepers deposit their loads. Local farms may have piles of manure or hay that has decomposed. These are fine for your compost ingredient.
The easiest place to get raw materials for your compost pile is at grocery stores. They throw out crate after crate of spoiled cabbage and lettuce, beet tops, carrot tops, and all types of greens. A friendly visit with the produce manager will assure you of a continual supply. Because it's green and moist, it will start decaying rapidly in your compost pile. Don't put it directly into your garden.
If you have dried leaves to mix with all this fresh, green material, all the better. If not, you might try shredded newspapers. Make sure you use only the black and white pages; color pages do not decompose readily and contain some harmful materials. And, of course, if you don't have a compost pile, get one started immediately.
You can start your garden by building your beds on top of the existing soil. If it's really poor, you can remove some of it and use it for your paths. Even though you'll have to buy more of thesoil mix, you'll be better off in the long run, especially if your existing soil doesn't drain well.
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