I've been gardening for about 10 years. For 5 of those, I simply improved the soil in the old landscaping area. I had to remove layers of old mulch, plastic sheeting, and rock. I added compost, peat and sand. I used old boards to hold in the beds. This year, with the help of a friend, I have made a more permanent area and expanded the garden. There are now 5 6'x4' boxes installed in the old beds. They are "double-dig" with at least 6 inches of improved soil on the top and a recent application of manure, peat and sand. The nex boxes are 2" wide and 12" tall.
There are 5 4'x4' boxes installed along the north fence. These were installed over cardboard over the grass in a "lasagna" method of layered leaves and grass clippings from the cold compost pile and manure, peat and sand on the top.
Constructing the new boxes required a new power tool: the impact driver. We had to drive 3 inch deck screws into the pine boards at the corners. My small electric drill and the human operator were quickly exhausted. Nailing them together with a hammer was even more work! Impact driver (less than $100) made short work of driving more than 120 deck screws in about 1.5 hours. Overall, we spent about $200 on construction materials plus the cost of the impact driver.
Seedlings were started in the first week of March.
Direct seeding of some crops was accomplished in the third week in March.
Compost was redistributed amongst the tumblers for better and quicker cooking. The manufacturer boasts usuable compost in 21 days. The temperatures haven't been too warm laterly.
We had a couple days of 60's and now due for two weeks of 30's. Cold frames ready.
Oh, I forgot to mention - the mint. It has escaped containment and I was very careful not to cultivate and spread the little segments all over. I'm sure I'll be pulling up peppermint throughout the growing season.