Test soil moisture
Dig down 4 to 6 inches, grab a handful of soil, and squeeze it into a ball. Then try to crumble it between your fingers. If it won't crumble and feels a bit like brownie batter, it's too wet. Wait a few days and try again. If it crumbles easily, it's ready for planting. If the soil slides through your fingers, it's too dry. Soak the soil and let it drain. Plant once it passes the squeeze test.
Know your crops
Figure out what soil temperatures your favorite vegetables prefer and what weather they can tolerate. Go here for the ideal temperature ranges of most vegetables. Use your last-frost date to establish planting dates. Just be sure that the soil is warm and dry enough before planting.
Add organic matter
Regularly incorporating organic matter (compost, cover crops, etc.) into soil improves its tilth—physical condition and workability. A soil with good tilth drains well and is easy to cultivate, conducive to seed germination and root growth, and resistant to crusting. Learn more secrets to sowing success.