Healthy plants require nutrient rich, well aerated soil, with plenty of drainage. That is hard to come by in San Diego. A great way to start your garden in an area with difficult soil, like clay or sand, is by investing in a raised bed garden. Raised beds are small plots of soil, 3-4 ft wide, laid on top of existing earth. These beds are popular for backyard gardeners because of their space efficiency and near effortless upkeep. Plants are easy to reach from both sides of the bed and building your garden 1-2ft off the ground you will reduce stress on your back. Deep, loose, fertile soil with plenty of room for root zone development and adequate drainage will make your plants healthy and productive.
A raised bed can be created by constructing any size rectangle from rot resistant materials, laying down hardware cloth, then filling with soil. Inexpensive alternatives to building your raised bed from scratch are the Big Bag Bed by Smart Pot or Frame-It-All prefabricated beds, which only need to be filled with a high quality soil.