We recently moved into our first home, and we live in Las Vegas, NV (i think our hardiness zone is 8b). There is a raised bed along the back of the property, and I've cleared out half, have decided i want to use a clay pot/olla subirrigation system for water conservation purposes, but the soil needs a LOT of work before i can plant anything. I'm sure the easiest and cheapest thing would be to put lots of organic matter into the soil and till it, but I would like to get one harvest of herbs before our very short winter/frost season (late dec and january). I grew up in central IL where the ground is near perfect and hardly needs ANY work to grow herbs and veggies, so I need some help.
I have *never* seen an earthworm in any of the dirt in my yard, and the dirt is nearly white. I'm fairly certain it is very alkaline. From my understanding, some medicinal herbs prefer an alkaline environment, but still I can't imagine much of anything growing well in this dirt. It's hard as a rock, like trying to dig through cement, and when it is wet it literally feels like wet cement.
The area, if i did the math properly, is about 500 sq ft, and there's about 2 inches depth left in the bed after i removed all the rock. I'm not sure what type of top soil, or gardening soil I should get, or if i should just get "soil amendments" to add to it, and if so which ones and how much. With the bags of top soil and garden soil being about $2 per cubic foot, if i did the math right the cost would be insanely high just to get the soil fertile. Funds are limited but I am also wanting to do this as quickly as possible; I am really hoping to harvest some red clover asap for my daughter's health needs.
Any suggestions? especially if you've already done gardening in las vegas or other hot desert climates. Thanks!