I have a brand new bed that I have planted with corn, beans, squash, watermelon, jicama, melon, cucumbers, etc. I worked very hard on amending the entire bed, creating complex, varying layers of different consistencies. What this does is prevents the water from being drawn out of the root zone of the plants. Of course the amending is also the source of microorganism inoculation, and provides a nutritional bank for the season you are growing. This doesn’t mean you can skip feeding. It means when you DO feed, it will be that much more successful (if feeding organically).
But you aren’t done after planting. Once my seedlings come up, I always side dress the crops with compost (I use my own homemade, rich compost so I know exactly what is going into my bed). I am generous with it but try not to have it sitting up against the base of the plants. This does two things: provides a source of food as it breaks down, and encourages water to head toward the plants. In the pictures you can see I have already had mulch around the plants. This is the second layer I am applying, about a month later than the first.
Over the top of both the compost side dressing and around the plants I add a generous layer of straw which makes the bed seem more even. We don’t really care much about it looking flat so much as we want a good insulation from the dry air and sun.
These layers eventually settle, so it is advisable to do this several times a season. You will notice that your soil will look amazing in just one season. Worms love these layers. Plants love these layers. Beneficial, aerobic microorganisms love these layers. It lessens the amount of water you will use, and also provides constant nutrition to your plants. It also just looks nicer. Especially as the plants grow. Once these layers develop you can start adding red wiggler worms(the kind used in composting), which normally don’t like living in soil directly. But when it is layered and full of stuff to eat, red wigglers will thrive.
So remember, improving your soil does not stop when you have prepared your bed and planted seeds. It is constant.