Spot on. Except the part about asking at a garden store or the guy you hired. Skip that and go straight to the extension agent. If you knew enough to tell whether the latter 2 were blowing smoke, you wouldn't need to ask them.
Originally Posted by kretsch
When I did pull out one of the plants, aside from the white appearance of the SOIL, I noticed that there a lot of ants and some worms crawling in the dirt and the roots
That's healthy soil, and the best thing to do is let it continue to cook. Let the worms do your work. I used to be of the double-digging, work-in-compost contingent - until I figured out how useless that was, especially in heavy clay soil.
When I switched to mulching and letting the worms aerate my soil, not only did the amount of work I needed to do every year go way way WAY down, my soil grew better and better by leaps and bounds.
Following the Way of the Worm doesn't help with an area that gets poor drainage, but who tries to garden in muck like that anyway?
And don't worry about soil vs dirt. I've been gardening for over 50 years and I still call it dirt. Purists be darned!