There are a lot of ways you can prepare garden beds and of course there are perks and drawbacks to every system. Even in my garden there are years I do it differently because of the area I am in or the way the season has gone. If it is really wet, like it has been this year, it is a great time to manually prep your garden beds.
Yes, manually preparing your garden bed with sweat and time will be tiresome. However not getting the tractor stuck in the mud is solid reason to do this in the early soggy spring.
Here is the video of me preparing 2 of my garden beds.
Step 1: Till the Fall Before
Yes, this takes planning ahead of time but trust me this will make the spring seem easy peasy when it comes! We tilled this field about 3 times the previous year because there were extremely well established grass colonies that we needed to break up.
Step 2: Broadfork Your Garden Beds
The broadfork is a highly underrated garden tool that I believe every gardener should not be without. Broadforks break up your soil deep without obliterating the soil structure like a rototiller would. This means that your soil will be penetrable by roots, while still retaining fungal hypha networks and healthy mucorrhizae and bacterial colonies that will help your garden to flourish.
Another perk of using a broadfork is that you can get out in the garden earlier in the spring without worrying if your rototillers will compress the soil around your beds.
My boradfork is from meadow creature. They have a superb product and I don’t know what I would do without them. Their broadfork is all steel and made in the USA. Not only does the steel ensure the broadfork lasts forever, but the extra weight helps to push the tines into the soil. A really great broadfork and I am not getting paid to say this. I truly believe it from the bottom of my heart.
Step 3: Hoe it Up!
Tell yourself all the hoe jokes you can muster while you break up large soil chunks. While doing this you can also undercut all the weeds that have sprouted in your garden… if they have already sprouted like mine have.
This field was a cattle corral for a long time so I am not adding fertilizer this year. However, it is at this stage that you would add any compost or fertilizer. After adding, it can be chopped in with the rest of the soil.
Step 4: Rake it Out
Most of the time when I rake out my bed I use a standard rigid metal rake. But because these are the first beds of the season I am using my…… drum roll please…. HANDS! Yes the most accurate and versatile tool humans have. Doing this allows me to inspect the soil up close and personal. It also helps me get my hands dirty which I have been waiting for all winter!
What do you use to break up soil in your garden? Leave a comment down below!