A backyard is no place for a farm. My earliest vegetable gardens were small-scale imitations of large-scale farms. I rototilled the soil, spread bagged chemical fertilizer all around and built neat hills and straight furrows. I worked as a tractor. Then I unleashed a flood of water to fill the furrows and bring life to the land. I engineered like a god. Months later, I would make my daily rounds to harvest what I could from the hard, gray soil that was cracking under the intense summer sun. Farming was a tough life.
Did it have to be so tough? In reading about vegetable growing, I discovered that it did not.
The key to successful gardening is taking good care of the soil. By deeply cultivating the soil and adding plenty of organic matter and natural fertilizers, I not only increased the production of my garden many times over but also entered into a new relationship with my soil. I tended it and nurtured it, and my backyard farm gradually became a garden.
If you’re making a new bed on the unbroken ground, use a spading shovel to cut the edges. Then loosen the ground with a digging fork, thrusting it as deep into the soil as you can. Rock the handle back to loosen and lift the soil, but try not to turn it over. Remember that soil is a vibrant ecosystem that suffers if it’s exposed to too much light and air. So just wiggle the fork around to make it easier for roots to penetrate. Deep cultivation will encourage the roots to grow downward. If you can dig your bed only 6 to 8 inches deep the first year, don’t worry. Earthworms and plant roots will penetrate even farther, loosening the soil so that you can dig a little deeper the following year.
I don’t use a rototiller to loosen the soil. Excessive mechanical tillingRead more on finegardening.com