Work in the Compost
Compost is an organic gardener's best friend (Image 1). Compost is fertilizer, mulch and weed preventer, all in one. If there is not a compost pile to draw from, then compost can be purchased by the bag or truckful. Because an organic garden won't have the benefit of synthetic fertilizers, the compost must be worked deeply into the soil. The deeper the compost is worked in to the soil, the easier a plant will grow into the soil. Then it can put all its energy into producing vegetables.
One way spread compost spread through garden soil is to till it in (Image 2). But not at the first tilling because the goal of the first tilling is to break up and clean out the soil. Going through the garden a second time to work in compost makes the soil even healthier.
The upper soil zone, the first 6" to 10", is where most of the small feeder roots grow on vegetable plants. To make sure these roots get the food they need, spread a 2" to 4" layer of compost (more if available) over the whole surface of the garden (Image 3). Remember, be generous. Make several passes to get the compost worked in well. Continue to rake any clods and rocks between passes. Once the ground is loose and the compost is fully mixed, divide the garden into individual beds.