The best technique I’ve tried when starting new gardening beds is the lasagna method or the no-dig method. This method will save your back, trying to till in cement-hard ground… The idea is simple:
- put down cardboard or old newspapers, straight on the grass where you want your bed to be.
- cover the cardboard with straw, manure and all the compostable materials you can get your hands on: coffee grounds, egg peels, old vegetables…
- add some more manure and top it off with a fine layer of soil (store bought is great, but I use soil that I find in my garden and that works too).
What you want is a good mixture of materials that will trick the earthworms up from the ground to eat on all the compostable material you added on the ground and then turn it into dark and nutritious soil. For extra great result, I try to find manure packed with worms already. They will love their new environment and boost up the decomposing in a few month.
You can plant directly into the bed or wait a few months. I usually start directly with potatoes since it grows down AND upwards. Thanks to the deep root system of potatoes, the next season your new garden bed will be 1-2 feet deep and you can easily remove any stone in a soil that is easy to work in.