Rain and snow melt make spring veggie garden prep a challenge every year, but once I can get into the garden, I have a yearly regime that ensures good crop growth while minimizing weeds. Turning, tilling, and covering (with amendment) are the three practices that enable me to garden productively, even when time is limited.
Some areas in my vegetable garden are "no till." These include beds with perennial and winter crops, like asparagus, garlic, strawberries and hardy herbs, as well as well-amended spots that are already in good shape below ground. In these areas, I simply add a cover of compost and gently turn them with a garden fork, breaking up the top soil a bit before adding a layer of protective compost.
There are several bed areas that are tilled yearly. In these spots, I add double amendment. First, I put a layer of compost down to till in, then I rake and berm bed spaces. Finally I add a second layer of compost to further enrich the soil and protect against weeds. This is extra important in tilled areas because the practice of tilling brings lots of weed seeds to the surface.
In addition to adding a compost mulch layer, I protect and define walkways with leaf mulch, straw or hay, and grass clippings. These natural mulches stop weeds and make it easier to traverse the garden in wet, muddy weather. They also hold water and keep root zones cool on hot summer days. By fall's end, they have usually broken down into accessible organic matter.