Most soils contain the necessary plant food elements to a considerable extent, but only in a very limited degree in available forms. They are locked up in the soil, and only after undergoing physical and chemical changes may be taken up by the feeding roots of plants.
They are unlocked only by the disintegration and decomposition of the soil particles, under the influence of cultivation or mechanical breaking up and the access of water, air and heat.
The approximate amount of available organic plant food already contained in the soil can be determined satisfactorily only by experiment. However, almost without exception they will need liberal applications of garden manure to produce good garden crops.
If the breaking up of the garden must be done by hand, have it done deeply down to the sub-soil, or as deep as the spading-fork will go. And have it done thoroughly, every spadeful turned completely and every inch dug. It is hard work, but it should not be skipped.
That is the first step toward the preparation of a successful garden out of the way. Next you need to break up and level the lumps with a garden hoe.
The last step is the “fining.” This is best done with the rake, but whatever implements are used, do not forget the great importance of making the soil thoroughly fine, not only at the surface, but as far as possible below, even under the necessity of repetition.
Prepare your garden deeply, thoroughly, carefully, in addition to making it rich, and you may then turn to those more interesting operations such as sowing and planting, with the assurance that your thought and labor will be rewarded by a garden so remarkably more successful than the average garden is, that all your extra pains will be richly repaid.