Whether you're beginning a new garden or adding on to an existing plot, preparing the soil is one of the most important tasks that you will do. Spending extra time here will pay off when it's time to harvest your garden. Plants will grow better and produce more food in rich soil with lots of organic matter. Making the dirt smooth and free from rocks and roots will help in food production and make room for any root crops that you may want to grow.
Place a stick in the ground in each corner of your proposed garden and run a string around the entire area. Make sure that you have chosen a spot that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day, is well drained and not in a lower part of your yard. Higher ground drains better and not stay muddy as long as lower ground.
Dig a strip of ground on one edge of the new garden plot. Make the strip about 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide. Place all of the dirt that you remove into a wheelbarrow or on top of a tarp to hold it until later.
Dig another foot-wide strip in your plot right next to the first. Remove all the rocks and roots from the dirt in the second row, then place the dirt in the hole created from the first row.
Dig a third row in the plot, removing all of the rocks and roots. Place all of the dirt from the third row into the hole created by digging the second row. Continue this way until you have dug the last row in the garden area. Fill the last row with the dirt that you removed from the first row, making sure that all of the roots and stones have been taken out.
Place a 4-inch layer of compost on top of the entire garden plot and turn over the dirt on the entire surface to mix the compost with the soil.
Attach a rain gauge to a fence or a post in the ground near the garden plot. This will aid in determining how much water you will need to add each week after your garden is planted.