<aside> 💡 There are lots of different ways to do bed prep, you can single or double dig, you can rotovate. You can apply surface compost mulch and/or chop and drop the previous crop. You can sow and let frost kill a cover crop, or till it in. You can mow and cover the previous crop with landscape fabric for a few weeks to kill it and the weeds. All of these are tried and tested techniques, with their own pros and cons and hundreds of books have been written about them. This chapter just describes what I do most of the time. For more details on specific crops see my individual growing guides.


I'm just a little bit obsessed with bed prep as I see it as both one of the most basic skills of gardening and one of the most important. In an ideal world I would put all of my allotment time into 5 key activities:

  1. Preparing the bed for planting
  2. Planting
  3. Harvesting
  4. Chatting
  5. Relaxing

Unfortunately if you don't get your bed prep right it can often look more like this:

  1. Clearing and composting the previous crop
  2. Preparing the bed for planting
  3. Planting
  4. Weeding
  5. Watering
  6. Feeding

with surprisingly little: harvesting, chatting and relaxing

Good bed prep can definitely mean getting closer to living the good life! So let's take a look at what I'm defining as bed prep and then we will dive into the details.

What is bed preparation

<aside> 💡 Please read the chapter on looking after your soil, in conjunction with this one. There's some minor duplication, but otherwise they complement each other


I have a fairly broad definition of bed preparation, that in a single unhelpful phrase can be summed up as 'everything needed before planting', which I cover in this section. Let's turn that phrase into a multi-step process that's more useful: