preparing a garden bed part 3: the "finer" points

So, I realized that there are some of the finer points that I have neglected to share in part one and part two.

I started from the beginning with this herb bed, and took some shots of the process that I did not include in parts one and two posted earlier.  This third part should clarify the specifics a bit.

Here are specific instructions on the sod cutting and soil amendment processes:

  • After locking in on the shape of the bed, use the planting shovel to cut vertically into the sod at the outside edge of the bed.
  • From there, cut the sod at a 45º angle towards the vertical cut. You’ll have something that looks like this:


  • THEN, you work the sod free by keeping the shovel under the roots.  Take great care to keep the cut parallel to the ground surface.  

Here’s a closeup:



As you can see, the idea is to get the sod off, but keep the soil…

Here is the finished product of that step:


In the bed are the tools of the trade for the next step, the GREAT FUN of loosening and mixing the soil!

Use the mattock to break up the compacted soil.  To this bed, I added about 3-4 inches of planting compost, and in order to have soil for happy plants, I till down down a minimum of 6″.  I love the idea of no till gardening, but in this case, this is the fastest way to get a garden going that will have an instant impact in the kitchen.


At this point, I’ll use a long handled cultivator and the hand tiller to break up all the clumps of soil (especially important with the heavy clay soils in these here parts).


After raking over nicely, I’ll amend with fertilizer and compost and mix in well.



Here is when taking the time to really prep the bed well pays off. I was able to plant these herbs in less than 10 minutes.  After this bed is complete there will be few varieties of thyme, sage and oregano, plus some rosemary and dill, a few of which will stick around year after year. 

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About Mark

I am a busy guy; husband, father, coach, mentor, gardener, outdoors man and cook are the primary hats I wear. To be the best of these I can be, I stay physically prepared for all those pursuits, and feed myself in a way that allows me to keep up the pace. I can help you to take the next manageable step in fitness and wellness to get you closer to your ideal self.