The thing I like about the Conventional Hand-digging method of creating a garden is that all you need is a spade, a pair of sturdy boots, and enough determination not to be put off by hard work. Also, you get exercise that you might otherwise have to find the time/pay for. Another advantage is that it costs nothing, provided you have already acquired a spade and a pair of boots, and requires very little forward planning or the acquisition of necessary materials, which for some may cause logistical and financial dilemmas. It is a good method for impetuous or impatient people or people who like to fly by the seat of their pants Ďcause all you need to do is pull your boots on and leap out there.
The down sides are finding the time for all that fresh air and exercise, and the fact that chances are, you will slice through some worms, those sacred little munchers of the organic soil. And who needs to dig when the worms have been designed by Nature to do the work of soil preparation. Just feed them delicious food in the form of your composted recycled vegetation and they will work away, even as you sleep.
Another relatively simple method, half-way between Conventional Digging and the more supreme, worm-respecting and yet more complex No-Dig/Raised Garden method, is the Newspaper and Mulch approach.
All you need here is a yearís supply of newspaper, along with a trip to the local peastraw supplier at the right time of year. Donít leave it until just before harvest - itís probably been bought up. In a drought year, especially if living in out of the way places, (reliant on a freighted stash) get in early in the season. Donít wait until you have a towbar and trailer, use your car boot or the back of your stationwagon - forget being a townie, itís time to turn your car into a farm truck; if you donít even own a car, then wait until the perfect solution occurs to you. If you have a trailer, then you need never again take your life, as it is, for granted.
Once you have the newspaper and peastraw assembled, mow the lawn down very low to help kill the grass, then lay newspaper, three or four sheets thickness, or five or six thick for strong growing grass that spreads by runners. Cover the newspaper with peastraw or some other mulch - grass clippings sans seeds will do. In three or four months, your garden will be nearly ready. If starting this project in dry months, make sure the mulch and newspaper is well watered to help the decomposition process.
After three to four months, the soil will be easy to dig over. Rake the newspaper and mulch off to one side and start digging. If the peastraw and newspaper looks sufficiently decomposed, dig it in; if you donít like your soil so chunky, then the compost will enjoy it, so put it there.
Monica's discoveries are a work in progress and should not be taken as formal advice, especially where precise results are important