The plow was invented to allow farming of larger and larger areas of land back when land was in
abundance and there were no concerns about space requirements. The primary feeder of the family used
to be the smaller scale garden. It should still be! We are talking survival here, not the few feeding the
many! Modern agricultural techniques allow one farmer to feed 100+ people. In the distant past, one
horticulturist could feed 6 people. The horticulturist acted alone. The farmer still depends on many
people to get his crop delivered. The modern farmer along with all his co-workers in the distribution
chain still only provides enough food for 6 people. The ratio hasn't changed, only the methodology.
I have grown up with raised bed gardening. My father had over 4000 square feet of raised beds when I was a kid. He fed a family of 6 quite well, as well as the neighbors, and has been a long time member of Seed Savers Exchange. Each year he would apply composted material on each bed, then he would use a digging fork (potato fork or root fork) to turn the compost into the dirt. My father has since reduced his garden size. Now that he is older and doesn't have us kids around to help, he uses a small cultivator-type tiller to mix the compost into the soil and he heavily mulches the walkways.
My family garden is close to 500 square feet. I cut each bed right out of the sod, leaving the proposed walkways alone, and edged each bed with cedar. Each year I spread compost and mix it in. I have done this with a digging fork, but use a cultivator as well. Raking and maintaining the bed shape is a breeze compared to what I grew up with since I have basically made boxes to contain the soil. Also, I have never had a problem with compaction! I turn the soil to mix in nutrients, not to loosen it up!
Offered by Roger.