When I was growing up I never liked to make my bed and I still don't to this day, but when it comes to making up a garden bed that is a different story. Every time I prep a bed for planting I do it a little different and I learn something new in the process. I think I have got my method down pretty good so here is what I do. Some of this may be common sense to the veteran gardeners out there, but I wanted to share my method.
Step 1: First you need a bed that needs some work like this one. This is my snow pea bed. I am going to plant eggplants and bell peppers here and need to get it ready.
Step 2: You are going to need some soil amendments. Most of the time my beds lose about an inch of soil every 3 to 6 months. Most times I go to the big box stores and buy a bag or two of mushroom compost or cow manure. This time I needed a truck load of something because I have another project that requires some soil. My local nursery has an excellent "vegetable mix" as they call it. It has everything you need and it only costs $42 dollars a yard. That is the same price many places charge you for just plain top soil.
Step 3: Work your soil amendments into the soil to level off the bed. I like to take a board and screed the bed so it is nice and flat.
Step 4: Next I lay down my weed fabric and tie my string grids to the bed. The weed fabric is worth the cost and the little bit of extra time it takes to install. This bed will not need to be weeded. The only time I don't put down fabric is if I am planting something that is a lot of seeds and would be a hassle to cut a lot of holes, like corn or peas. The grids are a carry over from the square foot gardening method, and I like to set them after I put my fabric down. This makes centering and spacing the plants easier.
Step 5: Lay out your plants where you want them to go. In my case I have four eggplants and four bell peppers each centered in the two foot grids.
Step 6: Cut holes around your plants and plant them in the openings. I mound my soil around each plant and water thoroughly. I will add bamboo supports to the plants when they grow a little taller.