Gardening - Vegetables: Selecting & Planting
The first step in preparing vegetable gardens for planting is cleaning the site. Remove boards, rocks, old plant supports and general debris. Cut or chop weeds and crop residue. If the residue is free of disease and mature weed seed, the material may be worked into the soil or composted. Otherwise, it should be discarded. Bulky plant material, like corn stalks, will need to be chopped before it is incorporated into the soil.
If initiating a new garden into a sodded area, it is beneficial to plow the sod in the late fall or winter. The heavy root system of the sod will require several months to decompose. The excess root mass makes tillage and planting difficult. As soil organisms begin to decompose large amounts of organic matter, they utilize available nitrogen. As the process continues, nitrogen is released that can be used by the plants. However, it is often 45 to 60 days before the nitrogen becomes available for the plant to use.
"SP291-C-Soil Preparation for Vegetable Gardens," The University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, SP291C-2M-6/03(Rev) E12-5115-00-020-03, http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_agexgard/39