One of the first things the beginner has to learn is to prepare a seed bed. A properly prepared vegetable seed bed of this kind should contain the three requirements for successful germination, i.e., air, warmth, and moisture. In order to produce these conditions a good deal of forking and raking has to be done.
The bed, too, must be prepared in such a way that all the particles of soil are in a fine condition. It is generally stated no larger than a grain of wheat. If the land is left rough then the small seeds may fall into the crevices thus formed, or large portions of the un pulverized soil may bury them.
It is usually more difficult to get heavy soil into the vegetable seed bed condition than it is light soil, and for this reason the heavier clays should be prepared some time beforehand. Land that has to be used for seed beds under such conditions may then be left in a rough condition throughout the winter, so that the action of the weather and the frost will help to produce a kind of tilth which no amount of personal labor can achieve. In the case of lighter soils, regular cultivation and hoeing should be done deliberately and systematically; it will be found that seed will grow better than in soil which has been left undisturbed for some time.
Some seed beds may be improved by the addition of in the case of heavy soils, sand and in the case of light soils, finely ground peat or well sifted exhausted manure. In the former case the sand is used to help aerate the soil and in the case of latter to help retain moisture and to give a good medium into which the roots may grow.