I wouldn't bother with a tiller, either. I have 96 square feet of veggies in some raised beds, plus two very small plots in the ground. They've been either mixed from scratch *or* double-dug with square shovel & pitchfork.
The combination of knowledge that clicked for me was
--long term: Sunset Western Garden Book
. This is the only place you'll find a detailed description of the gardening differences between, say, Berkeley, San Jose, and Lafayette (just picking 3 at random). The Sunset climate zone system is what works this magic.
--medium term: John Jeavons How to Grow More Vegetables...
I originally purchased the 2nd edition; last year I purchased the 7th. Terrific explanations re. soil building, composting, weed control.
--most recent: Mel Bartholomew, Square Foot Gardening
(2005 edition). By combining the best of what worked from SFG and Jeavons' recommendations for my specific situation, I've made (I think) the most of my minimal soil area.
will help a LOT for a small investment of time/labor. Depending on where the proposed veggie bed is, cover it with multiple layers of newspaper weighed down with rocks or bricks; cover it with landscape fabric secured with ground staples; or cover it with black plastic sheeting (non-biodegradable, unfortunately) and secure with ground staples. Keep in place for 6 weeks or so to deprive weeds of sunlight, air, etc. They will die.
I've used well-aimed boiling water
to kill weeds in pavement cracks, along the edge of the driveway, or to weaken weeds in soil which have proven recalcitrant to removal with my weeder (aka asparagus knife, weeding stick). Bringing the seeds of some weeds to the surface will only prolong the agony, as some plants' seeds will wait for up to a century to germinate.
Other gardeners report success with vinegar
I've been hand-pulling
, using boiling water, using the weed stick, etc. for a while now. I find that it usually takes a 3-year campaign to completely remove a given species, but vigilance is the price of victory b/c my next-door neighbor uses a weed whacker, which simply spreads the seed pods, root fragments, etc. back to my place. They grow again when the conditions favor them... *sigh*
I've removed Yellow Star Thistle, prickly lettuce, redstem filaree, burr clover, dandelions, wild onion, and a couple of weeds whose names I don't know. I'm in mid-campaign on foxtail grass and oxalis. Getting out as much of the root as possible is key to long-term success. Due to personal health problems, I can work only for 15 or so minutes at a time, so persistence over long periods of time is the *only* way I can succeed with weed campaigns without chemicals.
So you're looking at a low-cost, non-toxic effort here, so far as I can tell.
Whereabouts in the Bay Area are you?
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9