I live in Massachusetts, zone 6a. I have been gardening for several years but do not consider myself very well educated in gardening, we (my dad and I) mainly just wing it. We have had issues with pests and disease in the past. Our veggie garden was a raised bed and was quite small. I try to grow everything from seed if possible (starting most indoors) as that's what I really enjoy the most about gardening.
This fall we moved and would like to start a veggie garden again. We live in a condo so the garden will be at my grandparents house a few streets over. We were not planning on doing a raised bed this time, but were just going to go into the ground, so were going to rent a roto-tiller and till it this weekend, then plant. But now that I've started reading about starting gardens it seems that doing this might leave me with a severe weed problem. Plus some people are saying tilling destroys the beneficial fauna in the ground.
So my main question is, what is the best way to turn an area of backyard into a garden in a short time? The backyard has grass but it's not like a thick beautiful lawn, it's patchy, some areas are dirt. I have cold weather plants that need to get into the ground soon (like right now). Plus seeds that needs to be sown directly. In years past we have always put cold weather plants out too late, I've yet to actually get ]brussels sprouts, it's always too warm, and most of the broccoli flowers very quickly. I was really hoping after tilling this weekend we could get right to planting. So what are my best options?
I was also curious about the actual set up. Do most people do multiple beds or one plot with everything in it? I often read about people planting on mounds which we've never done (and I don't really want to), is it necessary to do that? This is not going to be a huge garden, but bigger than we had before. We haven't decided exactly how large to make it yet. We have to sit down and figure out how large it needs to be to fit the number of plants we want. I want to space appropriately as we always crowded things before and I think that led to many of our disease issues. Right now we're planning to plant:
Tomatoes (several varieties)
Walla Walla Onions
Butternut Squash (butterbush)
We also have herbs but I'm not sure if those will go in the ground or stay in containers.
Any advice on getting started and preparing the ground would be very much appreciated!