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The Secret To Keeping Your Beds Clean: The Bed Preparation Rake

Having a great rake in your tool shed is an imperative part of every market garden. There is no doubt that a good bed preparation rake is a must on a farm. In this article, we will present some insights on which rake to use, and detail the many ways that your rake will come in handy.

What Is a Bed Preparation Rake?

A bed preparation rake is a flat rake with preferably a 30 in (75 cm) width in order to properly fit the permanent bed system adopted by many market gardeners. Any rake with that measurement can work, but for years we have used the one manufactured by Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Made from aluminum and lightweight for easy use, it has twenty 4 in (10 cm) curved teeth that can collect debris and plant matter from your bed both smoothly and efficiently. 

Jean-Martin Fortier developed his own model manufactured by Growers & Co. This improved rake is even more robust, durable and just as lightweight.

Different Uses for Your Bed Preparation Rake

Your bed rake is a multifunctional tool that you will end up using almost daily for the many tasks that can arise on a farm or garden.

Here are some of the best practices that we employ:

  • In order to create a uniform bed for seeding, start by using your rake to remove any debris or rocks that may be left on your beds. Keep your rake focused on the first few inches of the soil to avoid bringing too many rocks up to the surface. Just gently pass it along the top of your bed and clear away anything that would impact the successful establishment of your seeds.
  • In order to bring the various rocks and debris into the aisles, pass your rake by doing diagonal streaks across the bed and remember to stand upright by keeping the rake slightly behind you while you walk alongside your bed (keeping your feet in the aisles).
  • Your bed preparation rake can also be super helpful for spreading amendments, such as compost. For this task, use the back of the rake to spread the compost evenly over the surface. The result creates a more uniformly fertile bed, which is beneficial for supporting your crop’s overall health and yields.
Using the rake to spread compost. / Credit : Alex Chabot
Using the rake to spread compost. / Credit : Alex Chabot

Lastly, the bed preparation rake is great for marking rows on your bed before transplanting. It can be used as a more affordable replacement to a dibbler. For this hack, you will need to become equipped with the row markers or use some PEX tubing. Simply insert those in the tines at the right spacing between the rows of your crop and pass the rake over the prepared bed.

Using row markers on a market gardening rake. / Credit : Alex Chabot
Using row markers on a market gardening rake. / Credit : Alex Chabot

By marking rows both in length and in width, you will create a grid pattern for transplanting. At this step, make sure to walk in a straight line in order to facilitate the weeding process for your designated rows.

Although there are many options to choose from, small-scale farmers should definitely use the model of rake that best suits their needs. Our recommendation is that the 30 in (75 cm) rake is truly a must-have for bed preparation. For more information about how to use it, check out the instructional video made by Growers & Co.

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