Lucky for me, the warmish winter means that bed preparation can start in early April, since the ground is not that frozen - and I actually busted out some short-sleeved shirts while I did it!
A combination of activities has been taking place - adding horse manure from the neighbor's horses, compost (from Tuthill Farms in Whitmore Lake), a fertilizer mix (a variety of ground-up rock, kelp, and seedmeal), and wood ash from our woodstove to the beds. After all the amendments are added, I then stomp a pitchfork into the ground and lift it a bit to loosen up the soil and allow those amendments to work themselves a little deeper into the ground. Then, after all of that is done, I use the rotary harrow attachment on my two-wheel tractor to mix it all in and make the bed smooth and flat (or as smooth and flat as it can be with clumps of clay in it).
You might have noticed that my "soil" looks suspiciously like clay. That's because it is. Most of where I have been growing was decimated during our house construction, when not only was the clay excavated from our basement spread around on the fields, the clay from the septic tank drainfield was as well. And even though the topsoil was supposedly spread back on top, it didn't seem to survive the excavation to bury our geothermal loops. So....I shovel. A. Lot. I add organic matter however I can, and eventually, I hope to make these field beds as dark and rich as the garden beds I have been amending for 9 years.
Oh, and after all this was done, I put wood chips in between the rows. This suppresses weeds, gives me a nice path to walk on, and make worms and fungi happy. They break down the wood chips in the process, which builds the soil too.
Plants from the solanceae family - potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, etc. are not supposed to be grown in the same place for at least 3 years. This is meant to break pest and diseases cycles, which can hang around in the soil. Since tomatoes and potatoes are some of my favorite things to eat (and grow), I find myself making new beds on a regular basis, just to rotate them around to new ground. This ground should have been prepped in the fall. But it wasn't. As is so common for this venture...what can be put off 'Till Tomorrow is. Until it can't be anymore.