The beginning of March is when beds become ready for a couple of rounds of hoeing and raking to create the fine tilth suitable for sowing direct or planting module-raised plants.
Having been not digging now for 3 years, I have found that each spring, the soil becomes more responsive to the hoe and rake, perhaps through better soil structure, better drainage courtesy of the work of earthworms and the cumulative effects of compost overwintering on top of the soil.
There are two main aims for the hoeing/raking:
1. Killing the weed seedlings which emerge in the spring.
2. Creating the fine tilth suitable for seeds and young seedlings.
As a result, starting this too early is counterproductive, as ungerminated weed seeds will still be in the soil, whereas hoeing young seedlings will kill them.
I tend to do two cycles about two weeks apart, with the timetable linked to what I am planting and when.
Thus, I hoed and raked areas today, 4th March, into which I will sow/plant Amsterdam Forcing Carrots, spring turnips and early radish in mid March.
I also chose today because, in the biodynamic system championed by Maria Thun, carrots, turnips and radish are root crops and today the moon resides in the earth sign Taurus. The optimum dates to carry out all activities to do with root crops are when the moon resides the earth signs of taurus, virgo and capricorn.
Obviously, not everybody can find time on the perfect days, so aiming to do two or three rounds of hoeing/raking a week apart is a sensible compromise.
I use a Hydra Hoe and Perseus Rake from Implementations Ltd. These tools are both made of copper, an element beneficial to soil life. Experiments were carried out in the early 20th century by the Austrian Viktor Schauberger, which demonstrated improved crop yields using copper tools.