From the Book of Home Gardening, 1888:

Till gardens with a plow, fork or spade, not too deep since weed seeds will be plowed in. Smooth the tilled soil, cover well with leaf mold or compost. Cover with two inches of mulch that will turn to compost. Use space to plant seeds or small plants in the soil underneath. When weeds appear, use a garden knife or sharp blade to cut off only the roots, without disturbing much surrounding soil.