It is debateable, some say digging destroys the soils structure and others say it is necesarry to avoid creating a hard pan in the soil.Each situation is different depending on the history of your plot. I try not to dig my soil and simply mulch in the Autumn with well rotted compost or well rotted manure then cover these vacant areas with cardboard until the spring. The covering will protect the soil from erosion during the winter months and the worms will pull the mulch into the soil during this time. No weed seeds will germinate and no air born seeds can penetrate the covering. Come the spring I can remove the cardboard as necesarry and reveal lovely soil.
I tend to seek a compromise on dig/nodig. I believe it is important to airate the soil to improve the decomposition of organic matter so I tend to just stick my fork right in and wiggle it about. It disturbs the soil ever so slightly and loosens it up.
Good advice for weed control Daniel. Many thanks. So much can be achieved by adding material to the soil surface rather than digging.
Anyone taking over a weed infested allotment could well do with following your advice – covering the ground with compost (or spent hops) then a membrane, and planting through this. I've tried something similar in the past myself, and it really helps smother and kill problem weeds, and prevents more annual ones germinating.
I think planting through a membrane will help me in my extreme old age, Adam, and, as for extra watering ,I already have a large waterbutt by the veg.garden which is filled from a caravan roof but I have a spare one in the butterfly garden which I will move down to the new beds and let it fill up over the winter. Thanks for the warning, Adam.