Gardening > Dig Your Garden

Dig Your Garden


Dig Your Garden
© Arsty

It would be very difficult to grow anything in the garden if the soil were not first dug. Digging breaks up compacted soil and helps the garden to drain properly. It also incorporates air into the soil and provides an opportunity for the gardener to work organic matter into the plot.

The first requirements when digging are a spade and fork of correct size for the gardener. It is best to buy tools that feel comfortable and are not too big and heavy. Buy the best that you can afford because cheap tools are often a false economy. A good forged steel fork with a wooden handle and a stainless steel spade are probably the best choices.

Single digging means to dig down to the depth of one spade. Double digging means to dig to the depth of one spade and then use the whole of the depth of the fork to loosen the subsoil below.

Single Digging

1/ Dig a trench about 1 spade wide and the depth of one spade at one end of the plot.
2/ Put the soil dug out of the first trench into a wheel barrow.
3/ Spread about 3 inches of manure over the bottom of the trench.
4/ Dig a second trench, throwing the soil over the manure in the first trench.
5/ Carry on until the whole plot has been dug and manured.
6/ Fill the final trench with the soil in the barrow.

Double Digging

1/ Dig a trench about 2 foot wide and the depth of 1 spade at one end of the plot.
2/ Put the dug out earth into a wheel barrow.
3/ Drive your fork into the bottom of the trench to 1 fork’s depth.
4/ Loosen the earth with the fork.
5/ Spread 3 inches of manure over the bottom of the trench.
6/ Start the second trench and throw the earth into the first trench.
7/ Carry on in the same way until the whole plot is dug and manured.
8/ Use the soil in the barrow to fill up the last trench.

Never dig when the soil is wet and sticky. If you do this you can damage the basic structure of the soil. Heavy soil should be dug in the autumn so that a maximum surface area can be exposed to the elements. Light soils are better sown with green manure that will over winter and retain the moisture and thus the nutrients. The green manure can then be dug in in the spring and in the process the plot will be dug.

A rotivator can be of enormous help for digging large plots but it cannot be used on the same soil year after year since this can “glaze” the earth creating a layer through which water cannot pass.

Always try to remove as many perennial weed roots as possible when digging and remember to clean your fork and spade when you’ve finished.