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How to dig a plot

March 14th, 2007 by Karsten

The process of digging over your plot is the start of the gardeners year - the time to prepare your plot for the coming seasons growing - and usually takes place from late autumn to early spring.

When you dig your plot you start out by marking up the site to be dug over, dig a trench about 1½ foot wide at the front of the plot, and transport the soil you dig out to the bottom of the plot. Then you continue to dig the trench towards the bottom of your plot - only now you turn the soil you dig out over into the previously dug out trench.

Digging Techniques.

The most commonly used digging technique is called single digging. Using this method you dig your trench one spade (or spit) deep.

The single digging method is sufficient in most cases - but you will find that some keen vegetable growers use the double digging method once every 3 years or so - in order to break up the compacted layer below the depth of digging. This is, however, extremely hard work - because the subsoil (as it is called) is very compact, particularly on plots where the process hasn’t been carried out previously.

There is a third digging method - called b*stard-digging by people in the gardening profession. The exact benefit of using this method (going deeper than 2 spits) is not quite clear to me - but I suppose it’s for people wanting to grow large sized root-produce (carrots, parsnips, leeks etc.) for competition purposes.

How to “cheat”

There’s two alternatives to the above mentioned methods - one of which I am using on my plot - as I’ll show you below. The first of these methods is, of cause, rotavating. This method is particularly useful for plots that has already been dug over in previous years - and it can be used even when you want to add organic matter to the soil. It’s not the ideal thing to do if your plot is plagued by couch grass, or similar weeds, that spread via bits of roots.

The other alternative I’ve chosen to call single-double digging. This is the method I’m using on my plot - and it works as follows:


1. Dig your trench 1 spit deep, and ensure that no bits of soil is left on the bottom.


2. Fill the trench to the top with organic matter (in my case horsemanure).


3. Dig your trench back, turning the soil over onto the manure, and dig any bits of soil off the bottom onto the manure as well.

4. Start back at step 1.

What this does in effect resembles the method of double digging - though I’m only doing single digging - because I’m adding a lot of organic matter to the bottom of the trench. With the help of my underground friends - this will be turned into a nice layer of soil in a years time.

While not as labour intensive as doing double digging - it’s quite time-consuming - and requires access to a LOT of organic matter.

Happy digging!

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