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Digging Tips for Gardeners

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Digging in your garden doesn't have to be simple drudgery and leave you with a backache. This is a page about digging tips for gardeners.


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When digging with a shovel you can damage the sole of your shoe, especially plastic boots.

This is a tip to protect your shoes. Cut a piece of a strong garden hose the size of the part of the edge of the shovel you put your foot on to push the shovel down.

Cut open the piece of garden hose with a strong blade on one side only and then slide it on the edge of the shovel. It will protect the sole of your plastic shoe from getting cut through by the edge of the shovel which are sometimes very sharp.

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April 16, 2012

Digging garden soil can either be a pain in your back, or an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon outdoors. Here are some helpful tips to make this necessary garden chore easier, safer, and more enjoyable.


The Basics of Digging by Hand

For most gardeners, hand-digging is the main method of cultivating the soil. It's the best way to break up compact clumps and introduce air into the soil while reducing erosion and minimizing the disturbance of microorganisms. Digging by hand also enables you to work organic matter into the lower levels, increasing the depth of the topsoil.

Use the Right Tool for the Job


The Best Time to Dig

A good time to dig a new bed is during a dry fall day when the soil is neither too dry and hard nor too wet and sticky. (Never dig when the soil is wet enough to stick to your boots or you risk compacting its structure.) If digging in heavy soils, simply leave the rough clumps overturned and unbroken until the following spring, so they can be broken down and softened by Mother Nature over winter.

Digging to Improve Drainage

There is a lot you can do to improve poor drainage by digging and incorporating organic matter into your existing soil. If the problem is mainly due to heavy soil, dig deeply and amend the soil with 2 buckets of gravel and 2 buckets of organic matter per square yard (adjust this ratio as necessary). Another option is to skip the digging altogether in favor of constructing raised beds over the area you want to plant.

Digging in Light Soils

Light, sandy soils crumble to a fine tilth while digging. Because they drain easily, nutrients tend to leech out quickly. To help minimize this, keep bare soil covered throughout the winter by sowing a cover crop like alfalfa in fall and digging it in (turning it under) a few weeks before planting.

Stay Safe and Protect Your Back

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