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Techniques : Digging

Use the spade edge to bury weeds and debris

Use the spade edge to bury weeds and debris

Digging with a spade is the main method of cultivating garden soil. The idea is to break the hard surface of the top-soil, mix the upper and lower layers and bury dead plant material, weeds or manure.

Digging to the depth of a garden spade is adequate for most purposes. Take spadefuls of reasonable size, and make sure to turn the spadeful upside down. Break up lumps with the back or the edge of the spade. Dig a piece of ground in stages. Ease into it, doing very little the first day.

Carry out as much digging as possible before the year ends to allow winter frosts to break down lumps, making the soil easier to get ready for seed sowing or planting, and to expose hibernating pests and diseases to predators and to harsh weather.

Dig in organic material, such as rotted manure, compost, straw or peat if the ground is being prepared for permanent planting. Each year, part of the vegetable area should have organic material applied to maintain soil structure.

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