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Digging

UK Garden Centre - Advice on how to dig a seed bed

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· Choose a spade which is suited to your height and strength. Keep the blade clean.
· Choose the right day. The ground must be neither frozen nor saturated. If possible pick a time of settled weather when rain is not forecast for at least a few hours.
· Begin slowly. About 30 minutes is quite enough for the first day if you are not used to strenuous exercise.
· Insert the blade vertically, not at an angle. Annual weeds can be turned in but roots of perennial weeds should be removed.
· Leave the soil in lumps – frost will break down the clods during winter.
· Never bring subsoil to the surface – raw clay, chalk or sand will ruin the fertility.

Don’t try to dig and make a seed bed in one operation. The time for digging is during a dry spell in late autumn or early winter if you plan to sow or plant in spring. Dig out a trench about 1 ½ ft (45cm) wide and 1 spit (spade-depth) deep at the front of the plot and transport the soil to the back.
Spread compost over the surface of the area to be enriched with humus (see ‘crop rotation’). Now begin to dig the plot – invert a 4-6in (10-15cm) wide strip of soil into the trench in front. Move back, turning over each successive strip until a final trench is formed. Fill this with the soil brought over from the first trench.
Once every 3 years it is wise to carry out double digging in order to break up the compacted layer which may have formed below the depth of digging. This calls for forking over the bottom of each trench with a garden fork before turning over the soil from the adjacent strip.


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