How to dig the soil for the vegetable garden

How to dig the soil for the vegetable garden

There digging it is a very important activity to be carried out at ground level to prepare it for cultivation.

This is why it is important to know how to dig the land for the vegetable gardenbe it a home garden or a large vegetable garden.

In this article we will see in detail how to dig, what are the tools we will need and how to check that the digging has been done correctly.

Digging is the last step of soil preparation to cultivation.

On land that has never been cultivated before, or on those that have always been cultivated with the same seeds for years, it is necessary to carry out preliminary activities that then allow a good digging.

Clean the ground

There soil cleaning it is the first thing to do when cultivating land that has never been cultivated before, or has remained uncultivated for many months.

In the meantime it will have in fact been colonized by weeds and animals, at best, and it will need to be cleaned to proceed with the tillage.

On large soils, some growers still prefer to use a herbicide, that is a chemical product that removes weeds in a short time.

However, the product is still absorbed by the soil which we will then sow. For this herbicide is not always the best choice, and indeed it is an absolutely forbidden choice for those who want to start an organic cultivation.

In this case, the best extirpation that remains of weeds manual. To do this, it is good to use rubber-bottomed gloves and weed out one by one by tearing the roots.

Only by eliminating the roots can we make sure that they do not reappear soon, and it would be a serious damage to the growth of the plants to be cultivated.

To speed up cleaning times you can use tools, such as the hoe. The hoeing must in any case be superficial, maximum 5 cm deep, otherwise the digging process would be anticipated when the soil is not yet clean.

At this point, when the soil is clean, we proceed with the operations generally called “tillage”.

Working the land means moving the earth in order to break it up and break it up. The earth, in fact, tends to compact over time, making it difficult to add new crops.

There tillage is done through two methods: one manual, which includes our dig, and one mechanic, which uses mechanical equipment to reduce work execution times.

Digging is now carried out in small-medium sized companies. In extensive crops, for reasons of time, mechanical processing is much more widespread.

The digging takes place by means of a tool suitable for moving the ground, the spade.

There are different types of spades, and each one is suitable for different types of soil: the pointed spade for compact soils, flat toe for previously worked, soft soils, the digging fork, especially useful for not turning the clod upside down, and the tecnovanga, a new typology that saves back fatigue.

The question of turn or not the clod it is much discussed among growers. In fact, two lines of thought are formed: those who still turn over the clods of soil, passing what was under the most superficial part, and those who believe that this method is not ideal for obtaining a soft and balanced soil.

This last point relies on the fact that the soil is rich in microorganisms that settle autonomously in the portion of sod that is most suitable for their biological cycle.

If a microorganism lives well at a depth of twenty centimeters, turning the sod and bringing it to the surface, in contact with the air and the sun, could affect its life itself, and thus upset the balance of the soil.

For this reason, it is recommended to overturn only the first ten centimeters of soil, and to proceed with digging that, yes, move the soil, but do not alter its internal balance.

When and how to dig

Ideally, digging should reach a maximum depth of 40 cm of the soil, reaching the deepest roots of the garden plants.

We said that digging must be done before sowing or the planting of the plant; the when, precisely, should be scheduled according to the time available.

If we have the opportunity to organize the sowing in precise times, we can schedule the digging two-three weeks before planting the plants.

To be safe, we can dig 20 days and 10 days before cultivation, proceeding with one double digging.

In this way we are sure to have a very soft soil ready to become a perfect vegetable garden.

Underestimating digging is a very serious mistake which, in most cases, already compromises the success of a vegetable garden.

In addition to the fact that, in order to fertilize the soil before planting the plants, a digging operation must still be performed - and indeed, fertilization and digging can be done at the same time -, not digging the soil would mean encountering many diseases in the garden, first of all water stagnation.

THE water stagnation, which compromise the root system of plants by preventing their correct growth, are often related to undrained or poorly drained soil, full of compact blocks of earth that do not allow the passage of water.

This is why digging is necessary: ​​it affects the health of our plants and our vegetable garden.

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Digging is aimed at till the earth and turn it over so that the deepest part remains exposed to light and air while the upper, more exploited part is underground. In general, the most suitable period for this intervention in the vegetable garden is late autumn, when even the last crops are finished, as the soil, exposed to the cold of winter, easily shatters in the following spring. However it is always possible to dig in early spring, when the soil is dry from thaws and rains.

The procedure

It is necessary to dig sufficiently deep. The spades on the market are long from 25 to 30 cm and, if well operated, they allow you to turn over quite deep clods. Digging the garden is a strenuous activity that must be faced calmly, perhaps dividing the work into several days. During the digging phase it is possible to bury manure previously spread on the ground, in order to make our garden more fertile. Then we must proceed with the pressing of the clods. If the plot to be worked is small, we can do it with a hoe, while if it is extended it is better to use a motor hoe that allows you to get the land perfectly crumbled. At the end, we carefully rake the surface to remove stones, roots and more that the digging work and the motor hoe have brought to the surface. We find the tools named in DIY centers, gardening department.

We delimit the area

  1. The first operation to be performed is the delimit the area to be digged with some pegs.
  2. We also use a line well taut.

  1. The spade rests on the ground almost vertically, then presses hard with the foot on the stirrup making it penetrate as much as possible into the earth.
  2. If the ground is covered with grass, we ensure that this comes totally covered by the turned area. If the turf is particularly thick and made up of weeds, it is good to peel it before digging.
  3. After placing the clod in the furrow we hit it with the spade, placed cutting so as to accelerate and facilitate its pressing.
  4. An edge accurate, which follows the line pulled between the stakes, delimits the vegetable garden. The earth, after digging the garden, shatters with the tiller and level with a rake leaving a flat and even surface.

What tools to use?

One is required spade, a rake, a hoe, a motor hoe, a pitchfork and a shovel.

How to prepare the vegetable garden and the garden for spring

In this period it seems that the countryside is still sleeping. A good farmer, on the other hand, can never rest.

In addition to planning of future sowings e when designing the new garden it will be necessary to prune hedges and shrubs, especially in areas with temperatures mild, and cleaning, digging, weeding and fertilizing the land for summer blooms. Finally, we can dedicate ourselves, only with a waning moon, to the collection of the scions for grafting and to the implant preparation spring in the orchards.

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This is the mother practice of all the works of soil preparation, very demanding (on average one man spades 10-20 m2 per hour) but essential, yesi carry out annually after harvest or by February, when the the ground is not frozen and never in periods of heavy rain.

This practice is carried out with the soil in tempera (the earth crumbles without altering its structure) with one square spade if the soil is already worked, pointed if clayey or alternatively it is performed with one moto hoe (find out in the area why they are rented).

We proceed by doing a first pit of about 30 cm (a little more in clayey soils) e putting the extracted earth in a wheelbarrowto which it will fill the last pit at the end of digging.

Then, a layer of soil is taken from the next row, digging a pit and turning the clods on the bottom of the previous excavation e covering the fertilizers also with any exhausted plants and weeds that will fertilize our future crops.

Finally, the last pit dug must be filled with the earth extracted at the beginning, which was set aside in the wheelbarrow.

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During these operations it is good remove old roots and stones and eventually mix our compost or earthworm humus with a fork to use with care.

In case of clayey soil or when good fertilization is required one will do double digging, an operation that must be done with caution, so as not to upset the natural balance, burying the organic substance, taking care while proceeding not to step on the area already dug and crushing any very large clods with the side of the spade.

Among soil improvers or fertilizers, indispensable for correct and enrich our soil, we also point out the ash as long as it is free of chemical pollutants.

THE fertilizers will be distributed at a rate of 4-5 kg ​​/ m2 but the factors that influence the nutrition of our crops are so many, it is therefore difficult to establish the type and exact quantities of fertilizer to be applied, each garden is in fact unique and only those who take care of it can find the right precautions.

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There digging, eliminating roots and weeds, represents a valid herbicide aid, it facilitates the decomposition of plants that have been brought to depths from the surface, frees the earth from stones, oxygenates the soil by moving it and represents the right time to enrich it with fertilizers and soil improvers.

The action of water and frost, then, crushing the soil makes it brittle (especially in clayey and compact soils) and suitable for welcoming the new roots, thus preparing it for the next spring sowing.

The beneficial effect of digging could be greater by carrying out this practice at the end of autumn, thus offering the fertilizers more time to carry out their benefits.

Nevertheless, digging during these weeks, during which the coldest temperatures are recorded, gives our soils other benefits: overturning of the clods of earth brings to the surface the parasites that will be killed by the cold, the greater draining power of the soils discourages the proliferation of cryptogams, finally, the practice of digging, if the soil is not frozen, supports the fight against rodent infestations.

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There are also two schools of thought on digging.

What we will illustrate now is equally valid but opposite: leave exhausted plants in the ground, defend the latter from cold and rain and protect microorganisms, responsible for the decomposition of the organic elements it contains.

This theory is even more valid when the land in question has been cultivated with plants belonging to the legume family, which if left until spring release agglomerated nitrogen in the roots, making the soil more fertile.

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We have seen that during digging we can add soil improvers, precious allies of the farmer, which improve the softness of the soil.

The soil improvers are substances used to improve the chemical, physical, microbiological and mechanical characteristics of the land and therefore their optimal habitability.

Similar but different from the corrective ones (substances that added to the soil positively modify the pH) will be distributed after a superficial working of the soil by spreading and leveling them in layers, then they will mix by turning the soil that will be left to rest, before finally leveling it in the phase of pre-transplant, always with the help of a spade and a rake.

The amendments allowed in organic farming are obviously organic and natural: the building sand which by reducing the compactness of the soil improves its drainage, the vegetable compote which enriches the soil with organic matter, the peat and manure which bring the same benefits as the first two, the sawdust which enhances soil aeration and therefore drainage, lime, rich in magnesium which lowers the acidity of the soil and the compote of leaves which improves its structure.

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A healthy plant is a more resistant plant climatic and parasitic attacks.

To get it it is important to have a good one fertile, rich and healthy soil.

The best is the medium-textured one, capable of retaining water without impregnating it and is characterized by the presence of decomposing or decaying plant matter, it is rich in organic matter and nutrients useful for our crops.

Fertilizers provide the crops with chemical elements, which enhance their fertility and which are necessary for the plant for a prosperous development of the production cycle.

Fertilization it must be done before sowing or transplanting as a basic fertilizer, or during cultivation as a cover fertilizer.

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Basic fertilization brings organic matter and minerals, is enhanced, as we have seen, by the digging that takes the plants present on the surface to the depths, which in turn, by decomposing, fertilize the following ones.

Manure is also a excellent fertilizer, perhaps the best especially if equine, the important thing is that it is ripe or dried and preferably spread before digging.

Given its slow action, difficult availability and cost, it can be replaced by compost which in turn cannot replace mineral fertilizer which instead must be mixed with the earth.

The mineral fertilizer must be rich above all in phosphorus and potassium but poor of nitric nitrogen since since this last element is characterized by leaching and volatilization, if given at this stage, before cultivation, the risk that it can be transported in depth by water and therefore dispersed before being completely absorbed by the crops is greater.

The nitrogen problem can be avoided thanks to legumes that fix and release a natural supply of nitrogen.

The abbreviation of this complex mineral fertilizer is NPK, from the chemical symbol of the elements used which together with magnesium and calcium represent the macro elements and therefore the main nutrients of our plants.

Now you can sow or transplant or in any case start sowing in the seedbed to have seedlings like basil, zucchini and spinach, ready in spring.

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Even when buying fertilizers, the rule that quality costs costs applies. Relying on a manufacturer of proven morality and a trusted shopkeeper is extremely important. Fraud in this sector, as in the food sector, is not uncommon and the damage you can suffer, for example, is to buy a fertilizer or soil improver with lower titles than those declared and that you would need, or containing organic materials of poor quality or not allowed in organic farming.

Your budget

Electric tillers are the ones that have the most competitive prices, they can also be found at prices below 100 euros. However, the level of performance increases with the price and usually the rotary tillers belonging to the higher price range categories are those capable of working larger soils.

In general, it can be said that for amateur and infrequent jobs, lower-priced models are fine, while for professional jobs one must turn to medium-high-end models.
In summary, good electric rotary tillers can be found at indicative prices up to 200 euros, small motorized rotary tillers at prices between 250 and 500 euros, medium-sized rotary tillers at 400/1000 euros.
Large petrol and / or diesel rotary tillers can have prices over 1000 euros.

What makes the desert beautiful, said the little prince, is that somewhere it hides a well. (The little Prince)

The first thing I did was to understand if you needed any permission (we are always in Italy, even to breathe you need a permit) and I must say that I got away with little in fact, I went to the offices of the province and I had to fill out a simple application to make a well. In the request I had to specify the purpose, how many liters per second I would absorb from the ground, mark the position of the bottom of the well and other data. So I submitted a form and within 60 days I got permission. The cost of the procedure was quite cheap, I got away with € 40 (cost of stamps, photocopies, etc.) and I had to go to the province twice.

I must say that in the province I found a really competent and helpful employee, who helped me fill out all the documents, so that the request was correct right away. I recommend making the request e do not do the work in an abusive way, for three reasons: first of all, you have no advantage in doing it abusive second, you are protected in case some neighbor or passerby calls the authorities (to dismantle a pipe from a well planted in the ground a few meters deep, you really need diggers expensive), third, it is time for us Italians to stop doing things under the table - I will certainly not be defending the state and the system, but the first way to change this situation and this world is to start from the small and from ourselves , then for 40 € -. Having said that, I remind you that we are in Italy anyway, so what is valid for the province of Brescia (prices, forms, times, permits), it does not necessarily apply to other parts as well, I suggest you make a phone call to your municipality and understand how you have to move.

After this long introduction, I would like to tell you about the well itself. Let's start with a little theory: what does it mean to make a well? Simplifying as much as possible, it means creating a hole, a crack, which allows us to re-emerge the water present in the permanent aquifer under the ground or allows this water to come out of the ground in a natural way (in this case we can call it a source natural).

As you can see from the image, the soil is made up of various layers (earth, stone, sand, gravel, clay) which can be permeable or impermeable. In the midst of these layers in many cases we find water. Our goal therefore is to be able to find and reach the water. Of course I'm simplifying as much as possible, using terms and concepts that a professional would certainly not approve of, but the purpose of this article is to broadly understand the speech in order to try to make a considered and reasonable choice.

But how do you know what's under the ground? How deep is the water? Good question! Finding water is like finding oil: it is a real bet. Certainly there are tools and studies, which can be done on the ground, which are used to understand if there is water, at what depth it is, if in the subsoil there are stones, sand or clay, but they are all analyzes. really expensive that are only suitable for companies as they can be easily amortized in the overall cost of the work. For a private individual who wants to give a drink to the vegetable garden or the garden, this does not make sense.

Then? Do you give up?
Of course not. Now I try to give you some advice that can help reduce the probability of failure of your water search to a minimum. First of all, ask the neighbors or the locals, ask if anyone has a well, what depth has it gone down, what type of well it has (we will see the various types later), if that area is rich in water or not. They seem trivial things, but they are useful for getting a precise idea of ​​what you can find.
The second thing I recommend is to contact gods dowsers. Who I am? They are people with a particular sensitivity to water who, with a stick, are able to identify where it is located (be careful, they feel the water, it may not necessarily be the water table). It's not an exact science, so I recommend that you contact multiple dowsers and compare their answers. On my farm I contacted four and made the well where three of them felt the water (but I'll talk about this later).

Well, now that the permit is in place and the water has been found, who builds the well?

First of all, you need to understand which well you want: this depends on the use, on the budget available and from the drilling depth (many dowsers say the depth at which they feel the water, in my case it was 8 / 10m). There are different types of wells, I consider two of them:

  1. artesian well: it is a deep well but with a small diameter, which can vary from 5 cm to 15 cm (with a larger diameter they become professional, so we do not take them into account), for a depth ranging from 10 to 100 meters. In wells like this, a very powerful pump is needed to extract the water, but we will see this later.
    These wells can be excavated in two ways: either by means of a jam - that is a weight that hits a pole and sticks it into the ground (it can reach a maximum depth of 15/20 meters) - or by means of an auger - which has no depth limits. but there are very different costs, as we will see later -.
  2. water table: it is a shallow well (up to 15 meters maximum), but with a very large diameter (at least one meter). It is, to understand, it is what you see in the convents or in the country houses.

These two types of wells have two completely different modes of operation, as they work on two totally different layers, so they cannot be chosen only on an aesthetic level.
An artesian well will never be "dry" because it takes water directly from the permanent aquifer and in addition the amount of water you can take is practically unlimited, so when you need it you can use it without any problem.

The groundwater well, on the other hand, uses a different aquifer and this means that you will have limited water and therefore can be subject to either dryness or water drops. To clarify, look at this image:

The phreatic well in many cases becomes in effect a cistern well, that is, it fills up slowly: in some cases the complete filling is reached in a few hours, in other cases it takes days. For this reason, the diameter is large: keep in mind that for a well with a diameter of one meter and a water height of one and a half meters, you will have about 1170 liters of water, which is not a few.
In the case of a vegetable garden or a garden, in my opinion, they are enough and advance!

Therefore, depending on the type of well and the excavation technique you want to do, you will have to call different companies or try to do it yourself. This, however, you will find in the next article. Meanwhile, I leave you a video where I show you how I found the water.

Winter and spring digging, all the tips

Soil digging: prepare the ground it will allow us to obtain a better harvest. The cultivation of the vegetable garden starts with the care of the land and the manual digging is the optimal way to start it all!

Digging, meaning
There digging is the basis of everything, that's why we want to emphasize the meaning! Digging the land does not only mean turn the clods with the spade, it means improving the structure and fertility of the soil, it means preparing the soil for garden cultivation.

In thevegetable garden family, with a limited extension, it will not be necessary to use machines to dig the soil, but if you start from a very uncultivated and weedy ground, for a digging deeper, it may be advisable to use a rotary tiller.

There manual digging
Thanks to digging the soil is preparing for cultivation. Who decides to proceed with the manual digging must, first of all, get one spade… It seems obvious but many inexperienced gardeners try to dig with a shovel which is a completely unsuitable tool for this operation! There spade best for the manual digging it must be equipped with the bracket to exert force on the tool and go down as deep as possible, especially if the ground to be digged has been uncultivated for some time.

For the digging by hand better to choose a dry day, as the wet ground gets mixed up and makes you work harder. In reality, wet soil should not be worked on or walked on because in doing so it becomes compact and becomes more difficult to cultivate.

Winter digging
There winter digging it is performed during the rest period of the garden, when frost and snow facilitate the work (the action of frost helps the clods to shatter, allowing the soil to aerate better). To prepare the ground to the cultivation of the vegetable garden, you take advantage of the digging to fertilize the soil: first fertilizer is spread (better mature manure or, alternatively, pelleted) and then spade. In this way the fertilizer will be buried deeply and will be able to release the nutrients necessary forvegetable garden.

Who has a small home garden and yes beloved with the composting dei rifiuti organici, può approfittare della vangatura per usare il compost.

Come vangare il terreno
Per vangare bene il terreno bisogna scendere in profondità per tutta la lunghezza della lama dell’attrezzo, poi fare forza e rivoltare l’intera zolla raccolta nella vanga.

Per gestire al meglio la vangatura, è bene occuparsi di una porzione alla volta e alla fine livellare il terreno con il rastrello.

Vangatura primaverile
Chi si trova alla prima vangatura dovrà faticare molto mediante la vangatura invernale, mentre chi possiede un orto curato già da tempo, con terreno sciolto e già concimato, dovrà limitarsi a una vangatura superficiale. In tal caso si opera direttamente in primavera, prima delle semine.

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Pubblicato da Anna De Simone il 13 Agosto 2014

Come fare la vangatura

Veniamo dunque al sodo e spieghiamo come effettuare la procedura di vangatura. Sicuramente se stai leggendo questa guida hai già individuato il terreno che necessita di questa lavorazione e saprai già quali sono le operazioni primarie da fare, ovvero sgomberare la superficie da arbusti e piante magari usando un buon decespugliatore.

Quando avrai a disposizione una superficie completamente piatta e libera da impedimenti potrai iniziare ad effettuare la vangatura. La lama di una vanga è in genere di 25-35cm quanto basta per arrivare alla profondità necessaria per dissodare il terreno.

Per quanto riguarda il modello di vanga da usare in genere quelle più diffuse sono di due tipi: a lama a punta o a lama quadra. Per l’utilizzo su terreni incolti e molto compatti si preferisce l’uso di quella a lama curva in quanto si inserisce più facilmente e permette una vangatura più comoda. Ultimamente in commercio si stanno diffondendo delle innovative vanghe che permettono di svolgere una lavorazione molto più leggera grazie ad un sistema brevettato. Si tratta della tecnovanga, prodotta dall’azienda italiana VALMAS, questo strumento permette tramite un gioco di leve di imprimere una forza molto minore rispetto ad una vanga tradizionale in questo modo si può procedere alla lavorazione del terreno con molto meno sforzo.

Vediamo come vangare un terreno descrivendo le operazioni da fare passo passo :

  1. Posizionati al limite del campo, dovrai procedere all’indietro in modo da non calpestare le zolle rivoltate.
  2. Inserisci la vanga in posizione verticale sul terreno e con il piede destro o sinistro premi sulla parte superiore della lama oppure sull’apposito pezzo di legno posto sopra la lama.
  3. Fai penetrare di circa 20cm la lama e muovi in avanti e indietro tenendo le mani poste all’apice del manico. A seconda della durezza del terreno l’operazione si può anche svolgere infilando la lama e sollevando direttamente la zolla.
  4. Rivolta la zolla e sminuzzala utilizzando la parte laterale della lama.
  5. Puoi procedere all’indietro muovendoti orizzontalmente oppure spostarti all’indietro procedendo verticalmente, l’importante è che non calpesti le zolle rivoltate.

Ricorda che questa lavorazione è molto dispendiosa in termini di energie e di tempo, applicala soltanto su piccole superfici, se hai a disposizione una motozappa e un orto di medie dimensioni conviene sostituire la vangatura cola la zappatura specialmente se il terreno è stato già lavorato in precedenza.

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