The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Autumn Soil Preparation


By peter


The weekend so far has been far more work than the laziness of making my animation last Sunday. This afternoon we took a trip to the local garden centre and returned with the winter veg seeds making me all enthusiastic for digging.

Having seen Monty Don do it, and partly because the patch which used to house my tomatoes is small, I thought that I’d have a go at ‘double digging’. That is, removing the top soil to the depth of one spade, then turning the soil underneath also to the depth of a spade.

Monty said it was good for veg patches and who am I to argue, but given the effort it takes I just hope my veg grows to twice the size!

I thought it wouldn’t be too bad as I dug to one spade’s depth in May; apparently badly! After removing one spade’s depth of top soil I had a lot of rubble that I should have unearthed in May – and I was only half way there!

Half a Hole

I’d forgotten how much flint there is in my garden, and why I didn’t double dig in the first place. Every flint stone is small enough that it looks insignificant but big enough to stop my spade in its tracks. Unearthing the occasional large chunk is satisfying but sifting through the smaller bits is very time consuming.

I dug until dark this evening but need to get something tomorrow to finish the job – I remember my parents having a soil sieve (if that’s what they’re called) so tomorrow I’ll pay another visit to the garden centre for my next garden utensil.

I also want to say thanks to everyone for their help. I know you’ve answered a lot of my novice questions on Grows on You but today you really helped my garden – the thought of writing this blog entry having given up was enough to keep me digging!

More blog posts by peter

Previous post: Caring for my basil plant

Next post: Garden vegetables for winter



Well done. Double digging IS hard work but it pays off in the long run. I double dug every new border in my garden except one (and that had to be emptied and double dug after six years becasue the plants there weren't thriving). Keep at it.

23 Sep, 2007


I admire your tenacity but go easy on the sieve, you need some grit in the soil.

23 Sep, 2007


Double digging - not for me - I live on a new housing estate - dig down more than a spades depth and you hit rubble, stones, bricks and even whole bags of sand!! - yes still in its plastic wrapper! No i'll stick to raised beds which I just keep topping up each year. Let the worms do their jobs I say!!!! (I hasten to add this was written after several hours out in the garden today!!!)

23 Sep, 2007


I finished digging the small patch last night and it is a lot of work - particularly the second layer. We live in a rented house so it may be that someone else gets them long term benefit :(. Our house is new too, about 5 years old, so there's lots of rubble, I took 3 recycling boxes of rubble to the recycling centre and still have a box sat in the garden.
I think there's still plenty of smaller grit left in the soil, but I'll check. The box that's left is the smaller stones rather than brick sized chunks I dug up.
Thanks for the advice :)

24 Sep, 2007

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by peter

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    1 Mar, 2008