Starting a garden is an exciting adventure but you’ll soon realize just how much planning is involved. The first step of this planning is deciding when to dig it. Let’s find out the best time to dig your garden for the best results.
When is the perfect time to dig your garden: Fall is the best time to dig your garden. The ground should be workable and not frozen. Digging up during this time means that if there are any new weeds, they will naturally die off over winter. Then, you can plant your garden in the spring.
When should I dig my garden?
Even though you probably won’t be planting anything in your garden until the spring, the best time to dig your garden is in the fall. You want the soil to be workable, so make sure you take this step before the ground freezes.
You know your climate best, so be aware of weather patterns to help you know when to dig. If your winter is unpredictable and you have experienced October or November snowfalls before, it’s best to err on the side of caution and start digging in late September.
As for more temperate climates, you can probably get away with digging your garden as late as early December. Even if you experience an early frost, if the weather warms up, you will still be able to get into your garden.
The reason for starting your garden in the fall is that any weeds that pop up from the freshly turned soil will naturally die off over winter. This means less work for you when you go to plant in the spring.
Even though fall is the best time to dig your garden, you can still do a fine job in the spring. Some people just aren’t planners, so you might have the brilliant idea of starting a garden in the winter, in which case you will have missed the fall digging window.
You might end up with weeds when you turn your soil over but these are an unfortunate part of all gardens, so it will give you a taste of the work you need to do with the upkeep of your garden.
How deep should I dig my garden?
It can seem like a lot of work, but you want to aim for a depth of at least 12 inches when digging your garden. If you have a sturdy shovel, this will make the task much easier.
Some gardeners will dig down to 18 inches but this can be difficult if your soil is very compact. However, the more compact it is the more important it is to dig and loosen the area.
After you dig your garden, you should add nutrient-rich matter to it. Compost is the best form as it will have a balance of nutrients your soil needs.
If you don’t have any compost on hand, consider adding some quality gardening soil. This is topsoil with compost or organic matter mixed in.
As you are digging, you may notice that there is a layer of natural organic matter, such as fallen leaves, on top of the soil. This is nature’s compost so don’t remove it; instead, churn it into the soil as you dig your garden.
How do you dig up a garden?
While there are some plants that love the shade, most of what you want to grow will prefer to be in the sun. Take this into consideration when digging your garden.
Look around at buildings such as your home or shed, to determine how long any shadows will be. Also, pay attention to trees. When digging in the fall, most trees won’t have their leaves, so it can be a real shock in the spring when your realized you’ve planted in a full-shade location.
The garden should be fairly level and not at the bottom of a hill. If it is, then there can be too much water run-off which will flood your garden and make the roots of your plants too soggy, leading to rot.
Assess the soil
Once you start digging your garden, you will be able to determine how good your soil is. If you hit clay or heavily compacted soil after just a few inches, then you will know that the soil isn’t very good.
You should still try to dig up as much as you can as this lower level of soil needs to be separated for proper drainage. However, bad soil is a sign that you will need more topsoil to finish your garden.
You can choose to make a raised bed garden, depending on how much extra soil you need to add. This can be an extra 2 inches of soil or you can build a proper raised bed that is 6 inches tall along the sides.
If the soil turns easily and doesn’t seem to have any issues, then you can go ahead and keep the current soil and plant right into the ground.
What time of year is best to start a garden?
Spring is the best time to start your garden. While you want to dig it in the winter, most plants, especially vegetables, grow best when they are planted in the spring.
There are some vegetables that do well over winter, especially garlic, but it can be a lot merely digging the garden, so don’t worry about trying to do everything at once.
We suggest making yourself a gardening calendar. This way you can write in dates specific to your area, like the first and last frost dates.
Then, you can add in when certain vegetables need to be planted. The more organized you are, the more successful your garden will be.
Gardening is all about planning. Even though you probably won’t plant your first seeds until the spring, it is best to dig the garden in the fall. This distributes the labor and ensures that any weeds will die off over the winter.