Single Digging and Double Digging Guide
Single digging on bare ground
1. Dig a trench across one of the narrower sides of the plot, moving the soil to the far end. Make the trench about 2-3in ( 50-75 mm) wider from front to back than the blade of the spade, keeping the sides vertical.
2. In subsequent rows, make each spit spade-width and about 6in ( 150 mm) from front to back. Stab the blade in at right-angles to mark the width, then push it in vertically in line with the trench.
3. Throw the soil well forward to maintain an open trench, keeping the near side vertical. Remove and burn perennial weeds. Dig in annual weeds, which will rot down and add humus to the soil.
4. If you are digging in manure or compost, scatter it over the sloping edge of the newly-turned soil so that it is evenly distributed when covered by the next row’s digging. Do not leave any on the surface.
5. Continue digging in this way until you reach the final trench, filling this with soil removed from the first trench. Spread lime, if necessary, on the surface and allow it to be washed in by rain.
Single digging on turf
1. When digging grassland or part of a lawn fin. Vegetable growing, first cut the grass and remove any long growth. Decide whether to remove turves for growing elsewhere, to bury them or to stack them so that they rot.
2. If you want to use the grass elsewhere, lay a line and cut the turves with a turfing iron or spade into strips about 8in ( 200 mm) wide, 11in ( 40 mm ) thick and 12in ( 305 mm) long.
3. Accurate cutting is less important if you are going to bury the turves or stack them to rot. Whatever you propose doing with them, remove the first two or three rows, then lift subsequent rows as digging proceeds.
4. To bury turves, lay them upside-down on the base of the trench and chop into several pieces. Keep the trench broad so that the edges of the turves do not turn upwards. Remove the roots of any perennial weeds.
5. Turn the next spit of soil on the inverted turves. Go along the trench, turning loose soil on the base onto the first spit to leave a fiat surface for laying the next row of turves. Strip and invert these as before.
Double digging on bare ground
1. To save borrowing large quantities of soil, divide the area in two with a line and chop a furrow along the mark. Place soil from the first trench just beyond the end of the
2. Dig the opening trench one spit deep and 18in ( 455 mm) wide from front to back. Using a fork, break up the base another spit deep. Work backwards from one end of the trench to the other.
3. If you have manure to add while double digging, place this over the loosened base of the trench. The nutriments it contains will leach down into the loosened subsoil and aid root development.
4. Dig a second trench behind the first, placing the earth on the loosened subsoil. Three rows of digging will give a trench of similar width to the first. Fork over the floor of this new trench. Continue across the plot.
5. Fill the end trench with soil taken from the opening trench on the other half of the plot. Fill the final trench on this second side of the plot with the soil you removed when digging the original opening trench.
Double digging on turf
1. After dividing the plot as above, use a line to mark an 18in ( 455 mm) strip. Pare off and stack the turf, then dig out the top spit and fork over the base.
2. Pare the turf off the next 18in and place it upside-down on the loosened soil. Chop it into the soil, together with any manure, to assist decomposition.
3. Place the next spit of soil on top of the chopped turf and continue digging the plot trench by trench. Take care never to mix sub soil with topsoil.