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New Garden: How deep should I dig?

Written By: The Mad Tiller - Sep• 20•11

Question by oz123: New Garden: How deep should I dig?
I’m planting my first garden. I’ve already removed the grass and weeds and am working on loosening the soil (it’s very compacted). I don’t have a tiller so I’m doing it by hand. How deep down should I dig?

If it matters, I have seedlings for:

cherry tomatoes
bush snap peas
brussel sprouts


Best answer:

Answer by Cave Creek
6 to 12 inches. Would be better to rent a tiller!

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  1. Bob says:

    I would dig down at least the length of the pitchfork (or other turning fork), and I would seriously consider adding a soil amendment such as peat moss or a quality garden soil mix. This would help to lessen the compaction. You might also want to consider creating a raised garden over this particular area. That would require side supports to box in the soil mix.

    ……Good luck to you. I really like your crop selection. :-)

  2. Junior says:

    In my experience, I usually used the 6-8 inches depth in planting vegetables using hand trowel. For carrots I recommend an 8 to 10 inches depth to make its roots bigger and longer using spading fork.

  3. Felicity says:

    Sorry, but the best answer is – as deep as you can. If your soil is compact the roots will stay only within the soil you tilled. 6 to 12 inches is enough to get a plant to survive and produce a little, but to really make it happy and healthy, the deeper the better. I live in the Rocky Mountains and have dug down to my knees just to remove rock and break up hard soil. (I also grew amazing things where my neighbors told me to “forget it”) Also, the more enrichment you can add the better: compost, manure or peat – depending on where you live. Your County Extension office loves to answer questions like this and can tell you the specifics of your area; such as, is your area prone to sand or clay soils; acid or alkaline? They will be able to tell you the appropriate amendment – and they do so with enthusiasm! Maybe you are lucky and live in an area that has naturally rich soil, just needs loosening.

    On another note, congratulate yourself for just planting a garden! I don’t know many things more gratifying than eating food you grew! You will love it!

    If you are staying on that same property for years to come, always know that every year you can improve that ground and soil, dig a little deeper, add a little more amendment – which will reward you in a more bountiful harvest and more delicious eating!

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