The joy of freshly dug soil

Autumn is a beautiful time of year. There is so much for a gardener to enjoy: golden yellowy leaves, red skies, long afternoon shadows and of course, those bright crisp mornings.

But there is something else too. Something that the non growers amongst us would dismiss without a second glance. This thing of beauty has no exciting colours, and nothing to catch the eye, but it can be seen on allotments across the land…

…freshly dug soil.

Freshly Dug Soil

I’ve been doing some digging on my new allotment over the past weekend. It can be tough work, but there is nothing quite like a weeded, recently dug over vegetable patch. Standing back and admiring, the soil just looks perfect. All lovely and crumbly, put to bed to recover for a brand new season.

I enjoy digging for this feeling of satisfaction, but my strategy is little and often. A couple of hours here and there are good for both body and mind.  As I’m sure you’ll know only too well, digging causes aches and pains, especially if it is something you’re not used to. If possible, I’d definitely recommend breaking up sessions if possible to ease the impact on the muscles.

I like to rope my mum in whenever I can. I’m always amazed by the amount that two people can get done in an hour or so, but digging is also very social. It’s a great way to catch up with a friend whilst enjoying the outdoors and getting some good exercise.

Progress is always a morale booster too. Stopping to admire regularly spruced up sections rather than slogging for hours to cultivate one big section is much better for the mind.

And remember to have a rest! Digging is a marathon, not a sprint! I can often be found slumped over my spade, recharging the batteries before I get stuck into another row. Better still, take a flask of tea and a hefty lump of cake – you’ve earned it!

Tools are important, and If you’re just taking on a plot, get as good and lightweight spade as possible. Old ones found in the corner of the shed are nostalgic and thrifty, but they can be very old, heavy and cumbersome. A nice, light spade will be much easier to turn and far better for the achey muscles.

Digging on the Allotment

Keep an eye out for the earthworms, as  they’re integral to the condition of the soil and do lots of hard work down there. I like to see plenty of earthworms as it’s a sign of healthy soil. However, I’m not murderous or anything, but I do like to help out the local blackbird when digging. He can spot a vulnerable worm a mile off…

And at the end of the day, you get to enjoy a long, hot soak in the bath. After digging, I try to make time for a long, relaxing bath. I’ve grown to love a long bath all over again, and I feel much better in the morning for a soak in the tub.

Thanks for reading!


6 responses to “The joy of freshly dug soil

  1. There is a great sense of satisfaction gained (by me) when I’ve dug the beds in preparation for next year. I love the idea of you getting your mum to help, conversation, tips and gossip as you dig,

  2. You’re right, Jono, the sight of freshly dug, naked soil is very satisfying and something of a relief to get everything tidy ready for next year. I’m finding companionship in bulb planting as well at the moment – large bags of Sarah Raven bulbs holding promise of beauty to come next year – and those will be growing alongside my onions, garlic and broad beans in the late spring.

  3. I used to enjoy the sight of dug soil, looks tidy and clean, but in recent years I’ve come more and more to believe in the no-dig approach of people like Charles Dowding, not because of laziness, I often have to hold back, but because I really believe one does more harm to the soil, and the worms and little critters in the soil, by digging than leaving them to get on with. A good thick mulch of manure and compost not only graduates builds up the humus layer, but also acts as a weed suppresant.

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