Tip of the Week: Ouchless Digging

Dirty work shouldn’t ruin your body. The right tools and technique make digging more comfortable. Here are a few tips for perfecting your form:

Dig when the soil is wrung-out-sponge most. If it’s sopping wet, wait. If it’s bone dry, irrigate.
Use a well-made tool that’s sized to your body and right for the task. Although you can shovel with a spade or spade with a shovel, the proper tool will be easier on your body.
Your digging tool should be sharp enough to cut you. If you are digging all day, work like a butcher: sharpen your blade frequently.
Drive your blade straight down (using your weight), not at an angle (using your muscle).
Take thin slices of earth, no more than an inch or two thick. You’ll produce a thin unstable flake that falls apart easily. Thick shovelfuls produce large clods that require you to slash and bash them. That’s unnecessary work.
Never look over your shoulder to see how much spading you have left to do. Just keep pecking away!

Read about the four main kinds of digging tools

Read past weeks’ tips

Do you have a tip or trick to share with other gardeners? E-mail edit@hortmag.com  or post it in the Co-Horts’ Forum. Your tip could be featured in a future e-newsletter!

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