The Q&A Archives: Tilling: By Hand?

Question: Can tilling be done by hand, I mean, with some type of non-electric equipment, or do you have to rent/but a rototiller?
If it can be done by hand, how exactly do you go about it?

Answer: You do not need a tiller to turn and improve the soil, but you do need a strong back. You can turn the garden soil with a spading fork to break it up and incorporate amendments. Some gardeners will begin by digging out a top layer about six or eight inches deep with a sharp spade, then turning and improving the soil beneath that, then replacing the top layer and turning and improving that. This is called double digging and it is hard work, but very effective. Once the soil has been worked that way, it is much easier subsequent times, especially if you add organic matter to it on a regular basis.

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