Tilling Depth?

Hi Everybody,
I have found a small space with (I *think*) just regular dirt, etc. I can only use, perhaps, one "row" of this space for vegetables. I am willing to put in whatever will fit (lettuce, broccoli, etc), except anything needing a wide "cage" support, like tomatoes (I already have those in buckets.)
I can protect this area with a border of "garden edging" if needed. The area has been neglected for years, with just regular grass, etc, and I suppose that the soil is compacted, etc.
So my question is... How deep should I till down through this soil (I will be doing it by hand)? I figure that the need is to turn over the grass, etc, and fluff up the soil for veggies to have a good root-pushing environment. I plan on mixing in a bit of manure and blood-n-bone meal to feed it.
So... How deep to till?
Thanks in advance!
-V
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Down Under On The Bucket Farm said:

Double-dig. Dig out a section one spade depth and set that soil aside. Break up the soil underneath and layer in compost or aged manure. Move down the bed and turn the topsoil into your first trench. Repeat until you move down the length of the bed and at the far end, you lay your reserved soil back on. Spread some more compost or alfalfa meal or pellets over the whole bed and 'fluff' it in by running a spading fork just below the surface and wiggling it back up through the soil.
A longer description:
http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_soil_water/article/0,1785,HGTV_3632_1372205,00.html
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On Thu, 4 Dec 2003 22:24:38 -0800, Down Under On The Bucket Farm

Most veg roots don't need more that 8-10" (there are *some* exceptions) of fluffy stuff. Fertilizer is good to dig in, but don't forget compost. That helps a *lot* to keep the dirt fluffy. Good luck with your dirt!
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Digging by hand or by spade you are restricted to the length of the blade i.e. between 6" to 9" depending on the spade. You must also consider the depth of your top-soil and its condition. Horse manure is good as it contains straw which will rot to produce humus, blood and bone meal are slow release fertilisers. How well you are going to fluff up the soil depends entirely on the type of the said soil.
wrote:

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Dirt is what is under fingernails and behind ears. "Soil" is what is below our feet.
Down Under On The Bucket Farm wrote:

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Dirt is what is under fingernails and behind ears. "Soil" is what is below our feet.
Down Under On The Bucket Farm wrote:

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Celestial Habitats by J. Kolenovsky
2003 Honorable Mention Award, Keep Houston Beautiful
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g'day v,
why not put a raised bed in? i never till/dig and find raised beds much easier to manage, also that way you don't need to worry about what the original soil is, check my garden page for how i do it.
len
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[snip]

It depends on the nature of the soil: its composition (especially sand vs. clay concentrations), history (has it been trampled on by people or machinery?), what kind of plants you want to grow (how deep are their roots going to be?) and how much of a rush you are in (top production what year?).
The heavier the trampling, the more clay, the deeper rooted plant, then you better get started tilling as soon as the ground (and water saturation) will allow.
OTOH I finally got around to double-digging some sandy loam that hadn't been walked on in a few years. Side by side comparison with another bed that hadn't been double-dug -- also planted with carrots -- showed absolutely no benefit (both did well).
If you don't have a good method for determining your soil type, I recommend the method Steve Solomon describes in his book (sorry, don't remember the name, it's probably 20 years old now).
HTH...     -frank
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