Avoid Tilling Wet Soil
This may appear to be self-evident, but never till wet soil. In spring, eager gardeners sometimes try to “work” the soil earlier than they should. This is not only messy, it can severely damage the soil’s structure, inhibiting plant growth in the future. Wait until the soil has had a chance to dry out a bit before working it.
Drainage problems? Read our solutions.
Double digging is an old practice for improving the drainage and aeration of poor soil. Basically, you remove a row of soil to a depth of about 1 foot, saving the excavated soil on a tarp. Then you loosen the hardpan subsoil (a dense layer of soil, usually found below the uppermost topsoil layer) in that trench with a spading fork. Once that is done you move to the next row, removing 1 foot of topsoil, depositing it in the trench next to it, then loosening the subsoil with a spading fork. You repeat this process until you reach the end of the bed, at which point you use the reserved soil on the tarp to backfill the final trench.
The Best Soil for a Vegetable Garden and Root Crops
Double digging may seem like a lot of work (and it is!) but once it’s done, you won’t have to repeat it. And it’s one way of making a bed more hospitable to root crops such as carrots. Of course, you could also search for a sandy site. Or build a raised bed and avoid the problem altogether.