Who knew a post hole digger could be so useful! Sometimes – the simplest of tools can make all the difference.

Post Hole Digger
Old But Good. I still like using my dad’s old post hole digger at planting time

When it comes to planting our vegetable garden, for us – it’s the Post Hole Digger!

Whether you have raised beds, raised rows or a traditionally tilled garden – getting your plants off to a good start can make for smiling faces come harvest time!  That includes the entire process of creating proper planting holes as you prepare to plant all of your seedlings into the garden.

The key is to make sure the area right around your new plantings is loose, friable – and teeming with nutrients to feed your plants through the growing season. (See: 5 Ways To Use Compost)

If it’s too hard and rocky or of poor quality – the roots of young plants will have a hard time expanding – as will the plants themselves!

How We Plant – The Post Hole Digger Method…

post hole digger
One full shovel is about 8″ deep and 5″ inches round

Once we have mapped out the garden and spacing for plants –  we simply go along and cut out perfect unified planting holes with the post hole digger – digging down one complete spade full  (about 8 to 10” on the typical post hole digger) for each hole.  It’s as easy as dropping the blade, closing the handles – and then lifting out the dirt.  In one fatal swoop – we have removed enough soil to create the perfect planting hole.

The wider hole left behind from a post hole digger is perfect for adding in compost and organic matter to the garden soil – and allows for loose soil to let roots expand easily during the first few weeks of their outdoor life.  A good root system is the key to healthy plants!   (See: How To Grow Amazing Tomatoes)

The depth of the hole allows us to bury plants like our tomatoes and peppers a little deeper into the soil  (we like to plant down to the first two leaves) – allowing for great root structure to develop.

It’s also easy on the back – you can dig all of your holes while standing up – which is a far cry better than bending and stooping over the soil with that little hand trowel or spade! It also eliminates trying to create a manageable hole with one of those big spade shovels!

As for time – we can usually have  the 100 or so planting holes for all of our tomato and pepper plants dug in 15 to 20 minutes!

post hole digger
Filling in around the plant with loose soil

As an additional benefit, unlike a traditional shovel or spade – you are simply lifting out a section of the soil without compacting any of the soil below  – making it even easier for those roots to expand.

So this year –  when it comes to planting – put away that little trowel shovel and grab a post hole digger.  It will make perfect planting holes in record time – save on your back – and get your plants off to a great start!

Oh, and as a little extra tip – we mix a few tablespoons of coffee grounds and a few crushed egg shells in every planting hole. It adds a bit of calcium and nitrogen to the soil as they break down – helping to feed your plants.

Happy Gardening – Mary and Jim

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15 thoughts on “How A Post Hole Digger Makes Planting Vegetable Gardens Easy

  • May 14, 2014 at 12:27 pm
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    Good morning, just wanted to say thank you for all of your helpful hints you have provided. Even though gardening is very different in South Texas my wife and I read your blog daily. It actually inspired us to start our own website where we can share what we have learned with our family and friends! Thank you!

  • May 9, 2014 at 9:34 pm
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    Well Jim and Mary….after seeing the article about your farm in the Newark Advocate, visiting Jim at Old World Garden Farms I have followed the plan and feel very good about the progress to this point. After taking from the soil for 35 years I got a load of well seasoned manure from a former student of Toboso (just down the road from you!), 6 bails of straw and a load of topsoil. Using the post hole digging manure/topsoil/composteggshell mix I have planted 36 tomato plants and beets and onions in between! As it sprinkles outside i think i hear the plants growing as I swing on my porch. i look forward to making a visit again and talking garden smack! 🙂 Bill

    • May 12, 2014 at 5:47 am
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      It sounds like you have a great start to your gardening season Bill! Our garden is now is as well – I cannot believe how quickly the weather has turned to such warmer temps. Now we need that rain to stop a little and get the grass mowed :)! Looking forward to more garden talk with you as well. 🙂

  • May 8, 2014 at 7:20 pm
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    And don’t forget what a great workout it is! I used a post-hole digger last weekend and it was better than going to the gym! Definitely pinning this gem. Can’t wait to watch your garden progress!

  • May 8, 2014 at 6:06 am
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    I have also heard the worms love the egg shells and multiply faster when having them to eat as they dissolve in the wet soil…. and that brings the added benefit of the worm castings to the tomatoes and the soil

  • May 7, 2014 at 12:41 pm
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    Well that is just a genius idea. Gotta get a post-hole digger!

    One thing though and that is that it’s my understanding that the calcium in eggshells is not readily taken up by the plants. Neither are crushed Tums or calcium supplement tablets, because they are Calcium carbonate and what you need for tomatoes is Calcium nitrate. What would be your opinion on this theory?

    • May 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm
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      I have heard that as well, and not sure how I feel about it. I guess that it is a process of breaking down and every little bit helps. And – we have always had really good luck since trying it 🙂

  • May 7, 2014 at 11:26 am
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    I like it. I have an almost completed raised row garden area and this sounds like a good way to remove enough dirt to plant. I also plan to use 1/2 gallon milk bottle ollas (slow watering devices) and this would be a good way to install those, too.

    • May 7, 2014 at 9:08 pm
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      That is a great point for the milk bottles – I would like to try that as well sometime. Good luck with your garden this year!

  • May 7, 2014 at 9:48 am
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    After years of planting a lg. garden I had to start planting only a few tomatoes and peppers in lg. patio type pots. I use a bulb planter to make my holes. Have done this for years when setting out annual flowers. Also I have St. Augustine grass and use a stand-up bulb planter to transplant plugs when I have a bare spot. Thanks for all your tips. Happy gardening!!!

  • May 7, 2014 at 8:41 am
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    Really good advice that I will take to heart saving my back! Thanks! Sent from Huawei Mobile

  • May 7, 2014 at 8:33 am
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    ***Excellent advice. And I’m one senior with a weak and painful back!!

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