Pit Garden Digging

This article originally appeared on our sister site A Prepping Homestead:

After planning, and then considering materials for our Pit Greenhouse, our first physical task has been digging.   In fact Pit Greenhouse Digging has consumed my life for the last week.  I’ve put over 30 hours on the tractor and moved a whole lot of dirt.  But finally we have a pit for our greenhouse!

I started digging on the west wall.    Our soil is about 1-2ft top soil, with very rocky riverbed material underneath.



The backhoe was used to to get about 5ft down and could get about 5ft of reach with each move of the tractor.


This meant I dug backwards from that West end moving in quadrants from South to North. This was done as we could only stack material on the South side of the pit due to our above ground garden being too close on the North wall. I could stack three different piles moving South to North before moving out the material and starting a new row. In order to keep a straight line for the walls, I dug the South and North positions with the backhoe inline with the walls, and got the rest from a center position. They say a picture is worth a thousand words:  (Sorry I’m not graphic artist!)

digging diagram

Material handling takes as much time as digging, especially since we don’t have a dump truck or trailer, so I moved material from one end of the property to another, one front bucket at a time.


Keep in mind that you’ll need a place to put all this dirt when you’re planning your excavation, or you’ll need to have the fill carted away.  I made sure to keep most of the top soil handy as we’ll need to back-fill around the walls, and build up the growing platform above our cold sink.


The next step was building a ramp down into the pit.


This will be used later as our access into the pit greenhouse, but also was used to get the tractor down into the pit to finish the last couple feet of digging.


I used that stick as a rough guide during digging with marks for 5ft, 6ft, and 7ft below the surface.   We’re putting the forms in today and will use a laser level and some hand digging to ensure they’re placed properly.  Then the next day we’ll be pouring the concrete for the footings.

Got something to say?  Please post in our forums!

Andrew Blessing

Pit Garden Supplies -- Supplies, Materials, and building techniques used on this project.
Pit Garden Footing -- A sturdy building starts with a good footing.

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