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Double Digging

April 19, 2012 - GrowOrganic
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Double digging revitalizes garden soil and gives it better tilth. It’s one of the basic practices of “French intensive” or “biointensive” organic gardening. French intensive gardening is named after 19th century market gardens in France that produced large amounts of vegetables in small spaces by enriching the soil, planting crops close together (to keep moisture in and weeds down), and topping off with season extending glass bell jars (cloches) placed over crops in…
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Video Transcript
Hi I'm Tricia an organic gardener.

Soil preparation is so important in organic gardening and today i want to talk about double digging this is a technique that was invented by french market gardeners in the nineteenth century. The double digging technique involves loosening the soil to about double the depth of the head of a garden spade. Double digging for initial soil preparation really does a good job if your soil is compacted but if you're soil is nice and loose and loamy you dont want to double dig because that would just disturb the earthworms. To double dig you'll need a large tub or a wheelbarrow, spade and a digging fork or a broad fork, fertilizers and compost can be added at this time too especially fertilizers with phosphorous which moves very slowly through the soil. Double digging is hard work but it's really the best way to loosen your soil and it doesn't create hard pan like rototilling can and remember you don't have to double dig your whole garden just the planting area. Before you double dig make sure your soil is dry enough, to check soil moisture dig down six inches grab a handful of soil and squeeze it together if the lump you make crumbled easily the soil is dry enough to double dig if you double dig while you're soil is wet you're gonna do more harm than good so just wait until it dries out. Mark out your bed with stakes and strings that way you won't do more work than you need to. Were going to dig a trench it's going to be the width of the bed and it's going to be no smaller than the width of the broad fork its going to be twelve inches deep then were going to put the dirt into the bucket. Okay now for the easy part were going to grab the broad fork and where going to loosen up the soil underneath the soil we just dug out oh this soil is so nice an loose nows the time to add the fertilizer and now a little compost. I'm going to dig the second trench the topsoil that I dig up from the second trench is going to replace the topsoil from the first trench continue this pattern until you get to the last trench. When your finished trenching just add all the soil from the first trench into the last trench so now just water your bed a little bit to let the dirt settle and you're ready for your French intensive garden and to grow organic for life!

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Marty Kraft Says:
Apr 21st, 2012 at 8:49 am

Why double dig when you can use no till methods? No till keeps more organic matter in the soil and less Carbon in the atmosphere.

Marty Kraft Says:
Apr 21st, 2012 at 8:55 am

I appreciate that you did say that if your soil is loose you didn’t have to double dig. However you can compost heavily and plant right into hard soil. The earthworms and other organisms will loosen your soil for free.

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