double digging

001 double digging 005 double digging
006 double digging 012 happy worms
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016 done double digging 018 done double digging

Before we planted my Mom and Dad’s garden last Sunday, we double dug it. My dad gave us instructions. (I had already spread a good 4 inches of new compost on the garden.)

First we dug a 12 inch trench and moved all the dirt to the far end of the garden. (We I say “we dug” here, I will mostly mean “my husband dug”.) Then we turned the adjacent soil into the trench to progressively move the trench down the garden. The result is a bed loosened and amended 12 inches with minimally disturbed “structure”, which means happy worms and other soil inhabitants.

The bottom layer was dense and very hard to dig. I hope this year’s vegetables will benefit from this nice preparation. It took about 2 hours for the 3 of us. A good team project.

10 Comments. Leave new

  • All that work should result in a great vegetable garden for your mom and dad!

    The soil looks like it was in good condition to start with, and double-dug — perfect. (It's totally unlike the red clay subsoil that many folks around here in Upstate SC start with).

    Good luck with your gardening season,

  • We use a spading fork to loosen the subsoil under the first 12" so that we get 24" of loose soil. This is our first year doing that (last year we used a rototiller, which I will NEVER do again – learned our lesson), so we'll see how it goes.

  • It looks like Skippy is as good a garden helper as my dog is!

    Double digging is hard work but our beds seem to benefit from it.

  • I gave up digging a few years ago! I let the worms do all the hard work and just fork out the weeds. Look at Skippy! at least he could lend a paw with the digging!

  • This year I used the spading fork to dig and my back doesnt hurt as much. The garden looks good and the worms are happy too. Great work.

  • Skippy was lending a paw with the digging, but in the wrong spot. He did a lot of digging along the first edge we dug and got a lot of dirt into the grass. I asked him to stop and told him to rest in the undug dirt. He tried to help!

  • I think I would take Skippy's approach in the photos, lay down and watch 🙂

    PS. good to hear the crimsons are doing well. Your celeriac is doing well too. Keep thinking I should plant them out soon. When are you planting yours out?

  • I only have a couple celeriac sprouts this year. Its been a funny year for them. I planted seeds in Feb and a couple weeks later got about 10 sprouts. Then, when the April warm weather came, I suddenly found about 20 or additional sprouts. The, I put them out in the cold frame and the temp went up to 100*F one day, I had forgotten to water and the celeriacs fried – (fortunately no others). I lost 90% of the celeriacs and now have about 5 seedlings left. Arrgh.

    Anyway – mine are still pretty small and there is plenty of space in the cold frame AND I have an automatic water timer. I will probably wait a couple weeks yet to transplant them.

  • I don't know if you have any Portuguese heritage, but this is exactly how my father in law does it (from the Mainland) and in turn how my husband does it. The job is much improved with the use of a Portuguese Hoe — called something like a "sheashoo" (spelled phonetically) it's kind of like a combo of a large hoe, and a heavy pic-hoe you'd see at Home Depot. Up near you in Cambridge or Somerville you can find one, this is where my FIL bought ours. In the fall, when my FIL does this, he puts a row of leaves/grass/compost in the ditch before he covers it up. Enjoy and good luck! Sandy

  • My dad is a Dutchman. This is how he learned.

    As we worked, he told us about the diggers who worked in the tulip fields in Holland. When he was growing up there, they would dig the fields down to several feet by hand every year. The biggest guys would would work all day in the fields digging. He said there was a name for them, but couldn't remember and probably isn't a translation anyway. It was a word like maybe bouncer implying that they commanded respect and were powerful guys.

    We were feeling glad we had only a small plot to turn.

    It sounds like the tool you mention would have been useful to loosen up that bottom level, which is fill in my parent's yard.


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