Nov 212007

U-Bar Digger, Lee Valley’s broadforkThe broadfork holds a lot of promise. You can break up soil without turning it, and, according to Eliot Coleman, you can prepare vast areas of garden in little time, with little effort (let gravity do the work). My broadfork is not the Coleman design (available at Johnny’s Seed), instead, the U-Bar Digger from Lee Valley. I tried to try it, but the ground has always been too hard to even get the tines in beyond a couple of inches. And this is in garden beds. I suspect the design. The tines, rather than being pointed, have a chisel edge (the ends of the rods are cut off at an angle, they don’t come to a point) and they don’t easily pierce clayey ground. And at 19 lbs, it’s quite a heavy hand tool to haul around. Maybe it works great on lighter soil, but the clay-loam we have here is where it would really make a difference. I’ll try again next spring.

  • Theron

    The trick with broadforks and heavy soil is to only do a few inches the first year, a few more the second, and so on. It may take 5 years to get down the full length of the tines. Also, they work best with sheet mulching so that the worms are doing most of the breaking up of the soil. After that, they really just fluff the soil that may have compressed under its own weight throughout the year.

  • nittyG

    I am using the biointensive method according to the book “How to Grow More Vegetables”. I live in central Iowa, with a loamy soil. Does anyone think I can get down the full depth?
    Also, I’m reading an interesting discussion, where one person argues that mulching is all you need.