If you’re about to cultivate the soil in your new garden, you should try double digging. But what is double digging in gardening? Double digging is the process of increasing soil aeration and drainage capacity. The double digging technique requires two layers of soil to be loosened with the addition of organic matter, such as compost, organic fertilizer, or animal manure.
This technique is ideal if you’re in a hurry to get great soil. The result will give you well-drained and fertile soil, but it does require a lot of work.
Why Use The Double Digging Technique?
To make sure your plants grow properly, the soil needs to be aerated. By removing the top layer, exposing the subsoil, adding compost, and replacing the topsoil, you are doing your piece of earth a favor.
You are giving the roots the chance to reach deeper. In turn, the plants don’t need to be watered as much. At the same time, more plants can grow in the same area because not a lot of plants are competing for nutrients and moisture from the topsoil.
The double digging technique is tough work, but the process can yield amazing results. Knowing what is double digging in gardening is the first part of getting great soil, healthy roots, and bountiful harvests.
The Essential Tool You Need To Double Dig
Double digging does not require a lot of tools or equipment. The task is difficult, but it does not require heavy machinery to work.
For such gardening exercise, you need a dependable spade. It is recommended that you use a short-handled spade with a squared tip. Remember, you are going to be digging beds. The spade you choose for the job should have blades that are sharp enough to cut through thick earth.
Why a short-handled spade than the lengthy standard one? This type of spade bends your knees while digging, which takes the strain off your lower back.
As an extra tool, you may need a garden cart or a wheelbarrow. You can carry your organic matter – fertilizer, compost, or animal manure – on the cart. It can also double as a transport for soil.
The Benefits Of Double Digging In Gardening
After knowing what is double digging in gardening and applying it in your garden, you will find that the results are wonderful.
When done properly, double digging can further make the soil a better environment for your plants. Aside from aerating it, you are helping other microbes that are beneficial for the plant. Planting seeds or transplanting seedlings straight onto the bed without double digging will not yield great results. That is why this method is especially preferred for farming, where intensive crop growth is required. And by adding organic matter when working with the soil, you are making the topsoil fertile.
Before You Start Double Digging
You have the tools for the job and the knowledge behind what is double digging in gardening. But before you start digging that soil, remember to avoid walking on the bed. The last thing you want is for that soil to be compacted again.
Another thing to note is that each spring, you might need to loosen the top surface of the soil bed with a digging fork and add fresh organic matter to replace any nutrients lost from last year.
How many times in a year or season do you need to double dig? It depends on your soil time. You’ll probably only need to exercise the double digging technique once every three to five years. Test the soil and see how compact it is before you decide.
How To Double Dig A Garden: The Basics
Remember that the soil is never turned when you double-dig. You are only loosening the topsoil. Here is a step by step guide in implementing the double digging technique:
- Using a garden spade, dig a trench one shovel-length deep and the length of your planting area.
- Remove the dirt taken from the trench and place it on the wheelbarrow. If you do not have a wheelbarrow or garden cart, you can use a tarp instead.
- Next, you would need to loosen the soil at the bottom of the trench by adding another 10 inches or shovel-length.
- Your trench is now ready for organic matter. Add compost, animal manure, or other organic material for this. If you have a spading fork, thoroughly mix the material into the subsoil. Otherwise, a garden spade will do the job.
- Dig another trench parallel to the first. Then repeat steps 2 and 3.
- Use the topsoil from the second trench to fill the first one. Continue to add and mix compost in.
- Repeat the system until you’ve dug and enhanced the entire plant bed.
- Don’t forget about the pile of trench dirt from your first dig. Fill the last trench with that soil and mix it with organic matter as well.
Once you implemented the double digging method in your plant beds, you will see the difference in the crops yielded, the healthy roots, and the nutrient-rich soil. You have allowed the microbes, plants, and soil to properly work together, happily co-existing because of the aeration you have given them. You can repeat this process every few years or every time you grow new plants.
It requires time and a lot of elbow grease, but now that you know what is double digging in gardening and how to implement it properly in your garden, you can enjoy the results. Learn more gardening techniques.