[permaculture] Double-dug?

Dick Pierce dickpiercedesigns at gmail.com
Mon Dec 7 16:35:37 EST 2009


Soil structure and double digging - a very good question. So, to Chapter
2........

As most know, Nature placed her layers of soil in order and for a purpose.
The standard mold-board plow turns these layers upside down - the reverse
that Nature intended and it's damaging in the long run. So, one should be
curious and careful of any tilling technique to be sure that it retains
Nature's layers and disturbs the soil and soil biology as little as
possible, and for the good where it does.

Double-digging has this respect - Jeavons cautions students and
practitioners to not "turn" the soil as they dig the trenches. Rather, the
spading technique is to dig a spade-full and "drop" it off the spade blade
into the trench without "turning" it. In most decent soils soils this
happens easily and the spade-full crumbles in to medium sized clumps upon
impact in the trench - if clods are too big, they can be broken up a bit
with a gentle vertical poke from the spade (remember that fine soil or very
small clumps is another problem with tilling).

The 2nd dug layer is done by loosening the subsoil with a spading fork, so
no plowing/turn-over should take place. Also, many double-diggers dig double
only once - in subsequent seasons they only dig/spade one layer and often
this is with the spading fork only to loosen the soil. Each succeeding
season should see fewer tough weeds and more stubble/organic surface mulch -
thus lessening the need for tilling. And the microbial activity in the
loosened soil should start to work on it's own to "let the critters do the
double [even triple] digging for us."

Thanks for bringing up a good point. It really helps to get thee to a
double-digging or bio-intensive workshop - usually 2-8 hours - many more
subtleties and helpful techniques can be taught/discovered in a hands-on
class. Double-digging is one of my favorite examples where something can be
taught 2X quicker and 4X better outside and hands-on than inside and
lecture.

G'Luck

Dick Pierce

On Mon, Dec 7, 2009 at 9:08 AM, Golden Love <goldenlove at cruzio.com> wrote:

> Doesn't double digging destroy soil structure?
>
> Golden Love
> Love's Gardens
> "Your neighborhood solar-powered gardener"  (TM)
> California Licensed Contractor C27 363672
> 127 National St.
> Santa Cruz, CA 95060-6516
> Phone  (831) 471-9100
> Fax  ( 831) 471-9200
> goldenlove at lovesgardens.com
> www.lovesgardens.com
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
> [mailto:permaculture-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of Dick Pierce
> Sent: Sunday, December 06, 2009 12:45 PM
> To: permaculture
> Subject: Re: [permaculture] Double-dug?
>
> Probably lots of Google diagrams on how to do this - quite simple and
> productive but rather labor intensive. John Jeavons is the US Master of
> this
> technique borrowed from the French Intensive Method (fresh veggies to Paris
> markets from rural truck farmers for almost 12 months per year). "How to
> Grow More Vegetables on Less Land than You Ever Thought Possible" is the
> main book I'd recommend.
>
> A typical Google image is copied below - for example for a 4x8 foot bed
> (enough to see if you like the sweat equity investment and whether your
> soil
> is amenable), the method is to dig "trenches" 4' long by 1' wide by 10-16"
> deep - one foot at a time down the bed. To start, dig the 1st trench at one
> 4' end of the bed to one spade depth, or so - put this dirt in a
> wheelbarrow
> or other container for later transport to the other end of the bed. Now to
> the steady-state - use a spading fork to loosen the soil in the trench to
> another spade depth.
>
> Then finish trench 1 and start trench 2 - by digging another 4'x1'x10-16"
> trench next to/parallel to the first one, and placing the soil from this
> trench 2 into trench 1. Result is a finished, fluffed-up trench 1, and an
> open trench 2. Use the spading fork now in trench 2 to loosen the soil well
> for another 10-16" in trench 2.
>
> Continue to do this - dig an new trench, put soil in the previous trench,
> and then loosen the subsoil in the new trench with the spading fork. Most
> people use a 2x4' piece of plywood to stand on while digging - this nicely
> defines the far edge of the new trench and provides a little leverage to
> the
> spade during the digging. Move the 2'x4' a foot for each new trench. The
> plywood keeps the mud/dirt somewhat off of your boots and keeps your feet
> from compacting the soil.
>
> At the end of the bed you should have a trench that has been spaded out and
> loosened to another spade's depth (that is, double dug), but with no next
> trench to provide back-fill soil - use the soil excavated from the very 1st
> trench that is in the wheel-barrow to fill it.
>
> That's the basics in words - you'll get it better from the diagram below or
> other image on google and best by doing it. It is better with a friend(s)
> to
> urge you on and to share the task with you. Plants and plant roots love it
> -
> so do soil microbes as they use the loose pore structure created for root
> hairs to suck up minerals and O2 in solution in the newly created pores.
>
> We have very heavy clay here in C-TX and sometimes very shallow topsoils.
> Double digging won't work if you don't have at least 2 spade depths of
> topsoil. And heavy clay soils are tough, tough, tough to dig. But every
> gardener/farmer should do one bed once to see if the effort and the results
> are worth it - both often substantial. After 1-2 times of double digging,
> soil microbes and plant roots should take over the job of keeping the soil
> full of pore space for water, air, and root hairs.
>
> Good luck with it - fall/winter is a good time to do this on unfrozen,
> reasonably dry ground vs. the hot sun of late spring/summer - it's aerobic
> enough in cold weather.
>
> Dick Pierce
>
>
>
> On Sun, Dec 6, 2009 at 2:06 PM, Jeff <toobeeorknottoobee at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Just curious, can someone give me an explanation or a how to on double
> > digging a plot for biointensive plantings?
> >
> > -Jeff
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>
> --
> DickPierceDesigns at gmail.com
> SE-NE (summer) & Austin, TX (winter) cell- 512-992-8858
>
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-- 
DickPierceDesigns at gmail.com
SE-NE (summer) & Austin, TX (winter) cell- 512-992-8858

Please check out www.permie.us
Sept 14-25    -12-day PC Design -MV-MA
Sept 26- Nov -10-day PDC Design
                    Course, Austin TX - w'ends

-Dick's PC-Bio. on www.permie.us
-You Tube Dick Pierce for video clips



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