[permaculture] Double-dug?

Scott Pittman scott at permaculture.org
Mon Dec 7 17:48:53 EST 2009

While a fan of John Jeavons for reasons other than his double dug advocacy,
I do not think that double digging is the end all and be all of building
soil fertility.

Bill Mollison, and the experience of countless pc practitioners have shown
that simply forking the top soil layer and then thickly mulching over that
with whatever organic material comes to hand will lead to an explosive
growth of fungi, bacteria and other soil organisms which will develop all of
the same benefits of double digging.  The primary difference may be that
double digging helps accelerate the process if one uses the ole Ruth Stout
method of sheet mulching. I personally don't believe that humans have come
up with a better technology than the lowly earthworm. 

Perhaps it makes sense to double dig this year's new garden beds because
nature doesn't work fast enough but for those beds you plan on putting to
cultivation in the next years just use a good broadfork and mulch!

As far as double dug gardens, yes it disturbs the topsoil microorganisms,
and structure but nowhere close to the distruction created by a rototiller
or moldboard plow.  Certainly more than the broadfork.

For me it has always been a matter of how to minimize my labor and double
digging is not about that!  I have always thought that the double dig school
was first cousin to the protestant work ethic or arbit macht frei.

My $ .02 

Scott Pittman
Permaculture Institute

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