Double digging for bio-intensive garden

Composts, animal manure, green manure, cover crops, no dig gardening… there is a plethora of options when it comes to raising, naturally, the fertility of our soils.

The year we established our veggie patch we did no-dig gardening, the second year we did trench and leap-frog composting, last year we did crop rotation

This year we’re opting for double digging.

Our soils have suffered a fair bit with the massive downpours we received this Summer plus the soaring heat waves, so it is necessary to replenish the ground with nutritional goodness.


This technique is used a lot in bio-intensive market gardening.

  1. Dig a trench (one-spade wide by one-spade deep –or, if you can, two-spade deep) and place the soil into a bucket.
  2. Move the bucket to the other side of the garden bed.
  3. (Optional) fill the trench with leaves (arrowroot, canna lily, comfrey). Water well.
  4. Dig a trench next to that first one and tip the soil into the first trench.
  5. Then dig another trench, add some leaves, water well and tip the soil into the previous one.
  6. Keep going until you get to the end of the row and tip the soil from the buckets into that last trench.
  7. Sprinkle a handful of blood and bone, wood ash, and dolomite lime onto the surface of the soil. Water well and mulch with 10cm-thick straw.
  8. Wait for a week or two before planting.
  9. Plant densely

Happy gardening!

Photo credit: Hannah Heyn – a gorgeous soul, keen gardener, baker extraordinaire and dear friend…

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