Double Digging

 

When double digging the soil is cultivated to a depth of two spits. This technique is good on land which hasn't been cultivated before or where a hard sub-soil layer is impeding drainage and the penetration of plant roots. Double digging improves the friability of the sub-soil without bringing it near the surface, so the richer layer of the top soil is always closest to the young roots of cultivated plants. 

1. If you have a large area to dig divide it into two equal areas. Then you can dig to one end and work back down the other side to finish where you began.

2. Take out a trench the width and depth of a spade and move the soil adjacent to where the final trench will be.

3. Once all the soil has been removed from the first trench, fork over the base of the trench.

4. Compost or manure can be evenly spread over the base of the trench.

5. Dig and throw forward the soil adjacent to the trench. Make sure the soil is turned over and perennial weeds are removed.

6. When a depth of a spit of soil has been thrown forward into the first trench a second trench will have been created and the base of this is forked over.

7. Continue the cycle until you get to the final trench and once the base has been forked over fill this in with the soil from the first trench.

The best time to double dig is in autumn or winter during a frost free and relatively dry period, this will allow the winter frosts to help breakdown the soil ready for spring planting. Clay soils are best being double dug because it will improve the drainage of the soil. Never dig clay soil when it's really wet and sticky as your weight will compress the clay into hard lumps.