About a fortnight ago I posted a picture on Instagram of a bed I was double digging at the allotment and as a result everyone was asking me – “what on earth is double digging?”
Well, double digging is something you do every two to three years to help improve the soil quality of the ground you’re going to be growing in. If you find that your soil is of a poor quality or very heavy, then you would want to double dig some well rotted manure or material from the compost bin.
Double digging is best done in the autumn or just after December, where the frost can work its magic and break down the big, heavy clods.
There’s quite a few videos on YouTube showing you how to double dig, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it, but this is the routine that I’ve adopted.
1. Dig a trench, about spade’s depth, along the bed and put the remaining excess soil to one side.
2. Fill the trench with well rotted material from the compost bin or rotted manure .
3. Directly next door to that trench, dig another trench and place the soil from the new trench on top of the first trench, essentially burying all of that new, fresh material.
4. Repeat that process until you reach the end of the bed, and then use the excess soil from your first trench to cover the last batch of composted material.
I’ve made the diagram below to show you what I mean.
Double digging is great as it improves aeration, which helps the roots of your plants penetrate the soil and grab the nutrients they require.
Drainage is also improved and stops the bed from become compacted. You’re also giving the ground some nutrients and new life in the form of worms and other micro-organisms that help to break down the soil.
Double digging is really hard work and I have to say, I really felt it by the end of the session – it really is better than going to the gym. You work a range of muscles and I walked away feeling that I’d made a difference to the plot.
You may have also read that this year I’m embarking on a growing a Victory Garden and preparing the ground for the coming seasons is one of the first things to do.