One thing I hear a lot about (and teach my agriculture volunteers) is the method of double digging for garden beds. It’s a lot of work, but there’s a bunch of reported benefits, so that’s one of the main reasons we keep teaching it, even though it can be a bit hard to convince people of it’s usefulness for the amount of work it takes. In this time during quarantine, where I’ve been working on updating our training sessions as I have no volunteers, and so wanted to dig (haha) a bit more into double digging to see if it’s really worth all that fuss. I was surprised not to see that much info here on ECHO community, or in a lot of academic journals, though I did see one or two articles in some African journals that unfortunately I was unable to access.
So, if any of you and give me anecdotal evidence or can point me in the direction of reports/experiments of benefits (or lack thereof) of double digging, that would be most helpful.
Generally I’ve heard:
–the loosen soil makes a better aerated zone for deeper root growth
–the addition of manure/biochar/etc is helpful nutritionally, and enhances the soil properties
–it can extend your growing season, particularly if surrounded by pits and trenches, as the loosened area with amendments will act as a sort of basin to store water in. (I think perhaps deeper roots could also come to play in being able to hold out longer in dry conditions.)
– Conversely, I’ve also heard that it helps with drainage.
–by double digging you are careful to maintain topsoil on top, so it’s better than just general tilling.