Double digging a second time?

ClareBroommaker's picture

My main vegetable garden was double dug about 25 years ago. For several years, I kept it in light, fluffy, never-tread- upon raised beds using the native soil plus every year's compost and mulch. It's pretty darn good soil even if I'd never double dug. (Thank you, geological forces). I found the raised beds drained a little too easily, that is why I did away with them. Oh, occasionally I plant on ridges or mounds, and celery in trenches, but mostly it is pretty flat.

Have you heard of anyone intentionally double digging a second time? I assume some minerals will have filtered downward so there could be advantage to bring them up again. On the other hand I really don't like to disturb the soil and break up the fungal communities, worms, etc. So I am certain I am not going to double dig again.

But have you ever double dug a second time? Can you think of a circumstance where it might seem appropriate?

mountainmoma's picture

If I compacts, do it again. I have had to do it more than once if I let the beds "go" For this location, that means not keeping enough mulch on top, as the extreme winter rains and later the intense summer sun will compact this soil. If I keep thick mulch on top, keep it moist all summer(water) and not one walks on it, it is fine. You can easily check, how friable is your soil at that second, lower level ? do a test hole. I also keep raised beds, so I cant realy go a full second level down as my raised beds are 1 ft deep. I need to gopher protection from the wire Hardware cloth) at the bottom of the beds. ( weather here is 60-100 inces of rain a year, all between Nov and April, most falling Dec-Feb or March. Then absolutely no rain for the other 6 months, and intense summer heat with no summer humidity. Gophers are insane menance)

Serinde's picture

Double digging is a real chore. I'd only do it if I were opening up a new bed. If you think your soil needs feeding, do it from the top and let the worms do all the hard work. I wonder if putting layers of compost and mulch on the bed at the back end to work in over the winter might help? But perhaps you get too much snow for that? Anyway, that's a while off!

Of course, there's always planting potatoes... best way I know of breaking new ground over a season and setting it up for your rotation next year. Boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew!

mountainmoma's picture

That is what keeping the beds with deep mulch does, you feed the soil from the top, the worms aerate, it protects from sun and rain, and no need to redo the double digging !