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Fluffy, loose raised bed

April 2, 2011

Bundesgartenschau 2009 - Raised bed gardening ...

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How Double-Digging *Elevates* the Raised Bed

Good day, dear reader.  You may have read the word “biodynamic” on this blog or elsewhere, or come in contact with *French Intensive Gardening*, which is where the term was derived from.  The goal of biodynamics is treating the soil as a living thing, and empowering it to achieve great production, in our case, great production of FOOD.  In this quest, providing the proper environment for a plant’s roots allows massive production.  Logically, we would not expect massive root growth in a densely packed soil, or in concrete.  What we do want is loose, fluffy and nutrient rich soil.  We can get that by *Double-Digging*.

Amazing Loftiness

Let me describe the double dig as it applies to a two foot by two foot square.  Imagine in your gardening mind’s eye a raised bed that is a two foot square.  Bring your flat blade spade and digging fork along, and a three foot by two foot piece of plywood. Set the plywood on the left side of the raised bed.  Take your (mental) spade out and dig out the topsoil on the right side of the raised bed, placing the soil on the plywood (way over on the left side). Dig this trench down one foot deep, by one foot wide.

Okay. Done?  Take a nice sip of some cool lemonade or sun tea.  Step back and breath the fresh dirt garden smell. Another sip.  Okay.  Let’s continue.

Take your spading fork and dig the soil in the bottom of the fresh trench, going down another foot, and replacing the soil to the trench. Bust up the clods.  Don’t kill the worms.  Step back, admire, and have another sip of tea.  Mmmmm, sweet.

Now take the flat blade shovel and dig the left side of the raised bed. Now when you remove the top one foot of soil, place it in the right side one foot trench.  Bust those clods, but remember to be nice to the worms. Dig the left side trench down to one foot deep.  Take the spading fork, dig down in the left trench one foot, turning the soil and bustin the clods as before. Stand back, admire, breath, listen to the birds (in your mind’s ear)…the bird’s singing, take another sip of (your mind’s taste buds) tea, and smell the roses.

Okay.  Take the spade and place the soil from the plywood into the left trench.  Bust those clods.  Pick up the spilled soil that fell outside the raised bed, and place it on top. All right then, You have just created (all within your head at this point) a double-dug four square foot, biodynamic, fluffy, loose and super-elevated MICRO-ENVIRONMENT. As you admire your work, you will notice that the height of your raised bed has increased by perhaps 50%, (oh, heck it is only in your head, make it a 100%).  The raised bed is a whole lot taller, that is the point.

If you were a Carrot…

If you were a carrot imagine how easy it would be to stretch out your root down into this light and fluffy soil.  Okay?  You are gonna have some great carrots here!  Now take out your paint brush and some wood sign material and in BIG, BOLD LETTERS paint yourself a sign that says  “NO STEP HERE” or something like that to remind you and everyone else not to place their feet in your raised bed soil, because you do not want it to ever get compacted.

Go ahead and put your favorite vegeys in there, and watch them grow.  Dynamically.

Oh, I forgot one thing…

Don’t you hate it when some dork is giving you directions, and you get to the end, and they go – “Oh and don’t forget, back at step 1.7.3 to _______” (fill in the blank)???  Well, it is a good thing that we are only working in your mental garden right now, isn’t it?  Because I am about to tell you the first thing you are spozed to do is place one to three inches of manure on top of the raised bed soil. Hah!  When you get out to your REAL garden don’t forget to add the manure, first thing.

Yesterday, I went out and did this on my raised bed #5.   It is about 2 foot by 20 foot by 8 inches high. Well, it was.  Now it is 2′ x 20′ x 14″ high.  I was astounded by how much loft I gained by this double digging.  Bed number five will be my onion bed, and I am envisioning that the onion sets will be very good to me.  And my tired old back won’t be so stinkin sore when I start harvesting those onions.  Okay, the time for mental exercises is over.  Get your stuff and meet me out in YOUR garden, right away.  I will be right behind you (in our mind’s eye.  wink, wink).



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