Having known that it takes at least 1000 years to build a farmable soil layer to grow crops, what soil debilitating practices have you cut-off? Soil determines the survivability of our crops because it holds the nutrients that plant needs to thrive to keep feeding us. I can tell you that adopting good agronomic practices on your farm will help to prevent usage of synthetic fertilisers for farming. On the flip side however, imbalanced soil predisposes crops to pest and disease infestation. Click here to learn more about DEEP SOIL PREPARATION- a must-know for every Bio-intensive farmer.
For week 8, as underscored in our last lesson, we are diving deep into the act of double digging. Unfortunately, when people hear of double digging, they frown at it, saying words such as it’s a difficult task, it’s too hard to do, it takes too much time, it cannot be used for commercial farming and so on.
However, farmers who really understand the benefits of double digging pay less attention to the drudgery but consider its upsides such as getting good yields and great harvest from a relatively small area of land.
Here are some instructions to follow before double digging a bed.
1.Measure your bed size (This is well explained in our last episode)
2.Put in sticks to mark the four corners of the bed and string it.
3.Remove any grass and weed on the marked site.
4.Add water slightly to the soil for a day or two but if it (the soil) is dry and hard, pour enough water and allow it to sink-in for two days.
5.Leave the soil to rest for another day.
Procedures for double digging.
To start with, place your digging board (details on how to take measurement of the board was discussed in episode six find here) on the bed leaving approximately 12inches from the end of the bed for the first trench. This allows your weight to be evenly distributed on the bed to prevent recompacting the soil.
Step-by-step guide to double digging a bed.
1.Accross the narrow end of the bed, dig a trench of 1 foot wide and 1foot deep (that is 12 inches) with a spade and put the soil in a wheel barrow, this will be used to fill-up the last trench after double digging is completed or might be used to make the seed trail.
- Loosen the soil in the first trench with a spading folk 12inches down, then dig the folk into the full depth of the soil or as deep as it can penetrate and push the handle downward so as to level through the soil. This loosen-up and erects the soil, but if the folk cannot go through easily, pull it out a little and then push down, you can go only as deep as the soil will loosen easily. If your soil is really bad you might want to add compost into the trench after loosening it.
3.Move board 12inches backward, dig out the upper part of the second trench 12inches deep and 12 inches wide with the digging spade. Try not to disturb the soil layers as much as possible because different organisms live in the different layer which you will not want to destroy their homes. Put the soil from the second trench to fill the first trench dug and loosen it. Continue the process till you have dug across the trench.
4.Loosen the lower 12inches of the soil in the second trench with the digging folk.
5.Continue in this pattern with the third trench and as many more trenches needed to finish the bed.
6.After every third trench, rake the bed to level the already double-dug portion of the soil.
7.When you have loosened the lower part of the last trench, rake the whole bed and level it. You can add some soil from the first trench in the wheel barrow after raking to fill-up where necessary.
8.Spread half inch to 1inch layer of compost.
9.Plant seedlings or seeds as soon as possible after double digging. If you do not transplant or plant crop immediately, cover the bed with shield nets and keep the bed evenly moist to help microorganisms still alive.
It is important to avoid walking on the bed that you have dug, movement on the bed will recompact the soil. Remember that the purpose of double digging is to aerate the soil, so when you walk on it, you recompact the soil and you will have to dig again, therefore the need to avoid walking on the beds. In fact, we had said in one of the episodes that the beds should be made moderate and not too long so as to accommodate footpaths.
You can improve the structure of your soil, but have a little control over the texture. This point marks the end of the two weeks lesson. I am excited to inform you that we shall be looking into another interesting topic next week. Week 9 is all about COMPOST MAKING. Compost is what we feed our soil; it is the food our soil eats. Will you like to know more about this “SOIL GOLD” (as I often call compost)? Watch out for the next episode.
Meet our Instructor/Author
Abosede Olawumi Benedict is an astute, well-traveled Organic Farm Manager and Trainer with over 15-years of experience in the farming industry.
Her expertise intercuts the following areas: Grow Bio-intensive System, Organic, Sustainable or Regenerative Farming, Healthy Living (Nutrition), Sustainable living, Natural building, Compost making, Holistic Management, Farm Management & Trainer and Organic Integrated Pest Management to mention just a few.
Kindly reach the undersigned for further enquiries
0904 2607 067
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