What is a Broadfork, and How Do you Use One?

I’ve had the opportunity to try out a broadfork recently, and here are a few things I learned:

  • They actually work in hard, clay soil
  • They do not get rid of weeds, but they loosen up the soil around the roots so they’re easier to pull
  • They’re pretty fun, and once you get a rhythm going you can cover ground at a good pace

Check out my video to see how a broadfork works and for a demonstration of using it in two different soil conditions.

It seems that a broadfork would work very well in conjunction with a layer of mulch (which would eliminate the weeds) and loosen the soil enough for planting. This is something I’d like to try in the future! That would mean planning ahead enough to get a thick layer of mulch laid down this fall and also getting a broadfork of my own. We shall see!

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A Broadfork, Onions, and Taters

4/10/16 – 4/24/16 Headlines of the week:

  • Broadfork video fail
  • Planting onions
  • Potato planting experiment
  • Seed orders!!

Jan and Andy lent me their broadfork to try out in my garden and I was on a roll making a video about it but then my equipment got the best of me. Filming is hard when your camera is your phone and your stand consists of a step ladder, a rock, and your Otterbox holster. Anyway, for now a picture will have to suffice. This is a broadfork:

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The broadfork worked well. I was even able to try it in the new garden, which is clay, and hasn’t been mowed or tilled… and it worked rather well! Wasn’t expecting that!

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I planted a bunch (106, in case you care to know) of Wala Wala onions (known for their sweetness) and Jan and Andy gave me their extra Copra (known for their ability to keep for a long time) onion sets so I planted about 50 of those as well.

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And here… this is a small patch of my garden (with my compost contraption in the background) I managed to mulch heavily last fall. I wanted to do the entire garden like this, because as you can see there are no weeds where there is grass/hay/mulch. And the ground underneath is loose and moist. If I would have mulched the entire garden like this, in theory I would have been able to plant without tilling this spring, by pulling the mulch aside for the seeds. That is my ultimate goal. But for now I just have this little triangle of fabulous mulch, and I decided to stick some potatoes in there. I’ve never grown potatoes before, but some advocate using mulch so I decided I’d put them here and see what happens. Since I don’t have a ton of space, I’ll be growing new potatoes. This means I planted the seed potatoes close together (I honestly had no clue how close to plant them, though. Which is why I’m doing this! I’ll find out what I did right and what I did wrong!) and will harvest them before the potatoes are full-size. Another option is to “thin” them by harvesting some new potatoes in order to leave room for the rest to finish out their growth.

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My green onions are finally popping up in the cold frame! I planted them a week or two ago. Since it’s been so warm this past week (in the 70s most days) I’ve been keeping the top off the cold frame so the lettuce doesn’t get bitter from too much heat. If the nights get chilly I’ll cover it back up again, though. So essentially my cold frame is now serving as a raised bed. 2016-04-23 17.27.00

Isn’t the lettuce pretty? I’ll be doing some serious thinning soon, and will probably have enough thinning for a salad.

I’m rather late with this, but this week I also ordered seeds (from High Mowing Organic seeds and Pinetree Garden Seeds) and expect them any time now. Since I won’t be selling much (if any) of my produce this year, I didn’t want to spend a fortune on seeds. But I was pleasantly surprised at the free shipping High Mowing offers and the super low prices at Pinetree! The ones I picked out are also high quality (organic and non-GMO for the most part) and heirloom or open pollinated, since I’d like to try my hand at saving seeds this fall.  With that in mind, the price for seeds is actually more like an investment. I’ll be getting returns in food and profit from selling that food for years to come if I am diligent and do things correctly!