What does “double digging” the soil mean?
Double digging is an old garden technique of amending the soil in a flower or vegetable garden that is still as effective today as it was back in medieval Europe.
But be forewarned: double digging is a lot of work. In fact, just thinking about it makes us break out in a sweat. The term comes from “double the depth” of a normal spade or shovel blade–hence double-digging. You will also be adding one third of the depth of your spade or shovel in soil amendment to the entire garden you are digging in.
To get started, dig out the topsoil to the depth of your spade or shovel in a trench one spade wide along one end of your bed and set aside in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp.
Turn, break and aerate the next spade depth and width. Work in one third by volume of soil amendment. Blend together with turned-over soil and fill in the first trench.
Now repeat the process with another trench. Blend that soil with more soil amendment, and transfer to the previous trench. At the end of the bed, place the topsoil from the wheelbarrow or tarp over the last section, add amendment, and mix it in.
Make sure to remove any rocks or old pieces of roots as you fill in each trench.
Now–if you haven’t collapsed yet–go ahead and plant your flowers. Better yet, plant a new crop of veggies. You’ll need the vitamins to help you recover from the exhaustion! More seriously–if you have poor soil, double-digging is one of the most effective ways to improve the soil to a good depth, one that will allow your plant roots plenty of room to grow. Rototilling and such can help too but it doesn’t improve much but the top layer of soil. Double-digging may be labor-intensive, but it works.