I was recently photographed (and soon to be interviewed) for a forthcoming feature in the Mail on Sunday entitled ‘Digging Life into your Soil’. At first I thought – well, how much can be said on the subject of digging? But then when I thought about it I realised that not only is there much to be said, but it’s also one of the most important points in any vegetable garden. I also found, to my horror, that I hadn’t really touched on the subject here at mtp. Surely a travesty. The only reference I could find was this short post on ‘Bastard Trenching’.
I know everyone has a different digging regime but here at mtp it usually goes a little like this. Around, September time when a few beds start to be emptied I throw in some green manure seeds. I usually go for something quick like Mustard (I’ve heard so many scary stories about how other manures are difficult to get rid of). I give it about two or three weeks then I dig it in, chopping it as I go. This usually leaves some green matter on the surface which I cover with a layer of either manure or compost. In a few weeks the whole lot will have disappeared below ground – thanks to the worms.
Bastard Trenching seems to be a great way to prepare any bed used for cutting flowers. Layering the manure under a spit of soil forces me to cultivate the soil quite deeply and means that the goodness is securely locked underground waiting for Spring.
On the rest of the plot I alternate between digging in manure, or compost depending on what I plan to grow in each bed. I usually don’t dig in lime until the Spring as there’s less chance it will be washed away in the rains. We have two wood fires at home and so produce a lot of wood ash. If there is room I add this to the compost bin. However, in mid winter when the composting really slows down I either throw the ash on the ground where I plan to grown onions or I start a wood ash pile, or collect it in a bucket.
One of the soil cultivation methods that I haven’t tried is the ‘no dig’ method. At this time of year, I’m so eager to get out there and ‘do’ something in the garden (anything!) that I can’t resist digging. Maybe when I’m older and find digging difficult then I will adopt this method. But until then I am totally addicted to digging. .
So, don’t forget if you see a photo of a pregnant woman digging and smiling like an idiot, while trying not to stick her bum out at an awkward angle – don’t choke on your cereal – it’s just me.
Oh and I’d love to hear about your digging regimes.