The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Meadow Creature broadfork


Our Meadow Creature broadfork came in the mail a week and a half ago, but between the flood and my cold, I only got to play with it for the first time Wednesday. My first impression? This tool is fun! I'm slowly running out of terraforming opportunities to keep myself happy during the winter, so adding the broadfork to the mix will be as good as an antidepressant.

Using a broadfork on the side of a bed

More seriously, in soft garden soil, the broadfork works almost too well. Mark had to rein me in, reminding me that our goal is merely a light loosening rather than to really till up the soil. I eventually decided that a gentle fluff from the edge of the bed is a good compromise in this kind of situation, which will hopefully add a bit of aeration without negatively impacting soil life. I plan to run a side-by-side comparison this spring, but suspect that beds loosened lightly with the broadfork will be especially good for root crops like carrots.

Using a broadfork on hard ground

I also wanted to see how well the broadfork performs in hard ground, so I headed up to the extremely poor soil of the starplate pastures for test run number two. Here, it took more effort to sink the tines into the earth and I had to put my back into it to loosen once the tines were engaged. This area will definitely be a good spot to work up a sweat next winter, and the soil will probably benefit much more from broadfork action up here than down in the main garden, but I'll admit this area felt more like work than like play.

So did I select the right size? I went for the smallest model, and that is definitely all I could handle in the starplate pasture. I suspect I could have worked with the next size up if I'd stuck to the main garden, but I'm not so sure the extra two inches of loosening depth are really mandatory. So, yes, I think Mark's nudge toward the smallest size was a good choice, and for most female gardeners I would recommend the same. If you're particularly tall or brawny, though, feel free to choose the 14 inch!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Where did all your snow go??? Here there is still about half a foot of compacted ice left, but the garden beds are poking through. Yes, more snow's on the way. I love watching your pictures and reading about what my own gardening season will look like, soon!
Comment by Kaat Thu Mar 19 13:05:38 2015

I once commented to a vendor at a Mother Earth News Fair who was selling broadforks that their products were "Garden Porn". He and I laughed and laughed and laughed. And then stopped and nodded.

:) Karen B

Comment by Karen B Fri Mar 20 21:22:03 2015

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