Double digging

Double digging

I do not subscribe to the no-digging school of thought for vegetable growers, rather, as with many things, I prefer the traditional practices.  To double-dig areas in regular cultivation in the garden every three years or so seems about right, and to plant a new soft fruit bed without digging deep into the subsoil and committing myself to manuring the soil as I go does not come naturally to me.  

We are blessed with plenty of ground around our home on the Isle of Man, so I am able to plant soft fruit bushes about five feet apart.  It looks ridiculously wasteful of soil when the plants are small, but I know from having worked at fruit beds in the past that giving plenty of space pays dividends, making the fruit easier to pick and the maintenance of the bushes, and their weeding, far more comfortable.  

Gooseberries, blackcurrants, red currants, white currants and rhubarb are all in, and the ground is prepared for a double row of raspberry canes.  We already have apples and pears and a lovely red crab apple too, but damsons and greengages are on order, and the trees are due to arrive today. Symbolically, to plant two trees during the Cop26 Climate Conference seems appropriate, though they were planned already.  The area for vegetables is under preparation.  We have a greenhouse, which is much more useful in the north of the country to boost the length of the growing season and ensure a better chance of success for crops like tomatoes and French beans.  

The double digging is extra effort, but it is worthwhile.

John Mann