Make Your Own Broadfork Garden Tool

Prepare the soil in your raised bed in one-sixth the time using a U-bar, also known as a broadfork garden tool.

| March/April 1980

This article on how to build a broadfork is excerpted from a 1980 MOTHER EARTH NEWS interview with French intensive gardening expert John Jeavons, author of "How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruits (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine."  

Because the good folks at Common Ground feel that even intermediate technology is often beyond the financial reach of the people who need it the most, they're constantly looking for sophisticated low technology solutions to the problems presented by small-scale agriculture.

One such innovation — the broadfork or "U-bar" — was designed at John Jeavons' request by two Stanford University engineering students who worked from traditional French and Canadian designs for similar tools. The broadfork garden tool is used after a bed has been initially well prepared with a spade and fork, and can—for all subsequent preparations—reduce the required digging time from approximately two hours per 100 square-foot bed to 20 minutes or less!

Jeavons graciously allowed MOTHER EARTH NEWS to publish drawings of the broadfork so anyone who wants to try biointensive gardening can cut his or her labor time while keeping yields up.

7/30/2017 2:53:03 PM

@ Howard Boldt see links below! Those plans are correct. If you look at the Broadfork that Johnny's Selected Seeds has. These Tines are in fact 3/8" in diameter. This Broadfork is not for Hardpan. You will need a Hardpan Broadfork if you haven't already double dug your Garden area or you have clay. May I suggest or

12/11/2016 9:36:31 AM

That's really great you start planning what to grow this year. Last year it was a big problem for me, but this year I need gardening broadfork more than I've ever needed it, so I'm really curious. If you planned every single plant, think about the tools, that's really time.

5/15/2015 1:23:04 PM

I recently purchased a new Broadfork by Valley Oak Tool Company with steel handles. It was not inexpensive, but after trying to make my own, it was worth the cost. It's super strong and now I am a fan! I hope everyone has a great season this year :)

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