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