After yesterday's post I got a comment from Gulland offering to send me a gardening tool that he makes. He didn't mention what it was so I went looking at his blog and found that it is called the broadfork. I've heard of this tool but never used one. From what I read it is used to replace the tiller and is kinda like a very wide pitchfork to loosen/till the soil. I don't generally till as I prefer disturbing the soil as little as possible leaving the soil community intact but I do use a sorta modified double dig method on my beds when I first set them up which lossens the soil 1-2 feet down resulting in a raised bed of loose soil 2-3 feet in depth. It seems this is the perfect tool for that as well as for loosening the soil every couple of years. Not only does it not use oil but I'd guess that it is a much more gentle process in terms of disrupting the layers of the soil. I think it aerates the soil without turning the layers, thus adding oxygen and improving the soil structure without destroying the soil community. That it is human powered is very important given our current climate, peak oil situation. Here's Gulland's blog post reply to a gardener named Tom and I thought I'd post it here as it addresses the issue perfectly:
Tom told me that he never even cranked his rototiller this year; he did it all with the broadfork he got last year. He also said that he would never have to use the rototiller in any of those beds again.
That's heavy stuff to me; I have created a business that provides an implement that allows people to step back from the use of fossil fuels to do the 'heavy lifting' in their gardens. Because of my broadfork, there is one less rototiller running in California this year!
Tom, I have to say that your email and photos have made me know that I am doing the right thing. Thank you for turning the lights on for me.
I am an Alabama native, and lived my first 42 years there. The Gulf of Mexico was in my backyard, and I loved visiting that coast.
The point of this blog was to inform people about the utility of the broadfork and give some insight into the man that makes them. I never wanted to be political, or controversial. I must say, however, that the disaster that has occurred with the deep water drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico has made me feel that any time I can steer someone away from the use of fossil fuels to good old fashioned hand labor, I have done a good thing. The reason you are reading this is that you believe the same thing that I do.
We need to lessen our need to use petroleum products. The low hanging fruit has all been picked, and the rest of the crude oil that is available is in the inhospitable places where it is probably best to just leave it alone.
When I've had a chance to try it out I'll be sure to post a review. If only I'd had a tool like this over the past decade or two I might have fewer back problems!! A big thanks to Gulland for getting in touch and for his generous offer.
Opps, edit. I did some more reading and wow. Gulland is not only building a great tool but the way he does it is a fantastic example of building the local economy. In these times of rising unemployment and a job market dominated by meaningless jobs at Wal-Mart and McDonalds, Gulland is creating a useful tool from scratch! Read more in this post on his blog.