When it comes to garden tools it seems we all have one or two that we use on a regular basis. Whether it be the length of a handle, the curve of a blade, the weight, or the way it fits in our hand, there is just something about using a tool that is right for you. One of my favorites is called a broadfork so named for the broad width of the tines not the width of the person using it-although if you know me, you know! The fork is not an everyday tool, but when it comes time to clean up a garden bed it is a valuable asset.
One of my favorite tools.
A broadfork is used to loosen and aerate the soil while it also loosens weeds. After harvesting vegetables and removing the spent plants, my soil is usually packed down. I like to throw some compost on top then broadfork the area in both directions. This practice leaves the soil loose and ready to for the next planting.
Step down on the top until the tines are sunk into the soil.
After pushing it down into the soil, you pull back on handles.
The broadfork leaves the soil light and fluffy.
My husband and I debated for a few years as to whether or not a broadfork would work in our garden. After giving it a try, we have found that not only is it perfect for our raised beds, but we also use it in the beds we are working to create on top of our limestone soil. We are not able to push the tines in very far (only and inch or so in some places), but it helps break and loosen the soil before we add compost and mulch.
Broadforks and big, heavy, and relatively expensive, and they are arguably not for everyone. We, however, love ours, and it has become a trusted and well-used part of our gardening routine.