I’m sure lots of you know all about single digging, that is as opposed to the dreaded double digging or ‘ bastard trenching’ as my RHS tutor once called it!

Today I initiated my lovely nephew and his mate in the finer arts of the single dug trench and although I am not certain they appreciated the finer points, they made stirling efforts to at least look interested and to follow instructions relatively closely.

Some of you may be wondering what the hell is ‘single digging’ ? Well the first trench is dug a ‘spit’ down and a ‘spit’ across. A spit being approximately a standard spade depth. This soil is placed in a barrow and the next trench dug throwing the soil into the first trench. At the final trench the soil from the first trench is used to backfill. Simple. Double digging simply roughs up a second spit’s depth of soil and usually adds some organic matter before replacing the topsoil.

We added plenty of gravel and some well rotted farm yard manure, minded all the sticky, slippery worms

wiggling their way through the slabs of ‘soon to be concrete’ like clay and pulled out the worst of the grass clumps, last winters phacelia went in with the grit and manure.

Progress was slow, it’s hard work, even if you’re 17 and solid muscle, this is hard graft. But the lads are grafters, they’ll be back next week for another couple of hours of digging.

This time I am setting out, we’re not wasting time on digging over what will be paths, just  the new Iris beds. MTB New Idea

Week 3 and we’ll be onto the vegetable beds, might even get a fine tilth seed bed ready, by the time spring frosts are past of course.

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