Broadfork: Shake, Shimmy and Till!

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greenhouse or workout room

Broadfork: my new best friend in the greenhouse

greenhouse or workout room
Greenhouse or workout room?

There are gardening tools, and then, there are gardening tools. The Meadow Creature broadfork is definitely the latter, a precision-built tool made right here on Vashon Island. Bob Powell is the Meadow Creature mastermind who “…re-invented the broadfork, taking a favorite tool for aerating already-loose soil and turning it into an indestructible workhorse for breaking the hardest ground, that’s still easy to use for cultivating and aerating.¹” The first time I saw what it could do in the greenhouse, and I was sold.

Broadfork ground breaking tool
My new built-to-last, heavy-duty broadfork

After returning one that I had borrowed beyond an appropriate amount of time, I decided to buy my own. Depending on tine size and width, these tools run anywhere between $189 – $209, and being all-metal, will last several lifetimes. After a winter without water, the soil in my greenhouse had the tilth of a parking lot, another deciding factor in my purchase. There is no shovel nor a back strong enough for hardpan like this, and my rototiller would have just bounced around and caused me harm.

Here’s a look at the me and my broadfork in action. My clip below is a bit weak and unedited, but the ones following it are pretty wonderful, highlighting farmer friends of mine doing the broadfork shuffle on Vashon Island. The first time you use it on untilled soil it’s a pretty tough bit of exercise as you can see, but in an existing bed or planting plot that’s been tilled before, the fork makes the work a breeze while tilling deeper than any machine rototiller could ever hope to.

Intro to the Broadfork

Caitlin Demonstrates How to Use It

Rob Explains Why Use One

The Yarkins Make a Game of It

Choosing a Meadow Creature  from Meadow Creature on Vimeo.

 

¹”Meadow Creature Broadfork,” http://meadowcreature.com

13 COMMENTS

  1. WOW Tom. Nice to see you getting your green house in shape. We must sell 4 to 5 of them Broadforks each month down here at the store. All sizes. Such a great tool!!! Enjoy those Tomatoes!!

  2. Dear Tom, I so love reading your comments and articles ! I am exposed to so many new things and great info. A broad fork – who knew ? Always make me wish I lived on Vashon too instead of just being an occasional visitor 🙂 Sue Flor

    • Sue I glad to connect with you here, especially knowing your amazing Leo and Caedmon. Drop by the next time you’re visiting and I’ll give you a demo and a chance to broadfork 10 to 20 rows, or glass of ice tea, your choice. 🙂

  3. Hey Tom, we just purchased a broadfork this winter and are going to try it out soon. Of all the videos we’ve seen of how to use them, yours is definitely the best! :O)

  4. Just went to Meadow Creature’s web site and bought one! You should be getting a cut!! Can’t wait to try it out:)

    • That’s so cool Karen. Just glad to see such a good product being appreciated and purchased. Bob and Margot (the owners/inventors) are great people.

  5. Tom, Somehow I missed seeing your greenhouse! Oh gosh, it is wonderful. And of course the broad fork. I’ve been intrigued by them since I first saw a photo in some ancient book by/about Eliot Coleman, but haven’t had occasion to try or buy one. I am about to move from my garden with nearly 40 years of soil-building efforts to a bare, blank stretch of plain ol’ dirt, and am scratching my head about my possible ‘need’ for a broad fork. Seems like overkill on my small future plantation, but I am happy to have seen one in action now. I never really got that you don’t lift the soil, as in, turn it over, as you do with a spade or spading fork. You just lift and loosen. Then, presumably, you go back with your trusty fork or spade, add organic matter and fluff a bit before planting? Cool.

    • Hey KathyG, I feel your loss of 40 years of soil-building. That’s a tough one. As for the broadfork, I do go and break up the dry soil clumps and add amendments. When the soil and tilth are good and I don’t have to do this latter step. I just hop on the broadfork and sink it down and leverage the tines to the surface. I think the microbes and worms love the oxygen and renewed moisture at a deeper level. Good luck on your new gardening plot; keep me posted.

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