Hi All,
I'm confused about this. I always thought it was better to have no-dig gardens because you don't want to disturb the soil micro-organisms. But I've just read The Koanga Garden Guide, written by Kay Baxter (she founded koanga gardens and is into heriloom seeds, and now, growing nutrient dense food sustainably) and she's all for double digging. So, what is everyones opinion/reasoning on this??
For now, I don't know if I have time to be double digging (I have a 3yro and a 12 week old baby), but I'm still curious about this.

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Hi Sarah
Im no expert in this field, but can offer my own observations/interpretations, having visited Kay's former house & garden at Koanga recently. I think Kay goes for the double digging to improve the drainage, and to get the added compost deep down into the soil. Most of her garden tends not to be in raised beds either. Developing good drainage is more important when you dont have raised beds. The soil at Koanga is heavy clay, so very dense, hard packed and non-aerated. The double digging with added compost sorts out all these issues eventually (takes a couple of years of cropping and composting to get the clay broken down).
If you have raised beds, I wouldn't bother with deep digging. I started using raised beds a couple of years ago and hardly ever need to do much digging now. Before the raised beds I used to always dig over the garden bed a week or two before planting out to break up the clods and get the air in. This was particularly useful in spring when the soil was quite heavy and needed to dry out a bit.
Another point: Check out what Kay says on page 126 under "Carbon & Compost Crops". She writes about having done the no-dig system in raised beds for 15 years, after which the soil collapsed due to the carbon having been mined out of the soil.
Yes, I remember this comment. However, wouldn't mulching on the surface with high carbon compost fix this?
I also got the impression that she wasn't recommending double digging forever...just for the first few years till you've got good soil. Then using the U-bar. So perhaps to begin with aerating the soil is more important than having the perfect conditions for the soil micro-organisms.

Paul said:
Another point: Check out what Kay says on page 126 under "Carbon & Compost Crops". She writes about having done the no-dig system in raised beds for 15 years, after which the soil collapsed due to the carbon having been mined out of the soil.
Yes I think the solution is to carbon compost the 'no dig' garden. I just pulled out a crop of broad beans in my raised bed and gave the soil a light digging over with the fork ready for next planting. It didn't seem necessary to go any deeper as the soil is light. I t would seem that double digging is only required every few years if the soil becomes compacted and layered over time.

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