Broadforks save backs!

I started growing veges while recovering from a back injury. I was limited to the amount of work I could handle with a spade, fork, rake because I’d be laid up for days with pain. Only when Eliot Colemans classic book “The New Organic Grower” was recommended to me, I found a tool that let me think of growing more than 10 square meters. It only took fifteen minutes with a Broadfork in my hands to start dreaming of growing better veges full-time!

Sorry, did you say –

“What on earth is a Broadfork??”

The broadfork is an old dutch tool for building better crops from the soil up! It makes the job of soil preparation short and safe! Its a tool that you’ll write into your will for the next generation! Lets have a closer look at one:

My original Broadfork, 10 years old and going strong!

–  So, what you get with these tools is five (or seven) super strong tines that can penetrate eleven inches!

–  Tines mounted on a footbar designed to use body-weight and gravity to get the fork all-the-way-in! And uses leverage to do all the hard work!

–  Sturdy uprights and a cross-bar handle that suits the natural arc of the tool in your hand to keep you working longer.

– The tines are staggered lengths so that if they hit clay, they wont bring up too much, or get ‘bogged’ – the stagger really helps fracture the soil as you make each pull.

– It’s a tool that can aerate, and break up compacted layers of soil, while working a surprisingly large volume of soil at each ‘bite’. It will heal over-tilled soils in time.

But you already have a traditional ‘garden-fork’ -what’s so bad with it?

–  It wont work as much dirt as deeply, and only works a third the width.

–  It relies on your shoulders, hands and back to be in dangerous positions when being  used for long periods. Every cubic centimeter of soil must be lifted by the poor user!

–  Cheap steel tines will bend if you catch any kind of root, or stone.

–  Well over half the weight of a broadfork (5-tine) anyway! What good is that?

Believe me! It will save you sweat!

I got mine from Gundaroo Tiller, a small-farm tools outfit near Canberra. And through talking to Joyce Wilkie, the finer benefits started to appear, and my crops were responding great too! She pointed out that a Broadforks action wont invert, or turn-over soil as the “double-digging” methods that we were sold. Which means all our expensive and thoughtful fertilizing wont get buried deeply, where young roots cant get at it, where it would be highly diluted anyway. And when she pointed out that through aeration, Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide are major building blocks of every plant (O, C, H, Si have been said to make up nearly 98% of the physical plant structure!), And water infiltration is a major consideration to annual vege crops, I had a real hard time to do anything but listen to experience! And still the broadfork was up to the task!

Serious thanks to Mike and Joyce for their friendships, minds and hearts – and teaching me to use mine!

A year or two later, with permission, I started building my first broadforks after the Gundaroo Tiller pattern, to help bring this tool to South Australia. I now build tools for all kinds of folk, elderly, school-kids, community gardens, professional market gardeners, weekend warriors, and all use it just fine. I really get a kick out of sending these tools off, saving people work (and pain) so they can enjoy the fruits of their labours all the more!

Please Contact me if you want more information about Broadforks as a tool. I manufacture 2 variations:

5 tine broadfork, 45cm working width 

   – excels in tighter soils, or raised beds with defined edges

7 tine broadfork, 65cm working width

   – BULK TILLAGE! yes, it’s the big one! for open fields and intensive bed production!

BUY ONE HERE! (if you need one! want one!)

21 thoughts on “Broadforks save backs!

    • Hi Donna,
      I hadn’t logged in a while now, because I didn’t have much to sell!
      Broadforks will be back on in (**approx**) a fortnight.
      I’ll update the main blog to say so!
      Thanks for you interest!

  1. I am very embarrassed to say that the beautiful ugly fork I received for Xmas from my children I have managed to break due to blatant abuse. I had a bit of a dig around a small tree I wanted removed and being impatient used the fork as a crowbar and broke one of the short tynes. This is not a warranty claim! C I take full responsibility but would like a replacement. Please let me know the cost. Many thanks and I promise to only use it for forking in future! Rob Last

  2. I’ve had one of your broadforks for about 5 years now- it’s like having a whole mob of trained wombats digging for you! I can turn a 2mx6m bed in about 15 minutes, deeper than I could with a rotary hoe. Go over it again, at a perpendicular angle, and it’s broken up even better. Then a bit of hoeing and a rake, and I’m ready for spring.

    I also use it before rotary hoeing, as it breaks up the ground deeper than the RH goes, and greatly speeds up the process. Also great for getting manures and other supplements down further into the root zone that otherwise possible, other than by double digging.

    I love mine.

    • Wow, it’s been too long! But I’m here now! But no, the curved tines make for hard work in any soil with the occasional rock. if You drive a grelinette into dirt with stone, and hit one, the handles will pull violently forward because of the tine offset. It’s one of the main design solution points of the Gundaroo Tiller design!

  3. I have a 7 tined broadfork with a broken long tyne. I have succeeded in removing the broken stub and require a replacement tyne and countersunk allen head screw. Could you please send me one?

    many thanks

  4. My garden used to be full of beds and butts that had not been turned over for years. And full of slugs too! So I used less and less straw, and some beds finally get compacted… Buying a broadfork seemed exciting to me. I thought it would probably allow me to work faster than the fork and without turning the layers of the soil (which I knew is not recommended). A generous investment but looked like the thing would last forever! Currently, I’m using the broadfork on all my butts having tinkered its 7 teeth 15 cm apart and I’m happy. I was wrong at one point only – the darn thing is prone to breaking apart, so watch it!

    It is a very wise investment, indeed, if you are ready to do some modification. In my case making a 7-tooth tool was based on a why-not decision, but it’s proved useful even if heavy (because it was necessary to make the tine section full-steel so it would be able to withstand all the pressure).

  5. Hi there. I am interested in buying one of your 65cm broadforks. Do you have them available and how much would it cost to get it shipped to Melbourne. Also could you please tell me the weight of it. Thanks.

  6. Hi, Are you still selling the Broadforks? A market gardener friend recommended your Broadfork that she bought years ago. Thanks kindly.

  7. Hi Wade – I’ve just found your website from Gundaroo Tiller. Do you still have the broadforks? I work as an arborist and think it looks like a great tool to use on compacted soils. Would this be so? Urban soils are often very compacted and I need something to make quick work of aerating soil to begin amendments.

    What do you think – is the broad fork the right thing? IT sounds like it is easier than a garden fork!

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