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Garden Trenching To Improve Soil
The objective of garden trenching is to loosen, pulverise, and deepen the soil, so that the roots of plants can run more freely in it, to facilitate the admission of air and water, as well as to incorporate manure substances with the soil.
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Digging a Trench
In performing the operation, traditionally the manure and other substances must first be spread on the surface. Then a trench must be dug at one end of the slip or plot of the required depth and the soil wheeled to where the work is to finish. The plot may be marked out in two equal divisions in the direction of its length, the soil taken out of the end of one division and laid on the same end of the next division, and, when the first division is finished, the last trench is filled from the same end of the next division; which is worked in the opposite direction. Then, if the object is to mix and improve the whole of the soil to a certain depth, the operator stands in the bottom of the trench, which must be of such a width as will give him room to work freely (thirty inches being about the usual width), and must break down the solid soil in narrow strips from top to bottom with a pick, the whole being then lifted with a shovel and thrown back on a slope, and not in regular layers, in order that the whole may be thoroughly intermixed.
The sub-soil at the bottom of each trench may also be loosened, and left in its place, as the work proceeds.
Another plan, sometimes termed bastard trenching, or half trenching, and which is generally preferred, is to commence by manuring and marking out the ground in a similar way, but, instead of throwing the whole of the soil from the first trench into a single heap or ridge, the top and lower spits are kept separate, and the top spit from the second trench added to that from the first; there is then one trench completely emptied, and the second half emptied, the depth being made greater or less by shovelling out the crumbs with each spit, or allowing them to remain. The next operation is to break up the sub-soil of the first trench, upon which the bottom spit of the next trench is thrown, and covered by the top soil of the third trench. By this plan the rich surface soil is kept in its natural position and the sub-soil in its proper place. This is the reverse of the practice that has so generally prevailed in which the subsoil is brought to the surface, where it frequently forms an infertile and nearly unworkable mass for many years after.