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David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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I have never used a broadfork before and was interested in feedback on the different styles from people who may have used them.

I primarily plan to use them to break sod and create new beds. The 2 I have particularly keyed in on -

http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Gardeners-Adjustable-Eco-Friendly-Ergonomically/dp/B00V9GZLDA/ref=sr_1_1?s=lawn-garden&ie=UTF8&qid=1456934658&sr=1-1&keywords=broad+fork

https://meadowcreature.com/broadforks

I'm most curious on the difference in the blades vs the tines. I'm also open to suggestions beyond these if anyone knows of something better.

Just in case in makes a difference my subsoil is heavy clay that can contain rocks.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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My soil is heavy clay, but I have removed the rocks. I think broadforks may be best in improved soil. I use mine to aerate my buried wood beds. The wood is far enough down the tines don't dislodge it. I have the tine kind, and I like it very much, but it is by no means a tool to use on unimproved heavy clay, in my opinion.

 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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The second one is the only one I would use to break sod.

The tines can bend to the side if you hit a rock, but can be straightened and life goes on. The others bend back and then are not usable.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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I got a Meadowcreature (14 inch times - the mid size) last year for my birthday. Love it! It says it's not for removing large rocks but that's what we had to do and it performed well and came out undamaged. Since the boulders are gone, we'll only use it to aerate (which we've done once now). Garden can now handle large amounts of rain fall. I'm small and of average strength and this "work" to me was fun. My husband and I call it "The Machine" and argue over whose turn it is to use it. Recently used it in an area of the field that's never been worked, did great. Thinking of planting buckwheat there.
 
Kelly Smith
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Location: In a rain shadow - Fremont County, Southern CO
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we have a meadow creature broadfork that we use to break up our HEAVY clay soil.
the meadow creature even says it can be used to remove small rocks. and imo would be pretty hard for most people to break. weve used it to pry up small parts of concrete to give you an idea of its durability.


we looked all over and the meadow creature is the best we could find. if you can find someone that also wants one, shipping for 2 is a much better deal (not much more than shipping 1)
 
r ranson
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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Neat tool... but I'm still confused. What are these for? What situations are they useful in? How is this better than a regular garden fork?
 
R Scott
Posts: 3358
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Longer tines, wider coverage. Not for digging but levering up and aerating the soil. You can do it with a good digging fork, but this is many times faster
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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The Meadow Creature (formerly known as Vashon Broadfork), built here in Puget Sound is the only one that will last a lifetime. It is sturdily built for long lasting performance. I have seen some others that look very flimsy by comparison.
 
Joel Nisly
Posts: 10
Location: Zone 9b
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I use my Meadow Creature 14" broadfork for digging as well as for loosening the soil. Last summer I was digging mini-swales in the middle of our dry Mediterranean summer, and while I did have to wet the surface of the soil to break through the crust, the leverage of the broadfork broke loose large pieces of soil at a time. For digging, I loosen the soil with a single pass of the broadfork, working my way backwards, then come back through and take out the loose dirt with a shovel. The big advantage of a broadfork over a digging fork is its size and leverage. I echo what was said above about the Meadow Creature broadfork--I have found it to be well worth the investment.
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Broadfork in action
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Finished sunken footpath/mini-swale, cleaned out and leveled with a shovel.
 
Rue Barbie
Posts: 70
Location: Coastal Southern California
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I would LOVE to have an official broadfork but can't justify the expense for my 'little' yard garden. I have relatively good, non-compacted silty-loam soil and am able to use a standard pitch fork with 5, 12 inch tines for a similar effect. I have no rocks in the soil, and can do an entire bed in very little time. I just push it in, then pull back just enough to slightly lift and 'fluff' the soil. I never force it and have yet to bend a tine. When the soil is slightly damp, it works like a charm - not hard work at all. I don't turn the soil, I just want to aerate it.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5955
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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I have one from Johnny's that I've always loved, although as others have said, it's only useful for aerating after the soil is prepared that first time, not for breaking new ground.
Now, after reading this thread, I want a Meadow Creature for our new garden space...it has virtually no rocks and deep black creek bottom, ready to loosen and plant

One of the big reasons a broadfork is better than using a potato fork, is ergonomics....it is much kinder on your body than the twist and bend that happens with a one handled tool.
 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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One of the big reasons a broadfork is better than using a potato fork, is ergonomics....it is much kinder on your body than the twist and bend that happens with a one handled tool.

Yep. A well designed (and built) broad fork allows you to stand on it, using your own weight to do the first half of the work. Then, the long, sturdy handles give you tremendous leverage to do the second half of the work.

A typical garden fork won't last long using it for the rigors of breaking tough soil.
 
Rue Barbie
Posts: 70
Location: Coastal Southern California
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"Twist and bend"? Not with my long-handled pitch-fork. It's extremely easy. But as mentioned, my soil is good and over the years I've yet to damage my fork. If I had acres of compacted or rocky soil to do, I'd definitely get a broadfork. But for what I do, it would be over-kill.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 179
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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The only thing better than a Meadow Creature broadfork for clearing a garden area without using motorized equipment is half a dozen hogs. Buy this tool and put it right to work. You will never regret it. Forget Amazon. Buy a high-quality tool produced by a family-owned business.
 
Marsha Richardson
Posts: 41
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Our 14 inch Meadow Creature broad fork has been a marvelous investment in our permaculture homestead. We have always called it the dragon claws. We break up soil for digging swales. One pass with the broad fork and it can be shoveled out in a jiffy. When planting trees and shrubs it is very easy to fork up an area and proceed with planting. The soil can be shoveled up with ease. Our soil is cementlike hard clay with gravel and a shovel just dinks around on the surface. The broad fork may resist a bit but will eventually go in the full 14 inches. It works great for deep aeration and opening the soil just a bit around all our plantings to allow compost teas, mychoryzal drenches and just water to go down into the soil. Without it, they may soak into the mulch but very little gets down into the soil. Since we began using it, the quality and life in the soil has improved dramatically. It is one of the tools I would recommend for everyone.
 
David Castillo
Posts: 32
Location: IL/WI Border
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Thank you all for the replies. Meadow creature it is. If only I knew someone else local that wanted one as well....

 
John Polk
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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If only I knew someone else local that wanted one as well....

Yeah. I think there is a decent break on the shipping when you order two.
They need to use over sized boxes, and 2 will fit into the boxes...

 
Dougan Nash
Posts: 67
Location: Eastern Shore, Maryland
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Just make sure you use the right tool for the right job. I made the mistake of trying to loosen clay soil with my brand new pitchfork, almost snapped the thing.
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5955
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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got my 14" Meadow Creature about an hour ago....too hot and tired to give it much of a work out but the little I did worked great. This garden space is very compacted and has very few rocks. I had to rock it back and forth using one foot to push into the ground and at a certain point stand on it with both feet to get it in the ground fully, then some serious leverage to cut through the soil. I tried it a bit on some already forked soil and it's almost too easy there
Now to start early in the morning and prepare some space for our hot weather crops!
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Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
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Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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Judith,

So glad you got a Meadowcreature. I hope you'll enjoy yours as much as I have mine. My technique is to start on the far end of my garden so I'm working backwards not walking on the newly aerated soil. Place tines where I want them, position handles slightly forward, step on crossbar with both feet, rock handles back and forth until my body weight pushes the crossbar to touch the soil, step off and push handles downward to lift soil up. You can fully lift to turn the soil or lift partially to open and aerate the soil.
When I first used it on really compacted soil with lots of rocks i would alternate the tine placement as i went so i was kind of hitting the clods of the last raise a second time, cutting them in half. Many times i had to keep moving it about to find the edge of some of the big rocks. It raised up some really big rocks and never bent or twisted.
Have fun tomorrow! Report to us how it went.
 
Xisca Nicolas
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To honnnor the new ergonomics forum, I add that I miss this 2 handles tool I had before.
I cannot find any around, and plan to have one made for me.
If I can find the best strong material...

It is GOOD FOR YOUR BACK!
It works great for the soil without turning it, but really, it is marvelous to work without bending so much.
It is possible to push back the 2 handles and bend your knees instead of your back.
Also, the effort is the same on both sides of the body.
Also, as mentionned, you can better use your body weight.
And working with balance is a fun game.

This tool is playing like a kid while working as a grown-up.
 
Matt Stern
Posts: 44
Location: Williams, OR
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+1 for the Meadow Creature. But for hard, unbroken soil, I'll take the Magna Grecia Hoe without hesitation.
 
Larisa Walk
Posts: 158
Location: South of Winona, Minnesota
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The broadfork seems to be an ergonomic choice - unless you happen to do what I did to myself last month. Lifting a 16# tool with my arms held out in front/to the sides caused my bicep's tendon to "pop" from its groove. By the end of the day I couldn't lift my arm even an inch - extreme pain and I thought I had torn my shoulder up - as responsive as dead meat. After 4 days of arnica and ice I could start to move it tenderly and now seems mostly normal. My M.D. boss told me what I had done and said that there is a way to pop the tendon back in place. Apparently I had managed to do that in all the tossing and turning I did while trying to sleep that first night. This type of injury can occur from sports, but becomes more of a problem as we age as the groove becomes worn. I've switched back to my long-handled fork - a Spear and Jackson. At 1/3 of the weight it's much easier on the body. I have to take twice as many bites to cover the same ground as the broadfork but I can move more than twice as fast so it's a wash time-wise. If you want, you can use both feet to punch it into the ground, or switch feet as desired. Once it's in at full depth, you rock it back just like broadforking. I pull it back towards myself, then turn 90 degrees and push the handle down with both hands. Much easier on the body and I was able to resume work even as my shoulder injury was healing. I've given up on the broadfork completely and have since replaced the "D" handle on our Bulldog garden fork with a long handle (neither my husband or I liked the tool as it was, but now it has become our "new" favorite).
 
Judith Browning
Posts: 5955
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
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Matt Stern wrote:+1 for the Meadow Creature. But for hard, unbroken soil, I'll take the Magna Grecia Hoe without hesitation.


I can see where that tool might be great in some cases, mainly really rocky soil and working up small areas. I think in the video though, the broadfork that was used to compare, was being misused a little.....barefoot? and the soil needs some moisture for either tool to work well...the dirt looked really dry and dusty.
I can't get anything into new ground here unless there is a little moisture. I've always heard that working soil too dry is just as bad as working it too wet for future tilth....
 
Karen Donnachaidh
pollinator
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I still consider my Meadow Creature Broadfork the best birthday present ever. I used it yesterday on our largest garden area. It just gets easier and easier.

I used to have to wear heavy socks and boots, step on the crossbar with both feet, rock the handles back and forth many times to sink the 14" tines and really push hard on the handles to lift the soil. Yesterday, I wore flip-flops, pushed the tines in with one foot as opposed to stepping on the crossbar and the handles were easy to push down to raise the soil. It went a lot faster this time.

There are several things that could be contributing to the ease of use. One thing could be the addition of EM-1, MycoGrow and Azomite last year. Could be, too, the covercrop of crimson clover. I think having aerated the soil twice last year opened up pockets for deeper root penetration, organic material to be incorporated into deeper levels and better water retention. There are now fewer large rocks and now when I do encounter a rock under ground I leave it there. I decided to start referring to them as " mineral reserves" so I wouldn't grumble about them being there. Whatever, thing or combination of things, has lead to more friable soil, I am grateful. I hope it still looks and feels this nice come mid August.

I only use the broadfork to aerate, never to turn the soil. We used to have gullies get cut into the soil from hard rains and soil would build up on the lowest side of the garden due to run off, now it soaks in beautifully.
 
Todd Parr
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I have the Meadow Creature broad fork also.  It's a great tool, well-built and will last a lifetime.  That said, I almost never use it.  I have very heavy clay soil, so if you use it there, it brings up giant clods of clay.  If I pile woodchips on for a couple years, the soil is much better, so then I don't see the need for it.

I am planning to use it this year on a small area to incorporate biochar, so maybe I will use it more in the future.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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Location: Virginia (zone 7)
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We have heavy red clay soil here too. I used to bring up lots of hard clay chunks, but now the soil is looking darker and more crumbly.

I've been trying to turn this garden into a ruth stout hay covered garden. Last year, I had very sparse coverage with my covercrop and had no supply of hay. The year before, I had a round bale of alfalfa. This year, I had a better covercrop and a round bale of hay and can get at least one more.

I also have a BTE garden and a dwindling supply of wood chips. My issue there is how much damage the large truck does to the yard if the ground isn't frozen solid when he delivers more chips.
 
Chris Barrows
Posts: 52
Location: Western Side Of The Great Oak Savanna
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After testing out some factory made broadforks, I wasn't able to find one that would work well for my 8-14 inch clay hard pan.

I drew up some designs for a welding friend of mine and he knocked this out in about an hour.

The tines are 14" long, spaced about 6" apart.

While heavier and slower than I would like, it works well even for my 100 pound daughter.

It doesn't turn the soil, but penatrates and aerates the hard pan, allowing water and biologics to access deeper into the soil.
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Home made not so broadfork
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Home made not so broadfork 2
 
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