What is that thing?

On Sunday (1-10), I posted three pictures of my family working on a “special kind of something” on Facebook. I had people guessing at what the heck “that thing” could be. Well here is the answer…it is a BROAD FORK.

So what is a broad fork?

A broad fork is a tool used to help aerate the soil and loosen it from compaction, all without turning the layers (like a tiller would do.)

So why not just use a tiller?

A tiller turning the layers is undesirable, because some of your best soil fertility is in the “top soil.” The tiller also pulverizes (breaks down into small pieces) the soil which actually makes the soil easier to compact over time. If you think of very tiny particles of dirt, they can fit together easier than larger dirt clods, and become more like concrete with water overtime.

So lets see this thing!

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This is the actual part that goes into the ground (I am sure you realize this). Handles will be attached onto the square parts. The tines are curved to help with the lifting motion which aerates the soil. The tines have a large base where they attach so the tines weld will not break as easily as other designs. The whole thing will not be made of metal (handles will be wood) to keep the tool lighter.

We decided to make a broad fork after I found a basic design online. My husband then engineered up the basic design, which made it lighter, less prone to break and overall easier to use. Tim purchased the steel, his friend laser cut the tines, Tim curved the tines to fit onto the circular base, his brother welded it together, and then at a family powwow the guys (Tim, his brother-Sam, and his dad-Ed) heat treated the tines. Heat treating makes the tines stronger, so they are less likely to get damaged if they were to hit rocks or something in the dirt. The last things to do are “paint it”- to help against rust, and get the handles in. The handles are actually wheelbarrow handles, since they fit my hands naturally and are comfortable it was a great replacement to steel handles (which would also be very heavy).

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The tines being fitted around the circular bar
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the steel cut
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Check the attachment
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Checking the attachment
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Finishing up first weld
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Done with the first weld…then Sam took it and welded it stronger at his job!

So just for your entertainment here are some of the heat treating pictures:

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Sam and Ed heating up the tines
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Tim getting ready to dunk the tines in the oil
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The tines just entering
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The fire that happened after dunking the tines

I know this is crazy to have all these people help to make one, so you could always just go buy a broad fork too. I just happen to be a little too cheap when resources and friends are available. Here is one that is recommended by the Market Gardener.

I can’t wait to get out there this spring and use this before planting my carrots. This will help really loosen that soil and get me some BIG OL’ CARROTS THIS YEAR!

Any questions about broad forks? Comment below!

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