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Pitchforks work great for moving hay or threatening monsters, but they have limited use in turning up and aerating soil — the design just doesn’t give you a lot of leverage. If your soil’s too packed, plants have a harder time growing, and if you rely on a tiller, it can mix your built-up compost and topsoil with the lower soil too much. If you want a low-tech solution, look into a broadfork or U-bar.

The wide head of a broadfork can turn up a lot of ground in one go. And the double handle allows you to use both hands and your weight to pull up on the tines — you can step down on the space between the handles to push the fork into even the most compacted soil, gently loosening it up for growing. Also, you’ll stand out among the torches and pitchforks at the next unruly mob gathering.

Prices on the tool range between $130 to $230, and it can be difficult to find. But the design of the broadfork is so simple, some people make their own.

Orcas Broadfork [Smith and Speed]
Broadfork [Lehmans]
Broadfork [Johnny Seeds]


8 Responses to Pitch That Fork, And Get A Broadfork

  1. Fred says:

    I want that hat!

  2. Joe says:

    Woot, now I have next weekend’s welding project!

    The tool, that is, not the hat.

  3. Dan says:

    The man behind the hat is Leonard Lee (of Lee Valley Tools) himself!

  4. Dan says:

    Lee Valley link (where it’s called a U-Bar Digger):


  5. Bill says:

    Broadforks are a low-impact way of loosening the soil- they leave more of the beneficial underground fungal items intact, meaning less need for fertilizer.

  6. Kamon says:

    Great tools. Dig up root crops fast and effortlessly. Build ’em yourself I say. alot less costly. I made two for the price of Johnnys version.

  7. Darcy McCarthy says:

    I would like to find plans for building a broadfork. I am volunteering at the community garden and it would be great if we had a few of these for people to use. If anybody has a plan or can tell me how to make one I would be very grateful!! Thank you.

  8. maggie says:

    REad Eliot Colemans books “Four-Season Harvest” and “The New Organic Grower” published by”Chelsea Green publishing” to learn about broadforks.

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