One simple way to determine whether our soil has good structure follows. Squeeze a sample of reasonably moist soil +rmly in your hand. Then open your hand. If the soil falls apart easily, it does not have good structure. If it holds the shape of your hand even when you press it gently with the +ngers of your other hand, it does not have good structure. If the soil breaks apart into small clumps when you press it with your +ngers, it probably has good structure.
When surface cultivation is used, compost made without soil will be used because soil will not be removed from the bed during the soil preparation process. Whenever the lower soil becomes compacted, the bed may be double-dug again to encourage reestablishment of a well-aerated structure. Remember that structure is di)erent from texture. The texture is determined by its basic ingredients: silt, clay, and sand particles. The soil structure is the way these ingredients hold together.
With your assistance, sticky “threads” exuded by microbial life and the roots produced by the plants help to loosen a clay soil and produced by the plants help to loosen a clay soil and improve a sandy soil.1 The goal is to create a sumptuous “living sponge cake.” Bon appétit! The loosened soil of the planting bed makesweeding easier. The GROWBIOINTENSIVE raised bed. A balance between nature’snatural stratification and our loosened land-sliding soil.
Once the bed is prepared, you will truly appreciate its width. The distance between the tips of your +ngers and your nose is about 3 feet when your arm is extended out to the side. Thus a 3- to 5-foot-wide bed can be fertilized, planted, weeded, and harvested from each side fertilized, planted, weeded, and harvested from each side with relative ease, and insects can be controlled without walking on the bed.
A 3- to 5-foot width also allows a good mini-climate to develop under closely spaced plants. You may wish to use a narrower bed, 1½ to 2½ feet wide, for plants supported by stakes, such as tomatoes, pole beans, and pole peas, for easier harvesting.