Digging Fork Function (DFF) is used for gardening purposes. DFF is a tool which dig soil or rocks out from under plants. There are two types of digging forks: Border and Side.
Border Digging Fingers – BDFs are usually made of metal, but plastic ones have been seen too. They are often shaped like a spoon with a handle at one end and a flat blade at the other.
These dig into the ground using their sharpened edges.
Side Digging Fingers – SDFs are usually made of wood, but plastic ones have been seen too. They are usually shaped like a shovel with a handle at one end and a rounded blade at the other.
These dig into the earth using their blunt edges.
The main difference between these two types of digging fingers is the shape of the cutting edge. Plastic BDFs tend to cut deeper than wooden SDFs do, while plastic SDFs tend to cut less deeply than wooden BDFs do.
The reason why?
Because they are harder to sharpen and thus break easier when used for digging roots or small stones out from beneath plants.
DFFs have a long handle for leverage. Usually they are made of wood, but some are made of aluminum or fiberglass.
The top end of the handle is usually formed into a crossbar to give you something to hold on to. The bottom end is usually sharpened for use as a prying bar. The fork itself consists of two or four sharp tines (or prongs).
It can be used to loosen and aerate soil, pull stubborn weeds out by hand (roots and all), or break up the soil to make planting a lot easier. It is also very useful for harvesting potatoes, which you can’t easily do with a spade.
When you are finished using your DFF, just tap it on the ground to remove most of the dirt from its tines. Then let it air-dry before putting it away.
How To Use A Digging Fork
So you’ve been given a new DFF.
It is a long-handled tool with a crossbar on top and four sharp tines at the bottom for digging into the soil – how do you use such a thing?
1. Decide what kind of soil you are (or aren’t) going to be digging in.
Is the ground rocky or clay based?
You may need to adjust your digging strategy accordingly.
2. Pick a spot for your digging to begin, take note of the depth of the soil that you will need to remove and position yourself somewhere comfortable where you have enough room to swing the fork easily.
3. Grip the crossbar of the DFF with both hands like you are holding onto a horse’s reins.
This will keep the tool steady and prevent it from jumping around too much as you dig.
4. Now position the tines of the fork into the ground and give it a sharp pull.
Use your weight to help you and don’t be afraid to use some force.
5. Once the tines are buried into the soil, stand up straight and begin to walk (or even dance!
) on the crossbar as you twist your hips from side to side. This will make it a lot easier to loosen the soil up.
6. After a few twists, step down onto the crossbar and pull the tines back out of the ground.
You should now have a clump of dirt stuck to the bottom of the tines. If you find that you have more than this, then it means you are not digging in the right kind of soil (clay) and you need to adjust your technique accordingly.
7. Continue this process until you have dug down to the required depth.
More Tips For Success!
Don’t dig straight down – always dig at an angle and use the soil that you remove to hill up around the base of the plant. This will prevent water from running off too quickly and also prevent the wind from whisking away precious topsoil.
Plus it just makes your garden look nicer and neater!
If you have to remove a large amount of soil (like when building a bank or cutting a foundation) then it is best to do this over time rather than all in one day. This will allow the soil to settle and compact properly over time, otherwise it may all fall back in on you!
Other Types Of Forks
The DFF (Digging Fork) is one of three types of garden forks that you are likely to use. The other two are the RDF (Ripping Fork) and the SPF (Spading Fork).
As their names suggest, they all have different uses, but all perform basically the same task.
The Ripping Fork looks like a flattened out DFF. Instead of tines at the bottom it has two long sharp blades that are handy for ripping out broadleaf weeds like dandelions.
The edges of the blades can also be used to cut through smaller roots. It is not meant for turning over the ground and will not slice through large roots easily. You grip this tool in the same manner as the DFF, but use a different technique when digging.
The other tool that looks like a DFF, but is not used the same way is the Spading Fork. This has smaller tines and a longer handle and is used more like a shovel.
You hold it like a dagger in front of you and dig into the soil with it, (rather than pulling out like the DFF) then you can either twist it to loosen the soil or use a stabbing action to cut through deeper roots.
These three tools should be all you need to turn over new ground. As I said, there are many types of garden forks out there and you may even have some with special features.
But as long as you know how to use one properly you should have no trouble with any of them.
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Sources & references used in this article:
‘I never promised you a rose garden’: gender, leisure and home-making by M Bhatti, A Church – Leisure Studies, 2000 – Taylor & Francis
Lever action yard and garden implement by R Naccarato, B Olsen – US Patent 5,871,058, 1999 – Google Patents
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Garden cart by JA Zint – US Patent 5,088,751, 1992 – Google Patents
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Reading the Garden by K Holmes, SK Martin, K Mirmohamadi – 2007 – books.google.com
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The war garden victorious by CL Pack – 1919 – books.google.com