Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Making Some New Garden Beds Using a Tractor, a Box Blade, and a Shovel

Hi everyone! I have some exciting news to share about our farm and my new garden--it is coming along! Above is a picture of the first daylily bed and I can't tell you how excited I am to have it nearly done! The journey was long to get to this point though.
Mr. Fix-it and I do not yet have a tiller or plow for our tractor but we do have a box blade. Box blades work great to level out uneven areas and as they level they tear up the sod and soften the soil. I had an idea the box blade might work as a tiller and I was right! I asked Mr. Fix-it to dig me four trenches (new gardens) with his box blade. Each trench is about four feet wide by about 30-35 feet long. The above picture was the result after Mr. Fix-it finished the box blading. The sod has been torn up and mostly removed and it looks as though there are trenches here.
Now the fun part comes in and it is my favorite part of gardening (besides planting)! I hand turned all of the soil in the new beds using my shovel. Look at the difference it made! The trench closest to you has not been hand turned but the one further way has already been worked and I planted some of my favorite daylilies in this bed. The soil is now nicely raised, tillable, and workable for planting--plus almost all the roots and weeds have been removed!
Here is another view looking north toward the pond. I slightly trenched the edges of this bed to make mowing close a simple thing. The blade simply cuts all of the grass but does not go into the bed due to the trench. Can you see how the bed is now raised up a bit? The soil will settle back down but turning the soil enabled some air to reach down into the soil and made the soil plantable for me. 

After I turned this whole bed (it took me several hours), I added my amendments, planted the daylilies, then mulched with newspapers and wheat straw. Since I am trying very hard to be organic I added Greensand (I like its soil conditioning properties for heavy clay soil and it provides potash), and cottonseed meal (for nitrogen) as my soil amendments. I wish I had a ready source of composted manure as that would be even better but in my past experiences this is a good way to start a garden. Mulching with the paper and straw will, over time, add the necessary organic matter to the garden bed. My soil test told me my soil is fine, though a bit on the acid side (pH 5.3) and low in organic matter. Our field was at one time farmed so it is fertile but in my experience farmers don't use a lot of organic matter so the fact that my garden areas are low in organic matter is not surprising. It won't take me long to get them up to par. My digging told me there are some parts of this field that are  waterlogged. There are many underground streams in the area of our farm so the water is to be expected. Hence the turning of soil and Greensand. Fortunately though our land has perked for septic. Step one done towards building our house.
The next step was to dig all of my daylilies from my current home and garden. Geez, that was a job that took several hours and I was really shocked at just how long it all took. I must have dug over 40 types of daylilies-not even counting clumps. I don't know how they all fit in my garden to be honest with you. I had good intentions to keep the tags with each daylily and to be neat about my move, but as you can see daylilies just wound up piled upon daylilies. Sigh.
Once I got to the land I began downloading all of the daylilies and do you know it started to rain?? Yeah for rain in July!@ Aside from making the work a lot cooler the rain helps the daylilies to settle in sooner. I really thought all of my daylilies would fit into one of the four beds. That was not to be as you can see I had a lot of leftovers. That meant I would have to make another daylily bed--two more to be exact. Which is not a problem but these beds were intended for fruit. Oh well, we'll just move down the field a bit....

in the garden....


I guess when I started this post I thought everyone knew what a box blade was but then was recently asked what was a box blade. I thought I should post a picture of ours. Do you see the 'teeth'? These can be adjusted lower so that they will dig into the soil. The whole thing is dragged across the soil by the tractor and will scrape off some soil while dropping some soil. This tool is really good for leveling areas and also, as I have found out, for preparing new garden beds!

Tomorrow is a GREAT GARDENING EVENT not to be missed. It is the annual University of Tennessee at Jackson Summer Celebration. Don't miss it. See ya there!
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. This gizmo looks like what the farmers use when they 'no'till. Your farm is beginning to look like a garden. :)

  2. Great post! Glad you have that great tool! Nothing like having wonderful tools that you can use for more than one thing.

    Your beds look great and your day lilies already planted look happy.

    Happy gardening at your new place. At least you are able to take plants from your gardens where you are now.


  3. I've been wondering how you were creating all these flowerbeds so quickly--a tractor with this blade definitely helps for such a large project! But handturning the soil with a shovel would take me days, not hours:) By the time you finish your house, you are going to have beautiful gardens, Tina!

  4. Is Mr Fixit ever going to complete a car project with all this gardening? LOL, I think you have really distracted him but then again, I do recall this land being "HIS" idea and I know he enjoys playing with his new Big Boy Toys!

    Girl, feel free to come to my house for some good ole horse poop! I am tending to my neighbors horses this week and have plenty to share with ya! I have put two huge loads on my compost pile!

    Don't worry about using a bed that was not intended for blooms, you have plenty of room to expand!

    Happy creating :-)

  5. The right tools make all the difference, and I'm not surprised that you and Mr. Fix-It have what it takes to make the perfect garden. I'm not overly fond of tillers (they shake you silly!) so I wish we had had one of those box blades when we were first landscaping here. I'm not planning any grand-scale changes any more around here, but who knows? Our next place might require some heavy-duty equipment.

    It sounds like your soil will be perfect for blueberries with that acidity going for them. Maybe a vineyard too?

  6. What great beds. You are really going to have some awesome beds. I love the nice big size of each one. Does it seem like the plants multiply as you dig them out of your other garden? Laughed at the pile in the truck. You'll have the gardens done before the house. Happy for your rain.

  7. I know y'all have had a lot of rain where you are, but how are you keeping your new garden watered? Or do you live close enough you can pop over when you think it is needed?

    1. Hi Les! I do live within 15 minutes or so of the new garden. I go there each and every day. I don't think I need to water the daylilies and have left them to their own devices. On the trees I've been watering with water collected on the land via containers and rain barrels. We have a gazebo that we installed two rain barrels and gutters on and I also use five gallon buckets as rain collectors (most of the buckets were found on the land). As a back up I have saved my milk jugs and fill them up at my house with water from the rain barrels here before I head out. It is not the best time to be planting trees and gardens but I was anxious. So far all are doing well. The perennials in the beds (not daylily beds) were planted a month or so ago and have settled in nicely. They are also perennials that are all drought tolerant. Once they get a good rain they should be fine. This rain this year sure has helped.