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!