When I bought this place (a tiny motel) the property was essentially all
flat lawn except for several large maple trees, what I think may be a
ash of some sort, and two tiny burning bushes (euonymus, I believe is
the correct name) planted on opposite sides of the flagpole. My late
husband built me a collection of raised bed/boxes so I could grow
flowers and herbs and generally make the place more attractive. Over
time we added many more of these boxes - just 1 x 6 boards cut to size
and nailed together, put down over newspaper to suppress grass and
weeds, filled with topsoil and bulbs or plants.
Too much enthusiasm, not enough planning or real understanding - what
can I say - it was the first time I was able to plant on my own property
rather than in containers on a rental - I was excited!
In time I recognized that the ground under these boxes needed to be dug
up and de-rocked - I live in the Catskills, and if I were to excavate
the entire property and remove all the rocks for a foot down the entire
property would drop 8 inches. <sigh> So over the course of two springs I
dug up each box, set the bulbs aside in a bucket in the shade, excavated
to about 6 to 8 inches under each box, amended what soil was left, added
more, re-bedded the bulbs and moved on to the next. Exhausting, but the
bulb boxes were much happier.
Then there were the boxes where I planted an unruly jumble of herbs. The
mints took over two of these, and weeds got out of control in others.
The remaining boxes are a chaotic mix of annuals which often have
reseeded at random, perennials whose labels have vanished and more
weeds. The original tiny shrubs are now, 9 years later, gigantic and
desperately in need of pruning.
Lest you think I was negligent as well as impetuous and under-informed,
allow me to explain. The problem is that after the initial planting and
that round of refurbishing I found myself with zero time to take care of
these raised beds, as my husband's health took a catastrophic nosedive.
The past 3 years were spent shuttling him back and forth to doctors and
hospital visits, or caring for him at home. He became my second full
time job - the other being running the motel solo.
Well, this last September he finally succumbed to his illness, and I
spent all Fall and Winter learning to cope with grief, confusion and a
whole new lifestyle. When we got an unexpected early heat wave in March
I took advantage of it to completely reinvent my veggie garden from all
containers to properly built raised beds of landscape ties, of which I
had a fair few already and bought a couple dozen more. There is more to
be done there, but the weather backtracked to normal spring weather,
then it was suddenly planting time so I settled for having about 1/3 of
my eventual planned garden this year and I'll add to it as I have time
Once everything was settled there, so all I need to do is water, feed,
weed and harvest, I turned my attention to the disastrous mess in the
What I need to do is completely redo the whole thing - building new,
better raised beds, with sufficient space between them to run the mower,
or perhaps I'll lay down garden cloth and a thick layer of the locally
available free woodchips and eliminate the mowing problem in that area.
But the logistics are mind boggling. I have spring flowering bulbs,
summer flowering bulbs, mints, herbs, sedums, phlox, drumstick alliums,
gladioli, irises, lilies of various sorts... YIKES!
Should I try to do this all in the fall after most of the stuff has gone
dormant, or early spring before they have come back to life? Split the
difference by digging and storing the bulbs/corms in the fall and
transplanting the others in the spring. I'm boggled and could use some
practical advice on the best way to attack this monumental task. I'll be
working solo, as my income is too limited to hire help - it will take
all I have just to buy the necessary landscape timbers to build the new
This time I am planning out a better layout, so I will be able to better
care for the plants, but what can you suggest as a rational course of
action (I mean aside from the obvious one - sell the motel and move into
an insane asylum)?
Technical data for what it may add to the planning; my area is zone 5b,
in a sheltered valley, not in a flood zone - though close to it. The
property is bounded on the east and south sides by roads, backed up to a
wooded lot in back on the north side. The final side has a fringe of
extremely tall pines on the west side, overlooking the biggest open area
on the property, which sadly is unusable as it contains the septic field
and is shaded by the motel in the morning and the pines by mid
afternoon. So moving the raised beds is not an option - they must simply
be replaced and improved.
OK - suggestions?
Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance but the counterfeit of it.
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