Growing It Alone

Today I posted this picture on Facebook:


Calendula officinalis

This is the one Calendula in two beds that has bloomed. None of the others have even budded, yet! And as you can see, there’s plenty of room between this one and its neighbor, although I noticed some late seedlings popping up this morning. Most of the beds that have “flower” herbs in them are the same way. The lack of sun and buckets of rain this year has discouraged germination & prevented what’s supposed to flower from actually flowering. I’ll be thrilled if I get even one Poppy flower and you’ll see me happy dancing if the Carnations actually bloom. My sole rosebush is also a victim of the gloom – it doesn’t have a single bud. I lost two more Lavender bushes to root rot from all the rain.

OTOH, I have Lemon Balm for days and weeks … it likes the unusually cool weather! (I’m all set for next year’s tax season’s stress.)

The first problem: even if all couple-dozen Calendulas bloom, once the petals are dried, they won’t even weigh a full ounce. One Poppy capsule will yield a few drops of latex.  My remaining Lavender plants yield about two ounces of flowers. That’s not enough to do a whole lot with. I grow these for the enjoyment of playing in the dirt with them. The flower/herbs I use are purchased online. My husband caters to my Carnation addiction with visits to the florist, who is very happy that mine haven’t yet bloomed.

Second problem: I had grandiose ideas when we built the garden several years ago. It’s 42 feet in diameter with 24 raised beds, plus an additional 8-ft diameter bed over in the shade. I was going to grow, dry & sell herbs! I failed to take into consideration that as I aged, circumstances may change and/or maintenance of all those beds might become problematic. Or how much time it actually takes for one person to properly maintain a garden that size.

We also used “eco-friendly” treated lumber for the bed walls which, while it may not have all the toxic chemicals in it, definitely doesn’t last as long as the other. The wood is rotting all over the place. I’ve been thinking about downsizing for a couple of years but it’s to the point I’m going to have to think hard about that. Otherwise, Ma Nature will rebuild for me in the form of the walls falling away & generally making a mess. I’m a Virgo. I don’t like messes.

So, I have to decide how many beds of what size is reasonable this time around and how I’m going to do it. It won’t be with wood – I don’t want to rebuild yet again in a few years. Stone would look cool but is expensive and time consuming. I’m leaning toward the new “recycled plastic lumber”. Has anyone else used this stuff? I’d love opinions.

Once the construction decision has been made, I get to decide who stays & who leaves (sniff), then dismantle, rebuild & replant each bed individually so I can get the plants back “home” as soon as possible.  My winter is going to be busy – if it doesn’t continue to drip from the skies, or flake a lot.