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My holidays are coming up, and I not only have to think about pet care while I’m away I also have to think about garden care. Like all gardeners, I put great effort and love into my gardens; I’m not going to let them fend for themselves whilst I’m on holiday.
Over the years I have come up with a set of strategies for making sure my gardens do not suffer whilst I’m off having a great time. I’m not saying these are the only ways to ensure good garden care; just that this is what I do and what works for me. I know it works because my gardens always look good when I come home.
Spring Garden Care
Long before my holidays begin I start preparing the garden for short-term self-sufficiency.
I opt for drought-resistant plants wherever possible. For example, I choose sedums for window boxes instead of water thirsty annuals.
The soil in my gardens is well drained, but it also retains moisture. It has this balance between drainage and water retention because I add organic matter in the spring. I use homemade compost as well as aged cow and horse manures.
Mulch also helps the soil stay moist. I’m careful to keep the mulch an inch or two away from the stems of plants to prevent rot. I use woodchips as mulch because I have a ready supply of them from local arbourists. Be sure to let the woodchips age at least a year before you put them on the garden because fresh chips will take nutrients out of the soil as they age.
I set up my gardens with sprinklers and soaker hoses with a timer. I prefer sprinklers and soaker hoses to an underground irrigation system because I change my beds from year to year and need the flexibility.
A few years ago I installed a rain barrel to catch water. I can attach a soaker hose to it when I go away and run it through the nearby garden. The water comes out very slowly, which is exactly what I want.
Garden Care Just Before Leaving
Just before I leave on holiday I set up wicking systems for potted plants that have high water needs. I poke a length of candlewick (a shoelace will do in a pinch) into each container and run the wick into a water reservoir. It’s simple and it works.
As much as possible I group potted plants in the shade. They will dry out more slowly because they are not exposed to the sun and because they are close together. I move houseplants off sunny windowsills to indirect light. If you remove flowers and flower buds – which I don’t like to do – your plants will need less water.
I go through the vegetable patch and, as much as possible, I rid it of pests. I never use chemical pesticides, so I pick tomato hornworms and put out saucers of beer to trap slugs.
I mow the lawn higher than usual. The longer grass protects the core of the lawn from the strong sun. Of course, if you have an irrigation system you don’t have to worry about the lawn drying out.
I thoroughly weed and water my gardens the day I leave, or the day before if I’m leaving early in the morning.
Garden Care During Holidays
My gardening friends and I have an informal holiday garden care exchange. I make a list of what needs to be done and post in on the door of the shed. Every three or four days, depending on the weather, someone comes over to check on the garden and do the routine chores. Mostly they water, but they will mow the lawn if it needs it.
You can also hire someone to do garden care while you are away. Check with local garden centres for suggestions.
Preparation Is Key to Holiday Garden Care
Because I prepare well in the spring and take special measures just before I leave, my gardens don’t need much care while I’m away. That way I can enjoy my holidays without worrying about my beloved plants and come home to thriving gardens.
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Pictures Credits: Featured Image: Madlyinlovewithlife Image 1: Eric Hunt Image 2: Scot Hacker Image 3: Steph L. Image 4: Jane Challinor Image 5: Sean Hobson Image 6: Sunchild57 Photography Image 7: Ol'Pete