Whether you’re getting ready to make the most of the August bank holiday or you’re ready to jet off somewhere, the welfare of your garden is probably niggling in the back of your mind. This is the time of year when a lot of plants, fruits and vegetables start to flourish and spring to life. For example, tomatoes are at their ripest in the summer months and strawberries are coming into their own, so it’s no surprise that going away for 7-10 days could feel stressful at such a vital time for your garden. You may be lucky and have a good friend that can come over and tend to your plants whilst you’re away, but fruit and veg doesn’t tend to last off the stalk for more than 4 days and although you may have given them an extensive guide as to how to maintain your garden, they are not you and one can feel slightly anxious when leaving something so precious with someone else. Luckily, we have a few top tips to help you get the well-earned break you need without worrying about your garden.
Even if you have a dedicated friend that swears to water your plants every day, things can happen so, it can be tough to rely on someone fully. Bearing this in mind, there are a few things you can do to ensure any watering efforts are made the most of whilst you’re away.
Here are some steps to protecting soil for a few days:
- Mow your lawn
- Get rid of all the weeds that are invading
- Put lawn clippings and weeds together and mix them up, creating a mulch
- Water plants, vegetables and fruit as late to you leaving as possible
- Spread the mulch (or any compost you have) amongst the plants so that the soil underneath does not dry out.
Also, you could fill a used plastic bottle up with water, attach an irrigation spike to the opening and adjust the water flow for your planting area. Just insert the spike into the ground and let the system keep your plants watered while you’re away. What a great way to recycle plastic!
Move hanging baskets and planting tubs to a shaded area or put tarpaulin above them to protect them from drying out in the sunshine. It may also be beneficial to add any leftover mulch to the soil in these to make sure your watering efforts last longer.
Plants such as tomatoes can grow very quickly so staking them before you leave can stop them drooping when their yield becomes heavy. If you are not going away for long, picking anything that looks close to being ripe before you leave will mean the harvest can ripen in the fridge. It will take a few days for a fresh batch to come in and by that time, you’ll be home.
Crops such as lettuce and cress will need to be shaded to slow their growth down as they do not repeat yields the way tomato plants do, shading lettuce and applying the mulch you have made can avoid ‘lettuce bolting’ and spoiling, too. Bear in mind that leafy vegetables also break down quicker after growing to full size, so it may be worth cutting a few leaves off before you leave to encourage new growth.
Young beans, courgette and peas can be removed at a younger stage. When the plant hits full maturity, it will stop blooming so it is better to encourage your plant to grow regularly by harvesting regularly.
Notes For Friends
If you’ve worked hard on your garden, you can feel rather protective of it. To avoid writing a list of do’s and don’ts that resembles War & Peace, here are the things you should do to help your garden sitter without confusing them!
- Let them know the regularity that plants need watering so there is no guess work.
- Label plants just in case they do not know what it is you are growing or what you are growing is beneath the soil.
- Group pots together so your friend isn’t traipsing around trying to find certain plants.
- Leave watering cans near your water butt or outdoor tap for ease.
- Show them around before you go away (if time allows).
- Let them take harvests home, this helps your plant grow more and gives your friend an incentive.
- Don’t forget to bring them something back from holiday, they have babysat for you after all!
Going on holiday can be stressful but being prepared can help with the anxiety of leaving your garden babies without your watchful eye and care. By leaving detailed and simple instructions for anyone who helps will ensure your plants are looked after to your standards. If you are not lucky enough to have a garden sitter, or your friend cannot visit every day, making a mulch to protect soil and harvesting before you leave can make sure that your crops are protected and do not dry out.