English Country Gardener

Going on Holiday

For many of us the summer months are the time for our holidays. Its also the time when our gardens need us the most, be that watering, weeding, harvesting or dead heading. Our gardens do most of there splendor in the summer so when we leave and come home we don’t want to return to sickly or even dead plants. The killer of plants whilst we’re away is lack of water. Most plants in the ground will survive if there are some rain showers, however pot plants, shallow rooted plants, and your greenhouse plants are most at risk. Here are some simple tips to help you protect your garden whilst your away.

  1. Firstly if you can ask a friendly neighbor to water your garden, if this is feasible make it as easy as possible for them, I always leave the hosepipe or watering cans full next to the greenhouse.
  2. Move all outside pot plants into shadier areas, and places where they can still get some rain fall. You can buy automated watering systems or try the bucket and towel trick which uses capillary action to water the plants. All you need is a bucket of water and a cloth such as an old towel or large dishcloth. Fill the bucket of water and dip one end of the cloth into it and the other into the top of the container plant. On a larger scale when pots are in seed trays or plastic trays you can buy or make a mat that the pots sit on and have part of it dipped into a bucket. This slowly dip waters your containers.
  3. Its a good idea to mulch as much as possible your beds and pots as this will help to contain moisture.
  4. Cut your grass at least one to two days before you go away, don’t cut too short if its going to be really hot whilst your away.
  5. Do all your weeding and bug controls before you go away. Weeds will take water, light and nutrients from your plants and if left unchecked will go mad whilst your away.
  6. Make sure all your tools and garden furniture are all securely put away and locks on the shed.
  7. If you make your front gardens tidy then people are less likely to notice you’re away.
  8. Before going away deadhead all flowers that are going over to encourage new buds for your return and it also stops dead heads or petals falling onto the ground. If your going away for longer than two weeks, the drastic method is to remove all flower heads that have just come into bloom, not sure if I would have the heart to do this.
  9. Your kitchen garden will suffer whilst your away so pick all you can, either freeze, give away or eat! and set up a watering plan again dependent on how long your going away for. Water well before you go.
  10. Your greenhouse will be the most hit, leave all vents and doors open, if you can move all plants outside into a sheltered area ideally in a bed of moist sand, make sure that pots can’t fall over. If this is not possible then use an automated irrigation system or the bucket and wick trick. Do not sow any new seeds at least a few weeks before you go away as they will be too delicate.
  11. House plants should be moved away from sunny windowsills and hot conservatories, ideally put them into bath or sinks on an old damp towel, water them well first. Don’t put bleach down your toilet as the fumes will harm your plants. If i’m not going away for a long time I usually put the water hungry plants in large saucers and fill with water this usually keeps them happy, haven’t lost a plant yet. Check as some plants really don’t like to have their bottoms in the water.
  12. When you return home you need to water all plants in and out and return them to their original places. Cut your grass, continue harvesting and weed. If its anything like our garden for some reason whilst we are away someone feeds our garden with miracle grow! because when we return home its always massively overgrown and takes days to sort out. The disadvantages of having a lovely cottage garden filled with shrubs, perennials, annuals, climbers and trees.

Have an amazing holiday!

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