At this time of year, the weather is generally pleasant and the beach or mountains are probably calling your name but if you love to garden taking a vacation right now might seem like a double-edged sword. Unless you have a family member, friend or neighbor who will water your plants while you’re gone you run the risk of coming back to a garden that looks like death warmed over. All that hard work could be gone in a single week or weekend! Before you throw in the towel or cancel that getaway why not consider some of these tips you can use to keep your plants from being left high and dry:
1. Assuming you don’t have the luxury of a sprinkler system a day or two before you go away be sure to give your plants a deep soaking. Watering deeply, but less frequently is the best way to water your plants even if you’re not going on vacation.
2. If you have a smaller garden or have specific plants that you want to provide some TLC too while you are away, you can think about recycling plastic soda and water bottles. You can fill these larger bottles with water and then use an ice pick to pokes holes in the bottle cap. Put the bottle cap back on the water-filled bottle and then insert the bottle cap side down in the soil next to your plant. You’ll want to make sure the bottle top is about 4 to 5 inches below the ground level and about 5 to 6 inches from the plant itself. This is a great tool for watering plants like tomatoes and peppers.
3. Hanging baskets and containers always dry out faster when the weather is hot. Even the most refreshing breeze can also dry them out so if you are going to be away for just a long weekend water them thoroughly and then put them close together in a shady area such as under a tree or a porch. The fact that they are close to one another will lessen the impact of drying winds and can also help them retain moisture.
4. Drip irrigation systems are available that will water your plants for you if you connect it to a water source such as a rain barrel or exterior hose bib. However, you can also create a simpler system of your own. Get a large bucket or container that is filled to the rim with water and place it on a sturdy table or chair. Make sure that the bucket of water is at a height that is taller than your containers. Then take some string such as a shoelace and place one end in the bucket of water and the other end securely in the container soil. A process known as capillary action will enable the water to soak into the string and make its way down to the container.
This is also a good time to think ahead until next year. Converting your pots to self-watering containers is another excellent way to keep your plants watered while you are away. There are kits available that will enable you to convert an existing container to a self-watering or you can purchase new pots that are already self-watering containers. If you have other tips on vacation watering please share them with your fellow gardeners on our Facebook page.