Your Summer vacation is coming up quickly and you're looking forward to a week or two of sunshine and relaxation. With luck you'll come home fresh and healthy and relaxed. But your garden may not fare as well while you're gone. Here are a few ideas to keep things alive and well while you're off having fun.
1. MUCH ADO ABOUT MULCH. Adding a 2 to 3" layer of mulch to your flower beds will help do two useful things... It can help keep thirsty weeds at bay and even more importantly, it keeps the soil beneath hydrated and cool. So add a thick layer of any organic mulch to your flower and vegetable beds while you're gone and you'll have a better chance of coming home to a happy garden. Some great mulching materials are:
2. MAKE YOUR OWN SPRINKLER SYSTEM. Not all of us are lucky enough to have inground sprinklers we can program to take care of things when mother nature doesn't. But with a rain barrel and a sprinkler hose (both readily available at any garden centre) you can rig up a system that will keep your thirsty gardens satisfied. Just attach a sprinkler hose (a regular garden hose covered with tiny holes that release water at a controlled rate) to a nice, full rain barrel and the water pressure from the rain barrel will keep forcing a stream of water through the hose. Run the hose along your garden beds and off you go!
3. KEEP CONTAINER GARDENS ALIVE USING BOTTLES. Normally, we encourage the use of a refillable water bottle, but for this purpose, a plastic water bottle can be a life-saver. Just use kitchen scissors to cut the bottom off a bottle and poke 3 or 4 holes into the lid. Tap the head of a nail with a hammer to drive the nail through the cap. Bury the bottle, neck down, into your container and pour water into the bottle. While you're gone, the rain (hopefully) will continue to refill the water bottle and the holes in the lid will regulate the flow of the water into your garden. You can use 2L soda bottles if you've got a larger garden, or the smaller water bottles work when you place a few around.
4. MOVE CONTAINERS INTO A SHADED AREA. Keeping containers out of the sun will help shorten the time it takes for water to evaporate from your containers, but you must make sure that you're not sheltering them from the rain as well as the sun! Even full-sun container plants will survive a week or so with less sunshine than they'd like, but no plants can make it without water for that long.