Prepping The Garden To Be AwayJan 06, 2023
Even though most of us see our gardens as a vacation in themselves, as we wrap up summer, time will become more and more likely. Here are a few things to consider when leaving the garden for the weekend, and how you can prep before you go to keep things running smoothly while you are gone.
Choose A Good Time To Go
You won't always be able to choose when you need to leave home for a few days, but there are times of the year that are better than others to leave your kitchen garden behind for a few days. If you can plan to use slower times in the garden to take a quick trip, you will be able to sneak off easier.
Some of the best months to leave a southern garden are January, February, March, August, September, November, and December. During these months the garden is either just starting or slowing down at the end of the season, making it much easier to leave.
Watch The Weather
If you are planning a few days away during one of the busier garden months, the first thing to make sure you do is watch the weather. Know what your garden will be exposed to while you are gone and make precautions for it before-hand. You may need to give extra water if no rain is on the forecast or stake your leggy vegetables extra good if you are expecting high winds. If you are going away during the cooler months, you may need to cover your delicate veggies before you leave. When covering plants for a couple of days at a time, make sure that you use only clear plastic. This will create a greenhouse for your plants and still allow sunshine in. This is very important. If you cover your plants with a dark material, they will be protected from the freeze, but without having sunshine for a few days, they won't be alive when you come back.
Feed Before You Leave
As with anything, plants love a little bit of extra TLC, so give them a good dose of organic feed before you leave. Using your regular fertilizer will be the best option because you already know how your plants respond to it. And just feeding them like you normally would will give them the extra boost they need while you are away.
Give them a good soaking before you leave too if you aren't seeing any rain in the coming days. A good heavy soak will last your garden two or three days, so you have plenty of time to sneak away. On the other hand, if there is rain on the forecast, skip watering, and let nature take care of the chores while you are gone.
Pick Ripe Fruit...And Almost Ripe Fruit
If you aren't going to be in the garden for a few days, make sure you pick all of the ripe fruit before you go. This will help keep the pests at bay while you are away. An overripe tomato is an invitation to a block party for most insects. And while you are picking all of the ripe fruit, go ahead and pick any tomatoes that are almost ripe before you go too. Leave them on the window sill to ripen while you are gone and you will have some fresh veggies to come home too. Win/Win!
Hire A Garden Nanny
If you will be gone more than two or three days, I recommend asking someone to come over and check on your garden while you are away. This can be a neighbor or a friend, and someone who knows a thing or two about the garden is a bonus, but not a necessity. You just want some eyes on the ground after 3 or 4 days. A lot can happen in the garden in that time span, and while you won't be asking them to take out the army worms that have suddenly invaded your tomatoes, you can ask them to water for you and invite them to pick any ripe fruit. This is a treat for most people who don't have the luxury of a backyard garden, so it may not feel like a chore to them at all.
While you may not be able to expect a neighbor to come in and take care of your garden while you are gone, you can call your local nursery and get recommendations of someone who can take care of things for you. If you are leaving in the middle of summer for a week or more, I highly recommend hiring someone who knows about growing veggies to be in charge while you are gone. It will give you peace of mind, and while in most cases is unnecessary, in some it may make the difference in you having a garden when you come back or not.
Most gardeners I know try to plant their trips in the slower seasons in order to not be away or have to hire someone to take care of things for them. One year, my husband planned a long vacation for our family right at the peak of the spring season. I left the house with almost ripe tomatoes on the vines and all kinds of vegetables I had worked so hard to have, just starting to form. When we came back, everything was dry, the fruit was rotten, and my plants were covered in pests. I never got any fruit that year, and while it was a wonderful trip, I worried about the garden entire time. Just by taking a few extra precautions, or asking someone to come pick while you are away, you can come home to the beautiful garden you had when you left.