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August: Going on Holiday

After all the work planting, watering and feeding our garden during the last few months it is just coming to a climax of colour and beauty. All is growing well in the vegetable patch and it will soon be time to harvest the fruits of our crop. So what should we do when we go on holiday? Leaving all behind.

Two weeks in the garden without any attention is a very long time and plants soon get overgrown with weeds, die through lack of water or bashed about by winds and with the lawn about a foot tall. You may sometimes think when you return, why did I bother?

Don’t despair there are many simple things you can do so that you return home to a beautiful and tidy garden. You don’t want to be lying on the beach wondering if your broad beans have got black fly.

The most reliable solution is to approach a like-minded gardener or gardeners ask if they would like to join you in garden twinning. So a day or so before the date for your holiday take a walk around your garden with them making notes of what will need doing and showing them where to find the necessary tools, water point etc. 

Check that your holiday dates don’t clash and then the same for them when they are away.

Leave them with the minimum amount of work to do, if possible cut the lawn with the blades set low and hoe off the weeds in the vegetable patch and flowers borders. Spray the paths with weed killer and remove the dead heads from your flowering plants. It is not a bad idea to remove the open flowers as well (you won’t be there to enjoy them anyway), so that while you are away they will be producing new buds to give you a flash of colour on your return.

Harvest any vegetables that are ready and give them to family and friends, much better than letting them go rotten or run to seed, and of course tell your gardening friend to help themselves to any that they would like while you are away.

If on the other had you have to leave the garden un-attended for the duration of your holiday in addition to the above there are some other things you can do to minimise the effect of your being away.

Hanging baskets suffer particularly badly if you haven’t got a watering system (easy to install and not that expensive). Dig a shallow hole in the border out of direct sun, sheltered from the wind by a fence or large shrub, dead head and trim back any long straggly growth, fill a bucket with water to near the top, place the basket on top with the base in the water and leave overnight so that the water is absorbed into the compost. 

Purchase a piece of capillary mating from your garden centre about three times the size of the hole, fill the hole with water and let it drain. Place the capillary matting (an old towel will do) over the hole, fill with water again and then place in your basket. Enough water will be drawn from the ground through the matting to keep your basket flourishing.

For containers use capillary matting cut into 3” wide strips. After soaking, place one end into a bucket of water and the other peg into the centre of the container so water will seep through gradually, of course, give them a real good watering before you go.

Move all your containers if possible into the shade and out of the drying winds.  If you have a greenhouse then you do need a garden twin or at the least a kindly well briefed neighbour.

Alternatively, you could try and persuade your family to join you on a cruise or a skiing holiday in February!!

Enjoy your garden and your holiday.

Tip from Brian.

Don’t ask the teenagers to do the watering, they are sure to forget or just remember the day before you come back and then give the dead plants a good soak. “Honest I did water them Mom”.