05 Aug KEEPING PLANTS GOING WHILE YOU’RE ON HOLIDAY
Holiday season is upon us!
But how can you ensure your precious plants don’t miss you too much while you’re away? No irrigation system or neighbourly help with watering? No worries…
Train your plants to be tough
Unless you have a very established garden with a high proportion of shrubs and mature plants, a week or fortnight away during the height of summer could spell trouble for your perennial border plants. Particularly if yours have always been cossetted with regular irrigation. Yes it’s important to water new and young plants well until they have a decent sized root system, but then try to back off a little with the hosepipe – it will breed tougher plants more able to withstand your absence.
The same goes for lawns
Enjoy the fact that you can save water and the effort of mowing by laying off the sprinkler. Excessive watering of your lawn discourages the establishment of deep roots, actually making it less resistant to drought during holidays.
In the veg garden
If you always go away in the summer think about not growing crops that need attention or harvesting during that period. And consider how you actually grow – for example tomatoes in gro-bags have shallow, limited roots which dry out very quickly. A tomato plant in the border with its longer root runs has more chance of finding water.
Short term fixes
Consider these measures for plants that could still be worse off for your holiday:
Drench new borders and keep that water in with a thick layer of mulch to reduce evaporation.
Or try sinking a plastic bottle of water into the ground near the rootball which will drip water slowly through a tiny hole in the lid.
Plants in pots are particularly vulnerable while you’re away – packed with plants, and large root systems now competing for more water than ever. Add in a breezy day and it’s even more drying.
You could just place a saucer of water underneath each pot to act as a reservoir during a hot day. But try this simple emergency watering system – raise a bucket of water over the container with strips of jay cloth pushed into the soil at one end and dunked in the water at the other. I tried this gradual diffusion system last summer and it worked well!