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Getting your garden ready for your summer vacation

It's the time of year for that mid-summer vacation and like me, you may be thinking of who will care for your garden while you are away having fun. Vegetables continue to ripen and must be picked. Plants need to be fed and watering during hot days in the summer garden. Prepare ahead of time and have a plan for summer garden care while you are on vacation.

In spring

Your plan for summer garden care during your vacation can start before the plane tickets are purchased or vacation rentals are secured. When preparing the soil in fall or spring, work in a good amount of organic material, such as compost or organic mulch from the previous year. As organic materials break down, they supply nutrients to growing garden perennials and vegetables.

When you begin watering your newly planted garden in spring, water deeply and infrequently. This encourages roots to grow and stretch downward for their water supply. Deeper roots equal stronger roots and a healthier plant. Deep-rooted plants perform well with less frequent watering in the summer garden. I plant drought-tolerant varieties when possible and get them established before summer vacation time.

In summer

After the garden is planted, cover with a layer of organic mulch. This helps retain moisture in the soil and can work to keep roots cool and healthy. For roots that like heat, such as tomatoes, black mulch can draw more heat to the roots. Remove visible weeds before mulching and later remove any that might peek through.

Invest in watering devices for those garden perennials such as astilbe that cannot be allowed to dry out.

Before you leave on your summer vacation getaway, plan for watering and harvesting. If you have a sprinkler system on a timer, set it to water every second or third day you will be away. If not, invest in a couple of soaker hoses that will benefit the garden not just during your summer vacation, but during the entire growing season.

Find a trusted neighbor or friend that gardens to check on your summer garden plantings and water and harvest while you are away. Offer the vegetable or fruit harvest to them as a thank you. Some vegetables will not wait for your return for use. Offer a bouquet of summer flowers as well.

A day or two before leaving

  • Move containers into a shaded area and water well. Potted plants need less water in the shade.
  • Withhold fertilizer which encourages growth that needs more water
  • Water all garden areas deeply with a soaker hose. Leave the hose in place so your fill-in gardener just has to turn it on.

With a plan in place for summer garden care, you will be able to relax and enjoy your summer vacation and return to blooming, beautiful summer garden.

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