Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Monday, 30 July 2012

Guest Post: We're All Going on a Summer Holiday

Last week I asked if anyone fancied a Guest Post spot on Veg Plotting, to cover some of the 52 Week Salad Challenge topics I'd identified for this year's posts.

Cally over at Country Gate Gardens has kindly and quickly penned the first, on the subject of holiday watering...

Grouping pots together in bowls of water is one option to keep your plants happy whilst you're away on holiday

When Cliff Richard boarded that red London bus and started singing, it was all too apparent that here was no gardener. Anyone who has more than a pot of tomatoes to worry about at this time of year would not have been able to head off to Greece with such abandon. I remember only one extended holiday when I was growing up. Every sunny day on the beach or sightseeing was punctuated with mutterings from my mother about whether Aunty Betty had remembered to water the greenhouse.

In contrast I am relatively relaxed about the holiday watering regime. With a bit of planning and organisation most gardens will survive quite happily in your absence. Here are my top tips...

  • Get your plants in training. Giving them a good soak every few days is SO much better than little and often. It encourages the roots to push down deep and become well-developed. Then they’ll stand a much better chance of finding water in a dry spell. 
  • Try to ensure that all your plants are well established before you go away so no sowing ten days before you’re jetting off. Seedlings are not going to survive a fortnight’s neglect. I know - thanks to years of dealing with the burgeoning school garden during the Easter break. 
  • Soak your plants thoroughly just before you go away and mulch to ensure that the soil holds onto the moisture for longer. Use well-rotted manure, compost, bark chippings, leaf mould, shredded comfrey leaves, straw or newspaper. Don’t worry about drought-tolerant plants. They’ll be fine. And don’t bother about the lawn. Grass will recover from even the most severe drought once the rain falls. 
  • Heat sensitive plants like salads, which are prone to bolting will benefit from shading. Use green netting. Container grown plants can be moved into the shade. 
  • Dig out that old paddling pool, put it in the shade, fill with a few inches of water and leave your containers in it for the duration of your holiday. Houseplants can be placed in the bath. 
  • You can rig up a homemade irrigation system. I sink porous pots next to big plants and fill them with water. This allows water to seep slowly to the roots. Plastic bottles with a pinhole pricked in the bottom are less aesthetically pleasing but do the job just as well. Or invest in a soaker hose like this one
  • Quadgrow’s self-watering pots get the thumbs up from a friend of mine keeping thirsty tomato plants healthy for a fortnight. [NB there's lots of suppliers, so Google quadgrow and look for the best deal - Ed]
  • For the really upmarket option check out Rainwater Gardening

Or you could just rely on your Aunty Betty.

Thanks Cally for a great post! Our neighbours have kindly agreed to substitute for Aunty Betty this year ;)

Do you have any top tips to add? Leave them in the Comments below. I also have guest post spots available on growing salads using hydroponics or the hotbox technique. Drop me an email on vegplotting at gmail dot com if you can help.

3 comments:

  1. I use 2 liter plastic mineral bottles. I drill a hole in the lid, fill the bottle with water and push into the soil . I push a stick in beside it and tape it to the bottle to stop it toppling over. The water slowly drips out while I'm away.

    ReplyDelete
  2. On a whim i booked our 2013 holiday for 10 nights in Greece in the month of July. I shall be relying on my neighbour a lot then & collecting lots of bottles.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The Cookie Jar - good idea, the addition of the stick for stability is new to me and a sensible addition!

    awholeplotoflove - I hope you had a great time!

    ReplyDelete
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