Before leaving for summer vacation, give flower and vegetable gardens a last good long soak. Established annuals can usually last for ten days without supplemental water. Most perennials can make it through two weeks.
While you’re enjoying that well deserved summer vacation, remember that your garden will be home working hard. Here are some simple tips to keep your garden going while you hang the “Gone Fishin’” sign on the front gate.
Give it a good soak – Before heading off, give flower and vegetable gardens a last good long soak. Happily, depending on how long you’re gone and the behavior of local weather, further watering may not be a worry. Established annuals can usually last for ten days without supplemental water. Most perennials can make it through two weeks and trees and shrubs won’t feel the pinch for about a month. Lawns are the camels of the garden. A healthy lawn can go four to six weeks without extra water.
Protect container plantings – Container plants usually need more water, more often, than in-ground plantings. For prized container plantings, you’ll probably want to ask a friend for help. Make it easy for them by grouping containers in a protected area with indirect sun, but access to rainfall. It’s a snap to water all in one spot and harder to miss a pot, thus lessening stress on plants and on your watering chum.
Do pinch backs now – Before you leave, check containers for leggy plants that would benefit from a good hard pinch back to refresh their late season growth and appearance. By pinching them now, your plants can rebound from that freshly-shorn ‘bad haircut look’ while you’re not around.
A second application of Preen Garden Weed Preventer atop mulch or soil will stop weed seeds in the soil and mulch from sprouting while you’re away and well into the fall.
Apply a pre-emergent garden weed preventer – Most people associate pre-emergent garden weed preventers such as Preen with early spring, but mid-summer is another smart time to apply it. A second application atop mulch or soil will stop weed seeds in the soil and mulch from sprouting while you’re away and well into the fall. Remember that mulch and Preen prevent new weeds from happening. They don’t kill existing weeds.
Don’t feed before you leave – Don’t fertilize plants before leaving. Slower growth is what you want while you are away, especially as you move towards fall.
Harvest produce – Harvest as much produce as possible before you leave. If you can’t take it with you, or just have too much, donate to a food pantry or share with friends or family. If you’re going to be gone for more than two weeks, consider having someone visit the vegetable garden to harvest any produce. If you stop harvesting vegetables, some stop producing.