Help your plants survive your holiday with these 6 handy tips.
Image: Pille-Riin Priske, Unsplash
Treating yourself and the family to a week or two away shouldn’t mean your hard work in the garden goes to waste. We spoke to The Greenhouse People who gave us their top tips for keeping plants alive while you're on holiday. It turns out all that's needed is a little preparation…
Deadhead and de-weed
In the lead up to your holiday, set aside some time to tidy up in the garden. Weeding might be the last thing on your mind, but weeds compete with your plants for water. Give your plants the advantage by pulling weeds, especially if no rain is forecast.
It can also pay-off to deadhead any plants which are fading out of bloom, helping them to concentrate their energy on growth.
With the unpredictable British weather, it can be difficult to pre-empt rain or shine. Keep an eye on the weather forecast leading up to your holiday and if it isn’t due to rain, then drench your plants with water as late as you can. You can also add mulch to the soil which will help it retain water and keep weeds at bay.
There are a few innovative techniques to water your plants remotely too, such as programmable irrigation systems or mixing hydrogel crystals in with your soil for slow-release watering.
Plants in pots are the most vulnerable to drying out. You can add watering devices to potted plants, or even make your own. Simply rinse and fill a wine bottle with water, push in a cork and create a hole going through the entire length of the cork. Insert the wine bottle upside down into the plant and it will be hydrated for up to three days. It’s a good idea to try out this method the week before you go to see if the water lasts or if you need to use more than one bottle.
However, the best technique to prevent dehydrated plants is asking a friend or neighbour for help and returning the favour the next time they go away.
Move to the shade
Image: Henry & Co
Group potted plants in a shady position to protect them from direct sunlight. Putting them up against a wall or fence will keep them out the sun but also offer stability, and even create a humid microclimate which will help to keep them hydrated.
Use clippings from mowed lawn
Image: Daniel Watson, Unsplash
Complete two tasks in one by mowing the lawn and using the clippings as mulch. A light trim of your lawn will help it stay healthy, while leaving the clippings on the lawn or in flower beds will give back essential nutrients and hydration.
Clippings also provide shade for the soil and is particularly useful for vegetable patches which will love the extra nitrogen in the grass.
Support your fruit and veg
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Firstly, you should harvest any ripe crops, and even ones that are nearly ripe too. Tomatoes and strawberries continue to ripen after you pick them, so pop them in the fridge and enjoy them when you return.
Climbing and sprawling plants benefit from support and are likely to shoot up while you are on holiday. Plan for this extra growth by carefully placing supports around the plants which will need it most like tomatoes, runner beans and raspberries.
Tender plants like lettuce and oriental salads are the most at risk and must be protected with shade.
Don’t forget houseplants
Image: Petter Rudwall, Unsplash
While you're busy preparing your garden it's easy to forget to also take care of your houseplants. Make sure to move any houseplants away from sunny windowsills to help them stay hydrated.
One idea is to place them in a bathtub or shower lined with a plastic sheet and several layers of newspaper. Simply run water until the newspaper is sodden and pull the shower curtain closed to help retain moisture.
Got any tips of your own for keeping plants alive in the heat? Let us know by tweeting us @goodhomesmag or posting a comment on our Facebook page.