Vacation Plant Care
It's vacation time. We all enjoy a nice vacation
but most of us want something left in the landscape when we
return. If that’s the case, then there are some steps
you can take to insure plant survival during your absence.
Water your plants deeply if rains have been
scarce. If you'll be gone over 5 to 7 days, enlist the help
of a neighbor. There is an easy and excellent way to water.
It’s called drip irrigation. Drip irrigation also simplifies
your irrigation methods and reduces the amount of labor involved.
This is imperative if you have a family which is allergic
to dirt and sweat and who will let plants die of thirst when
you are away if an easy watering technique is not available.
Drip systems can be easily activated from a single faucet.
A drip irrigation system also takes care of situations when
your helpful friends and family "forget" to water
certain plants. Once the drip hose is installed around shrubs
and vegetables, it never "forgets" to water—it
specifically waters each and every plant. Of course, you’ll
have to remember to activate the drip system for 3 hours a
day every other day by turning on the water faucet. If you
can't remember this, you can purchase an automatic timer to
"remember" for you.
Fertilize lightly, if at all, right prior to
leaving. Nitrogen fertilizers are the big growth producers—so
go especially light.
Prune plants that are likely to get rangy by
the time you return. Pick all ripe and nearly ripe vegetables.
If you'll be gone over a week, arrange for a friend to harvest
and use the produce.
Check carefully and spray for all insect and
disease pests. Four days can ruin a plant that gets hit with
spider mites. The same thing goes for caterpillars.
Spray or hoe weeds in the garden—they
can quickly conquer your beds and landscape while you are
Mow the grass the last day or two before you
leave. Don't mow "extra close" or you'll likely
hurt the grass, subjecting it to sun-burning. Don't let your
grass grow hog wild while you're gone—get somebody in
for a clip job. He'll probably need to edge walks as well.
Mulch as much as possible. A good mulch conserves
moisture, prevents compaction, keeps soil temperature lower,
reduces weed population and, in case weeds do get a start,
they are much easier to pull if a mulch has been used. Check
the depth of the mulch material. Organic mulches tend to decompose
or sometimes wash away, so frequent checks and replacement
where necessary will help conserve moisture.
Put houseplants out under a shade tree or near a bright window.
Soak them overnight before you leave, but don't leave them
standing in water for the duration.
Take equipment by the repair shop if needed.
Hopefully they'll have it ready when you return.
You’ll have a nice trip—secure
in the knowledge that things at home will be fine when you