Holiday proofing the garden

You know the feeling. You’ve had a wonderful couple of weeks on holiday, and are well and truly relaxed and recharged.  You saunter out into the garden to squeeze in a bit more relaxation time before the dreaded return to work, and it hits you. The garden is a tip: the lawn is up to your knees and the plants have trebled in size.

However, there are a couple of things you can do before you set off, to ease the devastation on your return.

Weeding – hoe in amongst the vegetables and have a general weed around the garden. If they’re out, they’re less likely to take over the garden while you’re away.

Deadhead – take off the flowers that have finished. This may well encourage the plant to throw up some new flowers, just in time for when you get back.

Mowing – cut the lawn as short as you can without scalping it, and with any luck it will just need a quick whiz over after your holiday.

If you are growing vegetables, it’s always handy to ask/enlist/bribe a friendly relative or neighbour to pop in to look after the plants. I normally tell them to help themselves to any crops that are ready whilst we’re gone: they get a free dinner and we don’t have to throw stuff away when we get back. A holiday gift normally goes down a treat, too.

Once you have found a willing volunteer, make it easy for them. Nobody minds popping in on ‘Operation Plant Watch’ for five minutes a day, but if it’s a faff of a job that lasts ages, they may think twice about volunteering in the future.

We’ve installed a watering system in the greenhouse. You fill up one bag on the greenhouse wall, and hey presto – six plants are kept as happy as Larry for a couple of days. I’ve also put the pots on the bench inside troughs and trays – just to keep the water lasting that little bit longer. All the pots, inside and out are grouped together so they can all be watered in one go. The water butts have all been topped up too.

If you keep chickens, you’ll know that they are unfussy creatures with relatively simple needs. As you will be away from the house, have a quick check around the coop to make sure that they can’t get out, and more importantly, no predators are likely to get in. Give the hen house a really good clean, with fresh sawdust and straw, and if the forecast is hot, a quick squib of anti-red mite powder won’t go amiss either. Also, ensure that part of the coop is in shade, so they always have somewhere cool to retreat to.

Make sure the food and water is full to the brim, and you may also want to think about an extra water supply too – just to be certain they won’t go thirsty.  Anything sturdy that won’t be kicked over will work well, eg an old washing up bowl on top of a breeze block. Ask your garden sitters to check the hens regularly to make sure they are happy and have plenty of fresh food and water, and to collect any eggs.

After all that, you can be reasonably safe in the knowledge that all should be tickety boo when you get back, and enjoy your holiday. Bon voyage!

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