How to make sure your vegetable garden doesn’t suffer when you’re on holiday – even if you can’t get someone else to do the watering
Vegetable gardens take a fair bit of effort and hard work, and no one wants to come home from a break to find that everything is shrivelled and dead. Obviously if you’ve got grown-up kids or a neighbour who’s prepared to look after things when you’re away – perhaps in exchange for their fill of veggies! – that’s ideal, but for many of us that’s not an option. However, the good news is that there are easy ways to keep your courgettes cherished and your lettuces loved.If you’re away for three or four days…
1. The day before you leave, give the soil a really good soaking (take your time over this). Do this again two hours later. This will help the soil absorb the maximum amount of water, so it can gradually release it to your plants while you’re away.
2. Mulch the soil. (This just means covering the soil’s surface and you can do it with many different materials, including bark chippings, leaf mould and well-rotted farmyard manure.) Mulching has many benefits, one of which is locking moisture into the soil.
3. Pick all your vegetables, even the ones that aren’t ripe yet. Dust the soil from them, but don’t wash them. Now it’s time to store them, and where you do this depends on what you’ve harvested. Leaf vegetables are best kept in the lower part of the fridge, for example, whereas tomatoes and peppers need to ripen at room temperature.If you’re away for one or two weeks…
1. If you go away regularly – or just want to spend less time watering your garden and more time enjoying it! – you might want to consider investing in an automatic watering system. Ask your local garden centre about which system is best suited for your garden.
2. For a more homespun version of this, you can use old plastic bottles. Drill some holes into the cap, then turn the bottle upside down and cut off the base before burying next to your plants. Then, all you have to do is fill the bottle with water which it will gradually release into the soil.