Well, I am off on another whirlwind adventure. I am taking the hubby and the kids on a weeklong cruise down the Mississippi River. Not quite Huck Fin style, but we rented our own little version of a water bound RV and we are planning on taking 7 days to fish, sleep, play and drink adult beverages (the kids won’t be partaking in the adult beverages – Somebody needs to steer).
But for as fun as a week away from home sounds, it is still a week away from home. As an avid gardener, particularly given that I love container gardening, a week away from the garden is a potential time bomb. No matter how well you plan or how well you think you covered things, there is the potential for disaster.
Like 3 years ago when my wonderful but elderly neighbor hurt her leg while I was gone and was unable to water my plants in 90F heat for near a week. Utter devastation. I literally lost half of my potted exotic plant collection and the other half took the rest of the year to recover. Plus, all that vacation bliss I returned with that year got right back on the plane and flew off to destinations unknown. Plant funerals are not a good way to end a vacation.
So, here is my game plan to come back to a garden that looks lovely and, most importantly, living:
1)Â Â Â Â Â Kiddy pools are not just for kids — The advice for caring for houseplants when you leave on vacation is to relocate them to the tub and place them in an inch of water. It is a little harder to do that with 20-30 rather large containers. But a $15 kiddy pool makes a great substitute. Set it up in a shady spot and fill with an inch or so of water. *bonus* Your house sitter will have all your precious plants in one location, which makes making sure they watered everything that much easier.
2)Â Â Â Â Â Be like the A-Team — have a Plan B — As mentioned above, your back up may need a backup. Â Ask a neighbor, family member or a close friend to stop by daily to water your plants. Ask another neighbor, family member or close friend to stop by once or twice while you are gone. If Plan A has an emergency (or just flakes on you), Plan B can at least make sure that your plants don’t pull a Death Valley imitation.
3)Â Â Â Â Â Timers are a girl’s best friend — If you can’t find a Plan B (or a Plan A for that matter) consider investing $20 or so in a timer for a sprinkler. You can make sure that your plants get a little spa sprinkler treatment daily on a schedule.
4)Â Â Â Â Â Take a little off the top — All those annuals that are looking just a little too leggy, those perennials that came, bloomed and went and the herbs that have not been used quite enough. You need to trim those puppies the day before you leave. This is not just about coming back to a living garden but returning to a magnificent garden. Â Â A week while you are not there will give those recently trimmed plants enough time to recover and greet you looking like the height of May.
5)Â Â Â Â Â Give it away — You know that you have some things in the garden that will reach peak right after you leave or that you just won’t be able to enjoy before you go. Veggies and herbs can find homes with friends, family and your local food bank. Cut flowers are always much appreciated by senior homes and day cares. Think of it as karma to ensure a blissful and re-energizing vacation.
Think of me fondly while I am floating down the Mississippi. On a slightly related note, in theory I should not be able to connect to the internet while traveling. This will make the first time in 10 years that I have been away from the internet for more than 24 hours. Wish me luck.