Happy returns to my garden this summer

Joe Lamp’l - Executive Producer and Host | Growing a Greener World
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I love summer—wearing shorts, the kids are out of school so a more relaxed pace, and homegrown tomatoes. What could be better? Well, for me, a little more time in the garden. And I suspect it’s that way for a lot of you, too. Summer is usually the time when we pack up and get away for a week or two, and hope everything will be fine upon our return—especially in our gardens.

I used to worry about my garden, every time I’d leave it behind for days at a time, but no longer. In spite of an ever-increasing travel schedule (I write this post in-flight to Seattle and won’t see home for almost three weeks), my garden fares just fine without me. But it wasn’t always that way. In my less experienced gardening life, my plants were chemically dependant on fertilizers and pesticides, my beds lacked any mulch and plants were on their own for watering. You can imagine, my garden missed me when I was gone—and it showed.

Today, it’s a different story. Truth be told, I think I miss my garden a lot more than it misses me. The first thing I’ll do when I get home from this long trip, even before going inside, is sneak a peak (or more) at my garden. And I suspect it will look just fine. No, I don’t have a garden fairy and I don’t need one either.

As I’ve matured as a gardener, I’ve learned so much about what my garden really needs to thrive through the days and weeks that I’m away. First, I spend a lot of time making sure I’m doing all I can to improve the soil. Then I feed it naturally, with periodic additions of compost. Add to that a healthy layer of mulch over a simple drip irrigation system controlled by a timer, and my garden is good to go.

On the day before I left (and a ritual I do before every trip), I thoroughly inspected my garden for any pests, including their egg clusters usually attached to the underside of leaves. On this trip I found a couple of squash beetles and that’s it. Yet I wasn’t surprised. By being proactive in setting up my garden, and then staying actively engaged while I’m there, I know my garden is the best it can be while I’m gone.

When I return from this trip, I’m hoping I’ve timed my arrival just in time to harvest my first tomatoes of the season. They should be just about ready, and I can’t think of a better homecoming!

Article originally appeared on BurpeeHomeGardens.com. See website for complete article licensing information.