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Jul 27, 2017
Plants don’t take vacations
Denielle Noe  Program Administrator

If you followed some of my other blog posts, I have made it no secret that I thrive on container gardening, since that is the only type of gardening I am allowed in my community. Container gardening can be an awesome way to go if you have limited space or, like me, are not allowed to grow in the ground.

The main differences I found between container gardening and in-ground gardening is that you need to find plants that LOVE containers, and you need to give them more water than their in-ground counterparts. There-in lies a problem: Frequent watering becomes an issue when it's time for summer vacations.

Many of us take time off during the heart of summer, which usually is the hottest time of year for your plants that need attention the most. Unfortunately, plants do not like being unattended for more than a couple of days in extreme heat — especially in containers. Very few of us have that handy neighbor or relative willing to give your plants the watering they need while you're away.

Since I live far enough away from pretty much everyone, I had to come up with some creative ways to give my plants the water they need to survive the summer and my vacation plans. Here are just some of the tips I have tried over the years with good success:

Tip 1: Give Plenty of Water
If you are only going to be gone a couple of days or less than a week, you may be able to get away with a good watering right before you leave without drowning your plants. Otherwise, in addition to giving plenty of water, try some of these other tips in combination to extend your vacation time.

Tip 2: Make Self-Watering Jugs
Try your hand at making your own self-watering system out of old plastic jugs. Thoroughly clean your jug so you don’t containment your plants with unwanted chemicals or bacteria, especially if you are using a jug that held something other than water. Poke a small hole into the bottom half of the jug making sure it drips steadily out from the bottom. Next, place the jug in the soil next to your plant pushing it in a couple of inches below the soil covering the hole you made. Following tip No. 1, still give your plants plenty of water before your trip and fully fill the jug up with water. It will slowly drip into the plant’s roots while you’re off having fun. Make as many self-watering jugs as you need for each of your containers. Try using over-sized tall water bottles for smaller compact containers.

Tip 3: Water Bulbs and Moisture-Retaining Materials
Not into making your own jugs or think they look less than appealing? Water bulbs, globes and other self-watering garden tools is another way to give your plants hydration while you're away. While this option might drain your pocket book a little, on the plus side, water bulbs are prettier than their budget-conscious plastic-jug equivalents. Similar to the self-watering jug, be sure to thoroughly water your plants before you leave and then fill each water bulb fully for every container you place them in. Water will slowly drip into the soil, which will buy you more vacation time than just heavily watering your plants alone.

Tip 4: Time Swap with Friends
While I may not have that handy neighbor or family member, many of you do. So here is tip No. 4: Try forming a watering time swap with your area friends. The idea is that they can take care of your plants while you are away and you can repay them by doing the same when they take a trip. It’s that simple! Plus by helping each other out, you are being a good friend at the same time. That’s what friends are for.

Tip 5: Hire Someone
Don’t have a friend and didn’t spend all of your money on your planned trip? Try hiring a landscaper or garden sitter. If you are going to be away for weeks on end, this will be your best option. Arrange for someone to come in once or twice a week to take care of your plants. Check with your local garden center or landscaper to see if they offer this type of garden service. Be prepared that many do not offer short-term care, but may be able to refer you to someone who does.

Tip 6: Be Prepared to Lose a Few Plants
Despite all the preparation in the world, if it’s super-hot outside while you are away, your garden might look really bad upon your return. Worst case scenario, you just lose a couple plants for the sake of your vacation. But don’t throw in the towel if your plants look like they are dead or on life-support, give them a good deep soak of water, a little nutrition, and some time. Once your plants are back on schedule, you might be surprised that some of the plants you were writing epitaphs for spring back to life and are thriving again.

I hope these tips help the next time you take a vacation. Do you like these tips or have more ideas to share? Be sure to tell us below or tag us at any of our online social sites @BurpeeHG.

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Reader Comments (2)
Why are the tomatoes in my garden bright red but very hard and never get soft? They did fine before, except for tough skins. What has gone wrong? Do you have any suggetions?
Friday, July 28, 2017 |
Hi Kitty ... That's a tough one. Are the tomatoes very hard? Some determinate tomato types are quite firm. Other factors could be that it's too hot (over 90) and the fruit won't turn darker red and ripen. Hot weather inhibits lycopene. Soil fertility can also make large, hard orange "splotches". What variety did you grow this year? That might help us provide you a better recommendation. You can also send a picture of the tomato at our Contact Us page here:
Monday, July 31, 2017 | Burpee Team Member
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