Your Plants Don’t Want a ‘Holiday’

If you’re going on holiday shortly, don’t forget that your garden and plants will appreciate some TLC before you leave. An hour or two spent sorting out your plants can not only help to keep them going whilst you’re sunning yourself elsewhere, but also help to make your house look less abandoned in your absence. So before you grab a suitcase, make sure you spend some time in the garden.

I’m certainly not a lawn buff, but whether your lawn is your priority, or like me it’s more of a patch of grass than a bowling green, sort it out before you go. Give it a thorough mowing, cutting it as short as you dare but without ‘scalping’ it by cutting too low. Next take a pair of lawn edging shears, a half-moon edger or simply a sharp spade and neaten all the edges, including those next to flower beds. The effect of edging lasts far longer than mowing and will not only stop the lawn moving into the flower beds, but also make the grass appear more recently maintained.

Make sure that all plants, especially those in containers and those forming fruit whilst you’re away, are given a good feed before you go. Liquid feeds usually have the speediest response, but if you’re taking a long trip, controlled release fertiliser granules will last for longer. If you use a dry or granular feed, make sure that you water it in well unless it’s just about to rain.

It really is worth persuading a friend, relative or neighbour to pop in to your garden and do the odd bit of watering. Make sure to suggest that they pick the sweet-peas, harvest some veg and so forth, then you’ll both benefit.

A good, thorough watering of the garden will mean that plants in open ground should be unharmed by hot weather for a good while. Plants in pots and tubs are totally reliant on you if there is not much rain, so make these your priority, and tell your plant-sitter where all the containers are, especially those out of sight.

Many plants cease flowering if faded flowers are left on them and allowed to start to form seeds. This means it’s extra important to remove every faded bloom before you leave. If you’re off for more than a week, I suggest ‘dead heading’ not only the faded flowers, but also those which are just starting to fade. A sharp pair of scissors or just your finger and thumb should do the trick.

Hanging baskets are invariably in the hottest, sunniest pots in the garden and with their roots up in the air they are especially prone to drought. Unless you have a really reliable watering helper lined up, it’s best to carefully lower hanging baskets and stand each one on its own pot in a shady spot where it will dry out less quickly.

Planters and patio pots lose moisture very readily especially if the weather is hot, windy or, worse, a combination of both. By carefully grouping the pots together in one place you’ll not only make it easier for your holiday helper to find them all, but will also create shade around the roots of the pots, so reducing the risk of drought and heat damage. Try to position more drought tolerant patio plants such as pelargoniums, towards the outer edge of the group, and more drought prone plants towards the cooler centre of the group.

Make sure that your garden sheds and other storage areas are properly secured so that there’s less chance that any light-fingered guests will burgle your belongings. It’s worth giving the padlock keys to a neighbour, just in case there is anything in the shed that might be needed in your absence.

Ladders, mattocks, spades and other gardening items that could be used to break into your house (or the shed) should be removed completely, or locked away out of sight so that they don’t encourage burglary.

Finally check that plants are healthy and that any new outbreaks of pests or diseases are treated or dealt with before you go – leave a handful of whitefly in your greenhouse, or a few greenfly on your roses, and there may well be a full-scale disaster zone when you return!

Visit Pippa’s website:

www.pippagreenwood.com and order your ‘Winter Thru’ Spring’ Vegetable Collection, including purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflowers, cabbages and winter lettuces plus autumn planting garlic, shallots and onions AND monthly advice and tips emails from Pippa. Orders close soon. Whilst there, visit the new products area for a great selection of products including signed copies of Pippa’s books, Grower Frames, cloches, raised bed kits, delightful terracotta herb planters and wall plaques, biological pest controls and lots more!

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