Summer time and the flower beds are dazzling us with colour, the vegetable garden is yielding its harvest and shrubs are full of blooms. It’s a time to sit back and enjoy the rewards of spring’s labours. But it’s also a time to take a break and get away for a vacation.
For many keen gardeners tending to the backyard garden and finding time to vacation is a tough task. You come back from two weeks of relaxation only to find that your soil resembles concrete, the weeds are larger than the vegetables and you have zucchinis that look like they could be loaded into a torpedo tube and fired at a submarine. It can be somewhat disheartening.
So what can you do? It’s a matter of planning and technique. Plan out your garden schedule just like you plan out all the details for your vacation.
Some of us are fortunate enough to have a good neighbor who looks after the garden while we’re away. You return and the garden looks better than it did when you left. Of course, you return the favour when they’re away.
This is the ideal situation and we all know that good neighbours are worth their weight in gold. But if they don’t exist on your street there may be others who would be willing to babysit. Start your search early so you can indoctrinate your garden helper to your methods of weeding, harvesting and watering.
If you don’t know or trust anyone enough to look after your acreage there are several techniques to use to reduce the impact of your absence. Mulching is a terrific way to reduce moisture loss and keep weeds down. If you don’t use it already consider laying mulch down between the rows before you leave and water the garden heavily. This should keep things from drying out too quickly.
Automatic watering systems are a wonderful invention for gardeners who like to vacation to with peace of mind. Set it and forget it can be a godsend; as long as you have battery backups for the timers in case the power goes out!
Some crops can be timed to be harvested before and after your vacation. Early maturing varieties of many vegetables are available and you can have your peas, carrots, onions and beets off and in the freezer before you leave. Conversely you can plan for later harvests so you can pick after your return.
You can use a little bribery to ensure that the garden bounty is harvested. If you plead with your friends or relatives to please come and pick everything you’ll likely find that it will be done. Nothing works better than the promise of free and fresh vegetables.
If you can’t give it away pick everything that you think will ripen in your absence before you leave. Throw the immature fruits onto the compost pile and at least they’ll do some good there.
If you’re serious about gardening and serious about summer vacations (who isn’t?) a little planning at the beginning of the growing season will help relieve any worries about what is happening back home while you’re at the lake or on the road this summer. Have a safe and worry-free (on all fronts) vacation.

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