Caring For An In-Ground Garden During Vacation

Summer is vacation time. It's also gardening time. These two activities conflict. The worst time to leave a garden is during the peak of the summer, when the garden needs to be weeded and watered and vegetables need to be harvested before they're discovered by bugs and animals. Unfortunately, it's also the best time to hit the beach for a bit of relaxing. So what's a gardener who's been bitten by the travel bug to do? Here are a few options. 

Pay a Neighbor Kid

The traditional way of dealing with this is to find an enterprising and trustworthy young neighbor and offer him a little spending money in exchange for watering the garden once or twice a day. This option is a win-win as long as the kid has extensive instructions and promises not to miss a day.

Automatic Sprinklers

Gardeners with an automatic sprinkler have nothing to worry about except the rain. If a proper watering schedule is set up in the sprinkler system before vacation starts, the garden will remain watered and healthy during its caretaker's vacation. A few vegetables may be lost to animals, but gardens are often so fruitful in the summer that gardeners likely won't miss a couple of stolen zucchini. Gardeners also should give a neighbor shut-off instructions to prevent water waste in case it rains

DIY Irrigation

A DIY irrigation system is useful through the entire growing season, and if it's all set up correctly, a neighbor would just have to turn on the outside water source once a day to irrigate the garden. Irrigation system kits are available for purchase, or gardeners can get creative with their own setup using items easily found at hardware stores. Soaker hoses, which are perforated hoses, can be snaked through garden and flower beds. They drip water at a rate the ground can absorb it and soak the plant roots with minimal soil loss or evaporation. Once the soaker hoses are placed in the garden, they can be staked to the ground using u-clips and hidden with a layer of mulch for a season-long solution. Gardeners should determine how long it takes for the flower bed to absorb at least 6 inches of water and then instruct a neighbor to leave the water running for that length of time. If no one is available to turn the spigot on and off every day, faucet timers are available at most home improvement stores. 

With these solutions, vacationing gardeners should be able to relax on the beach, worry-free and confident that their garden will survive in their absence.