19th Sep, 2020

GARDENING TIME: Peace of mind while you're away

James Iles 29th Jul, 2020

THOUGH it’s less likely you’ll be enjoying a foreign holiday this summer due to the pandemic, many readers will still be hoping for a break in the UK.

And, having perhaps spent more time than normal on your garden during lockdown, you won’t want plants to dry out and die while you’re away.

James Iles shares some top tips to keep your pots and baskets from dehydrating so you can relax on your getaway.

‘Planting’ water globes or installing an irrigation system – Water globes cost as little as a fiver for a pack of four from online shopping sites.

Suitable for pot sizes between 14 cm up to 50 cm, they work as soil releases oxygen into the globe when it dries out, which in turn releases the water the plant needs.

It’s an automatic watering system for up to two weeks, ensuring a longer life for your plants.

It’s also vastly cheaper and less time consuming than installing an irrigation system.

However, while more expensive, some irrigation systems can be controlled via a smartphone app while you’re away giving you the easiest and maximum control over watering your plants.

Huddle pots together – Create a micro-climate for your pots by huddling them together in a shadier spot to limit the amount of heat they endure.

Give pots and containers a good soaking before you go away and place them in saucers full of water if possible.

Green ways – Encourage your friend or neighbour to use your water butt to care for your garden. Picture by James Iles.

It’s best not to place them too close to your house or an outbuilding as the overhang from the roof might mean they miss out on vital rainfall.

Put hanging baskets in shade and on a bucket – This is a “cheap as chips” tip if you have a few spare buckets or large pots without drainage holes.

Take down your hanging baskets and place them on an upside down bucket with a bucket full of water on another bucket besides it.

Next, soak a tea towel in water and place it partly in the bucket or container full of water and partly draped it into the hanging basket.

This should ensure a steady transfer of H2O from one container to the other while you’re away.

Don’t worry about your lawn drying out – Unless you are responsible for a crown green bowling lawn there really is no need to keep your turf watered.

Lawns may go brown and dusty during a hot and dry spell but they always recover and will re-green quicker than you think once the rain returns.

Similarly, established trees and shrubs should recover from a drought, especially if you give them a good soak when you return.

Deadhead flowers and pick fruit that’s ripe – Before you go deadhead the flowers in your pots, containers and hanging baskets so you don’t come home to lots of spent blooms.

This will also encourage them to bloom some more, hopefully in time for your return.

Pick and store any fruit that’s ready. Raspberries could be frozen and used later while apples and pears could be picked and stored.

Alternatively encourage anyone who is caring for your garden in your absence to help themselves to any ripe fruit or veg you may be growing in your patch.

Ask a neighbour or friend for help – On that theme, if you’re lucky enough to have neighbours or friends you can trust to water your garden while you are on holiday then they are a friend indeed.

Perhaps you could join a gardening club to find like-minded people who could help you out?

If you work together you can return the favour to them while they are away too.

Be sure to make the job as easy as possible for them by leaving your hose uncoiled and briefing them properly about which pots and baskets to water the most and when.

Leave watering cans within easy reach and encourage them to use your water butt first and foremost to save your water bills and protect the environment.

And finally, remember to come home from your break with a gift for your garden carer and of course you should offer them their pick of the flowers.

  • See more of James’ Gardening tips and pictures on Instagram, by following @jigsaw_gardening

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