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  • Writer's pictureAndrea Wenzel

7 Ways to Keep a Garden When You're on Vacation

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

Let's face it, growing food is a very hands-on activity. There is nothing really passive about it but sometimes we need to leave our homes for a week or two. Sometimes this absence is out of necessity and other times, simply for leisure. No matter what the reason, if you're getting away, you'll need to put in a few systems in place to keep things going for a short amount of time.

  1. Water, water, water! If nothing else, you'll need to water your plants. We like to get away for a little bit every summer, so we've finally invested in a few timers that attach to the hoses. You can also use milk jugs and poke a few pin holes in the bottom to create a slow-release watering system. But you might need a lot of milk jugs and quite frankly, it's a hassle if you have more than a handful if plants. In our personal experience, the timers are 100% worth it. Before doing anything though, check the weather. A stretch of 3 hot sunny days can cause some plants to wilt. If it will be raining the whole week that you are gone, you really don't need to waste money watering your garden. While this may seem painfully obvious, it's a step that could easily be overlooked as you scramble to pack and shop for last minute things before you leave. In a pinch, you can always ask a neighbor to water for you, but I wouldn't do this unless it was a real emergency and not a planned vacation. If you do have a neighbor water for you, offer something in return and bring back a small souvenir as a token of appreciation.

  2. Weeds. If you're gone long enough, you'll come back to plenty of weeds. An easy way to avoid this is to lay out weed barriers like layers of newspaper and pieces of cardboard. Cover your barriers with mulch. Small stones or even tent stakes can be used to keep your weed barrier in place.

  3. Critter control! I've noticed over the years that animals seem to know when you're gone? Upon returning we've always had issues with finding some of our plants or harvest got eaten. Create an enclosure around your garden with deer fencing. Use animal repellent spray before you leave (follow directions closely to use these barriers safely). Clean your hair brush out in your garden and brush your pets, if you have them, and leave the hair near your garden. This can be picked up upon returning, or it will decompose on its own. This might sound a little strange but ask a neighbor to let their dog do a little business near your garden while you're away. Dogs "mark their territory" to send a signal to others that this is their turf. We used to have a dog and I noticed after she died more and more critters felt comfortable hanging out in our garden.

  4. Don't forget bugs! I'm not going to go into great detail on what you should use because that varies between plants, insects and personal preferences. If needed, be sure to add a little pesticide of your choice before heading out on your adventure.

  5. The previous tips are great for when you're gone for a few days or a week, but what about longer trips? Consider traveling during shoulder season and winter more. For example, we are in growing zone 4. Last year we traveled to Utah in our RV for almost all of May (Image Below). The weather was absolutely amazing! We were back just in time for Memorial Day weekend and in our Zone, many people start planting right after that. The off season might be best for enjoying longer outings.

6. Don't let it go to waste! If you won't be back to harvest your apples, invite your friends and neighbors over to grab them up!

7. Buy seedlings! This isn't exactly a garden while away tip, but it can help you reclaim some time. Starting seeds indoors can take several weeks. If traveling is your jam, consider allowing someone else start your seeds. Seedlings are usually very reasonably priced and for many busy people it's worth it!

As you can see, gardening while you're away not impossible. If you put a few systems in place, you can jet off without too many worries about your fruits and vegetables.

What do you do with your garden before you head out for vacation? We'd love to know! If you liked this post show us a little love and click the heart!


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