Last year at our garden-to-table dinner party, a guest asked me, “Who babysits your garden when you travel?” I immediately replied, “Why, any takers?!” Well, no one volunteered, and I get it: our garden can be a little intimidating. 

As you’re planning summer getaways, your garden might slip your mind. If you can find a garden-sitter, by all means, do it! You can share the gift of gardening, and allow a neighbor or friend to enjoy any fruits of their labor while you are gone. 

However, if you’re in a pickle and can’t find any one, or if you’re like me and none of your friends are quite prepared to take on your garden,  I’ve got a few tips & tricks you can utilize to keep your garden healthy and thriving while you’re out of town.

Number One Tip: Check the forecast before you leave! This will help inform you what steps you need to take to prepare your garden.

Watering

・ One option is adding drip irrigation with a timer. While this will ensure your plants are hydrated exactly when you want, the downside is that you will have to leave your water on while you are out of town.

・ Water deep a few days before leaving, and then use leaf mulch to lock in the moisture if you desire.

・ Use olla irrigation. Ollas are clay vessels you can place in your garden that slowly disperse water. You can read more about them here, or explore other DIY watering systems (Pinterest is a great resource for this!)

Sun Exposure

・ Add a shade cloth over garden beds to cut the sun if you are in the height of summer.

・ Grow in pots? Move them to a partly shaded area and place them in a kids plastic pool with several inches of water in it to allow the plants to pull as needed. And/or, position a patio umbrella over them.  

Pests

・ Before you leave, inspect for pests to assess the situation. Use Arber’s bioprotectant to be proactive.

・ Harvest heavily before you leave. Any ripe produce that is left in the garden is sure to attract pests, as well as putting a burden on the plant itself. Plus, no one wants to come home to rotting veggies!

・ Add a hummingbird feeder to your garden. Besides the joy of seeing these guys zipping around your garden, they eat aphids, gnats, and flies, keeping them away from your plants.

One of my favorite parts of gardening is that you never stop learning, either through trial and error or from communicating with fellow gardeners. So, have you experimented with any other tricks or hacks for keeping your garden healthy while you’re out of town? Share them with me in the comments!