Carol Siddall, Master Gardener
There are probably very few people that love to travel more than I do. In fact my family says my middle name should be "Go". I do love to travel, but I love my yard and garden also.
You might have to bury me if I came home to a brown and dying yard! But, I am blessed to have a neighbor and former Master Gardener that takes care of my yard while we are gone. I do not worry when we go away as I know Don is taking care of things. It wasn't always like that for me as it isn't that way for many people. A week or two without the usual TLC can leave your plants feeling dry and wilted, vulnerable to all sorts of critters and ailments. But your time away doesn't have to mean doom for your garden and yard. Here are some tips to help your garden while you are away.
PUT IN AN IRRIGATION SYSTEM. Here in West Texas the biggest problem for your garden is getting enough water. One answer is to install drip irrigation in all your beds and pots. I do not have this in all my beds, but I do have a sprinkler system that has low spray, and it is set to come on at 3:00 in the morning, two days a week. I keep filled gallon jugs out front filled with rain water, so Don can water my pot plants with that. I should have drip on all my pot plants, but I have way too many to do that with. If you have just a few, this is an excellent idea and help when you are away. Soaker hoses are another possibility, but not as efficient. Plus, the squirrels seem to like to chew on them if they can find them. Whatever system you use, put them on timers. This is a time saver even when you are home, and when you are away it is WONDERFUL!
ADD MULCH. Putting mulch in your beds will help retain moisture. The mulch puts a barrier between the soil and the hot air. Mulch also aids in keeping weeds under control. If you haven't mulched this growing season, do so before you head out on your vacation. You can use what you have or what you like the looks of. The Time Machine in Odessa has had some wonderful mulch, free for the taking. I haven't been by there recently, so do not know how their supply is at the moment.
ASK A FRIEND, NEIGHBOR, OR FAMILY MEMBER TO HELP. It is much safer if you have someone that can come and check on things while you are gone. If you are growing veggies, let them have what they want out of your garden. When we had a large vegetable garden, that is what we did. They helped with watering, weeding, and picking, and they got to take home all they wanted. If you are having someone take care of your yard while you are gone, make sure they come over and see where everything is and what they need to do before you leave.
FERTILIZE. It will help if you will give your garden some food before you leave. You can use liquid fertilizer or a granular fertilizer. (I usually use the latter.) Be sure to follow application directions, as you don't want it to burn your plants.
LEAVE YOUR GARDEN IN GOOD SHAPE. I always try to leave my yard in good shape before I go. I deadhead, check for insects like aphids, white fly, etc. I will spray with soapy water, or an insecticidal soap. I try to stay away from insecticides, but sometimes that is what it takes. Pull weeds. This is one of the biggest helps for when you return. If you have mulch down, you will not have that many weeds to contend with.
ENJOY YOUR VACATION. Everyone needs time away, and there is so much in this country and world to see. We should do it! And then to return to a garden that is alive and prospering is an added blessing.
As always, feel free to call the AgriLife office for help with any questions you may have. Ector is 432-498-4071. Midland is 432-686-4700.
Happy Trip and Happy Return!!