Many of us will be going on holiday for a week or two at this time of the year. We won’t be around to look after our plants so we have to arrange for alternative methods. Asking a neighbour to water your plants is of course the first idea that springs to mind, but when you return and see them a few days later, they might tell you, “Oh! we found a cheap cottage in the country so we went away for the week!” without any feeling of guilt towards your parched plants. So let me give you a few ideas how your plants will manage on their own in your absence.
We must understand that we don’t really mind if the plants just tick over in our absence even though they will not be actively growing and putting on rapid growth or thriving in our absence, as long as there will not be any considerable check to growth, or total casualties it is tolerable. For this reason, in most parts of the UK, plants outside will not suffer from being neglected for a week or two. The UK is blessed with rain every few days, and because the moisture in the earth is so high it will sustain most plant even if it doesn’t actually rain.
Tips for Maintaining your Greenhouse Plants Whilst on Holiday
If we could recreate the moist soil garden conditions in the greenhouse, this would be ideal – but automated watering systems can be costly and complicated (apart from ruining the fun during the rest of the year when you want to water the plants yourself!)
For this reason, I plant all annual vegetable plants in my greenhouse in bottomless pots. Now there is always an option of planting in the border soil, but to prevent a build up of viruses and diseases you would have to change the soil annually which is not usually practical. Instead I plant in bottomless pots, which I refill with a mixture of home made compost, bought compost, and farmyard manure , as I am only filling the pots and not changing the whole border soil, the job is much easier and cheaper. Garden centres sell some sort of plant pot circles for ‘ring culture’ but they just about last one season, instead, try to obtain some plastic pots and cut off their bottoms and they last forever. A good source is any florist, as many of their cut flowers are delivered in black pots and they have no need for them- if they do recycle them for their own use, I am sure they will be happy to give you the ones that have holes or are cracked in and do not hold water!
This is obviously an idea for next year – for this year let us advise something else. If you have specialist plants in pots, capillary matting is a good investment, just make sure that the mat is totally saturated with water and the reservoir is full before you leave.
Now how about a few non conventional ideas, – what about putting a physical barrier to stop the sun shining on your plants whilst you are away. A black dustbin bag stretched over the main south facing side of your greenhouse should do the trick. (Sellotape will stick to the glass easier than to the metal bars, and is easily removed on your return.) This is much easier than applying a cool glass paint and removing it later in the season.
Another option is to remove or to lower a pane of glass, preferably one of the higher ones as heat rises and will escape through the top of the greenhouse, this will also encourage airflow which helps keep pests like whitefly away. If you remove one of the panes of glass on the top of the greenhouse you have the added possibility of it raining into your greenhouse in your absence.
As an afterthought, when we go on holiday, we pay for a kennel to look after the dog, a cattery to look after the cat, so why should we not pay for someone to look after and water our plants? Or even better, put an advert in the local paper “we will look after your plants for a small charge whilst you are on holiday”, and with the extra money you earn treat yourself to a more luxurious holiday in September!
Warning! DO NOT BUY:
Some supermarkets are now selling a new stock of bedding plants. Before buying I would make a serious calculation. – It is now the first week in August and these plants are so small it will take about 6 weeks before they flower. How many weeks of pleasure (if any), will we get out of them before they are killed by the first frosts???
Tips to ensure this years apple crop is the best ever.
Have an enjoyable gardening week!