As this is the last Friday before the end, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about preparing the garden for the holidays. If you are going away or just know you won’t have as much time for the garden because of all the festive preparations that become all consuming at this time of year, there are some things you can do to ensure your garden copes without you for a bit.
WEED – As well as trying to keep on top of them as part of a good routine, before you have to temporarily abandon the garden do a thorough weeding – remove every single one – even the tiny ones as they can grow quickly at this time of year. If you haven’t already then pop down a good thick mulch. Weeds can easily take over from the vegies as the dominant plants at this time of year and reduce the airflow around your plants increasing the risk of fungal disease. Reducing the risk of fungal disease is especially important this year as La Nina is supposed to increase humidity!
WATERING – Without water the garden will die so it is very important to have a plan in place to make sure the garden gets the moisture it needs. An irrigation system on a timer can give great piece of mind and the components of a simple irrigation system don’t actually cost that much and they are super easy to install. Other than that, a sprinkler on a tap timer will work or ask a friend or neighbour to water for you. Make sure it is someone you can trust to do a good job, although no one will take care of the garden the same way you do. A good mulch will also help lock in moisture.
HARVEST - Before you go, do a hard pick of everything, everything that is on the edge of just about ready – including tomatoes with the first blush of red, they’ll ripen on a windowsill. Then organise for someone to do some harvesting while you are away so nothing is wasted. Once again make sure it is someone you trust so you don’t come back and find all your beetroot and carrots gone. (These will generally wait quite happily for you to come back.) I find most people will just take what they need, and don’t quite understand the ‘more you pick the more you get’ rule with things like peas and beans and you may come home to several marrows. But at least things aren’t going to waste.
FEED – Well fed plants are healthy plants so a side dressing of a slow-release fertiliser or a liquid feed will give your plants a pick me up to get them through your absence and should be able to fend of pests and diseases easily or at the very least help to reduce the severity of any attacks.
PEST & DISEASE - Check your garden thoroughly. Even if you just see the hint of a problem – deal with it straight away. A quick spray with pesticide or insecticide that will nip any problems in the bud. One aphid before you go will build up to populations big enough to suck the life out of your plants. My biggest problem over the summer is the Tomato Potato Psyllid sneaks in while I’m away and gets to an uncontrollable situation. This year I have insect net over the lot. This year I will have a glut of tomatoes!
MAINTENANCE - Check your stakes and structures to make sure they are still strong and sturdy. There is nothing more upsetting than coming home to snapped stakes and tomato plants on the ground (experience speaking) Tie in any plants that need it, nip off any laterals. Remove some lower leaves to increase air flow. Tidy up around the garden and put tools away and if necessary, lock the tool shed. If the weather whips up and sends a storm over the break it is comforting to know everything is tied in, secure and damage is minimised.
MOW – It doesn’t take long for unmown grass to set seed and you really don’t want the seeds blowing into your garden. So, give the lawn a good mow to reduce the risk and you will be less likely to come home to a meadow.
Sorry, this is a bit long again….
In my garden I am feeding my plants once a fortnight with either Thrive Natural Fish & Seaweed+ Plant Food Concentrate or Yates Thrive Fish Blood & Bone Plant Food Concentrate to give the variety of nutrients both feeds offer. But my tomatoes and peppers get Thrive Natural Tomato & Vegie Plant Food Concentrate, and the berries get Thrive Strawberry & Berry Fruit Liquid Plant Food.
I hope you find this helpful.
Happy gardening and as always – if you want to get in touch leave a comment below.
Sarah the Gardener : o)