8 Tips to Holiday-proof Your Garden!

8 Tips to Holiday-proof Your Garden

It’s just not fair our southern hemisphere Christmas coincides with the height of garden growth. But even gardeners deserve a break, so if you’re heading away over the festive season, holiday-proof your edible beds with these handy tips:

Pick and pack

Nurturing mature fruits and pods takes a lot of ‘oomph’ out of your plants. To keep zucchini bushes, peas, beans, tomato, and cucumber vines in tip-top condition while you’re away on holiday, harvest everything that’s edible before you leave. You can either take it with you, or blanch and freeze it.

Protect that produce

Birds, cats, and wild rabbits are likely to be much less of a problem when you’re at home, there’s noise and movement to deter them. But when your house is empty, they’ll soon make themselves at home in your garden. Before you leave for your break, net and fence your edibles to keep them out of harm’s way.

Offer support

One of the greatest dangers in the summer garden is fungal disease, and it rears its ugly head when rampant growth flops over on itself, to create a damp environment of tangled foliage. Before leaving on your break, secure or cage vines in the greenhouse and the garden, and stake any succulent-stemmed edibles (such as broadbeans). If your garden is exposed, you may also need to stake the tallest edibles, such as corn, quinoa, and globe artichokes.

Whack those weeds!

Weeds aren’t always a problem in themselves. Some, such as clover, act as a nitrogen-rich, living mulch, while others, such as nettle, are a sought-after ingredient in liquid fertilizer. But in the heat of summer, when you’re not at home to keep a watch, weeds quickly develop seed heads, and spread their progeny far and wide. If there’s no time to weed before you leave on your break, snip these plants low with shears, and mulch over them. By the time you get home, they’ll be much easier to pull.

Deep water

Watering the edible garden is an art – and if it’s not carried out correctly, you may come home to a sad state of affairs. To avoid the risk of garden ‘caretakers’ getting things wrong, water deeply before you leave, then mulch thickly around your plants. In most cases, if you’re going away for less than a week, this will lock in the moisture until you return. If you’re away for more than a week, consider installing drip line irrigation (never overhead sprinklers, which only encourages fungal disease). If relying on a neighbour, implore them to water around the base of plants, not over the top of foliage.

Slow down

If you’re concerned your leafy greens (such as lettuce and spinach) will mature before you return home, erect shade cloth over them to slow down their growth. To do this, bend willow wands, number 8 wire, or lengths of polythene pipe, into hoops. Push the ends into the ground, and cover the structure with shade cloth held down at the edges with brick or rocks.

Pick me!

If you’re going on an extended break, keep your edibles producing by inviting friends and neighbours to help themselves to fruiting vegetables such as squash, tomatoes, aubergine, and capsicum. If left unchecked, these plants will concentrate on maturing a few fruit (in order to set seed) rather than producing more of the goodies you want to come home to.

Taken as ‘red’

While green berries don’t attract the attention of our feathered friends, the moment these edibles turn red, they are fair game. Check the garden before you leave, and net berries that may start to ripen in your absence. Hold down the edges of net with short hoops of number 8 wire pressed into the ground. This will protect your crop and also prevent birds becoming entangled.

You can have a holiday and an edible garden – it just takes a little preparation!

Read some of our other tips here