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Gardeners Should Not Go On Vacation

September 9th, 2011

If you’re a gardener, you should not go on vacation for most of the month of August! It wasn’t that I particularly wanted to go on vacation in August, but it worked best for our schedule and our friends who met us in Seattle. I buttoned up the garden as best I could before we left, making sure to pull all weeds and water everything before we left. We set off and I hoped for the best. We paid the boys from the farm where we get our milk to come feed our cats and to water the potted plants. They did a great job, the cats were well fed and the potted plants were all thriving when we got home.

The edible gardens were also doing well, the tomato vines were heavy with ripe fruit. The boys picked tomatoes and peppers while we were gone to keep the plants from ceasing production (one of them is a salsa maker so he was happy with the different kinds of peppers I had in the garden). They gave me an in depth update about all the things they’d spotted in the garden while I was gone: pumpkins, watermelons, leeks, etc.

The weeds thrived while we were gone and the garden was overgrown when we arrived home. I’ve only had time to spend one evening in the garden weeding since we got home, I’ve been busy catching up on work (on of the bad parts of being self-employed). One evening I was able to spend 2 hours with Mr Chiots joining me for one of those hours.

Between us we pulled five wheelbarrow loads full of weeds from the new garden area up front (the asparagus bed lined with boxwood). Since this is a new garden area this year, it has more weeds than other areas of the garden that are more established. I have found in my few years of gardening that if you are diligent about pulling weeds in new garden areas, eventually you’ll exhaust a lot of the seed bank and you’ll have fewer and fewer weeds each year. My established beds only had a few weeds in them, the new garden areas were a mess!

Many of the weeds were starting to set seed, which is not a good thing. I always try to pull weeds before they produce seeds. There are still tons of weeds in the garden and the new edible garden on the new lot still needs weeded. No doubt it will take me a few weeks to get things back under control.

Do you have someone tend the garden while you’re away on vacation or do you leave it to it’s own devices?

19 Comments to “Gardeners Should Not Go On Vacation”
  1. Sue on September 9, 2011 at 4:53 am

    I haven’t had a vacation during the summer in 4 years. The Garden is now boss ! Seems there is always something due each month-strawberries in June, Raspberries in July, EVERYTHING in August and Grapes and Apples in September. But believe me, the SECOND I’m done preserving all this, I am so outta here!

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  2. kristin @ going country on September 9, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I was expecting a post like this, given my own experience leaving my garden for only a week. And with the MiL at home to at least make sure things are watered.

    That trip was in early July, though, in the period when planting is done and the serious harvesting hasn’t begun. I can’t imagine leaving the garden for the entire month of August. Worse than kids, those gardens.

    My garden right now is probably as weedy as yours was after being neglected for three weeks. The drought in July caused the edible plants to stop growing, but the weeds never did. So now that we’re getting rain and I’ve got all I can do to just keep up with the harvests . . . well, it’s pretty ugly out there.


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  3. WendyM on September 9, 2011 at 7:28 am

    I had to go on vacations in August this year for a whole month. I did not want to but that was the only option. I asked a friend to water and pick the tomatoes (she did) but she did not have to water even once because it rained at least twice per week in Massachusetts. It tested the resilience of my plants (I attribute this to mycorrhizae and good soil). But besides the tomatoes, corn, carrots, herbs and potatoes… I lost most of my beans, broccoli and peppers to wildlife. And like you, I will be pulling out weeds for days to clean up the new garden spaces. I am actually surprised that the plants are so green still with a second flush of tomatoes and peppers after all this time. Now I am planning to plant garlic and shallots and playing with an idea for a small area with a coldframe for lettuces. Good luck with your cleanup!

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  4. farmgal on September 9, 2011 at 7:54 am

    I hear you, I went one time to help my mom for a couple weeks and wow, did the garden get behind, with hubby working full-time plus the farm plus the harvest, the weeds were out of control!, and then some.

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  5. Melissa on September 9, 2011 at 7:56 am

    I always worry about my garden when I’m away. I usually leave a sprinkler on a timer to water it since I don’t have any other method of irrigation installed. I tell friends to come harvest it, but they usually forget!

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  6. Janet at Planticru Notes on September 9, 2011 at 8:25 am

    We rarely go on holiday when the garden is in full flow. We went away for a few days in April.That happened to coincide with a mini heatwave and the green house and all the seedlings would have died. Fortunately our wonderful neighbour who looks after the hens and the cats when we’re away thought she better open the door and water!
    Sometimes it’s a surprise how much things have grown after a week or two away. Your crops look brilliant. My sympathy for all the weed clearing.
    It’s not much fun going away in the middle of winter unless we’re going to the southern hemisphere. The ideal would be to get a gardening friend to house sit then I could go with no worries!

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  7. Jaye Whitney on September 9, 2011 at 9:10 am

    I totally agree with your post!!!

    I think that one just has to ‘give it up’ when planning a vacation and expect to find exactly what you did upon your return. I have my kids (grown) watch for me, and it’s simply not the same. Of course, you couldn’t pay someone enough to do all of the things required in a garden.

    The garden is like a baby, constant care, coddling and attention required!

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  8. risa on September 9, 2011 at 9:16 am


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  9. MAYBELLINE on September 9, 2011 at 10:22 am

    I never go on vacation.

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  10. goatpod2 on September 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

    We don’t usually have anyone to watch our garden while we’re gone but we usually pick stuff that needs to be picked before going on vacation anyways though. We usually line up someone to take care of our animals for us though which they’re all outside or in our barns.


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  11. Grace on September 9, 2011 at 11:02 am

    “One year’s seeds, seven years’ weeds.”! I learned this lesson this summer too in mid July to start of August. The weeds were as tall as some of vegetable plants (those that didn’t get eaten by the woodchuck.i hope you enjoyed your vacation though!

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  12. Val on September 9, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Luckily I have a neighbor who waters for me, and with raised beds and lots of mulch, I don’t have to worry about weeds too much. For my August vacation, I took what I could on the plane, and I only missed some okra that got too large. During my May vacation, I missed a lot of strawberries!

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  13. melissa on September 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    holy geez that is a nice cherry tomato crop! I wish I had that problem.

    I don’t know if you have any, but I would love to see some pictures of the inside of your tiny trailer. I have never been on any kind of camping trip and would love to get a better idea of how you slept and ate and such (was there a place to bathe??) on your trip.

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  14. Sincerely, Emily on September 9, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Your garden looks to have done pretty well in your absence. I did go on vacation recently, but with no rain here, I didn’t have much out there growing to begin with. I normally try to go in the winter months, in April or the end of July when we are between seasons. After seeds are planted is a good time too and have someone water them. I always hire some neighborhood girls to water if I have to go somewhere. I hope your plants continue to produce for a while and you find the time to get at everything. I know you will. Emily

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  15. daisy on September 9, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    I just blogged about this! We came home to a yard full of weeds. It’s not like you ever catch up though, they just keep-a-comin’! Glad you had a productive weeding session.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  16. KimH on September 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I usually dont go on vacation from July to October which is when the yard explodes. Haha.. I wasnt on vacation this past week & I have tomatoes out there rotting on the vine right now. :( Hopefully I’ll find an hour to get it cleaned up this weekend..

    Back when I had large gardens, I would gather grass clippings and put it on my garden beds and didnt have to deal with very many weeds ever. It was the best method I’ve found to resist weeds.

    Love the kitty in the thyme or whatever it is.. Its too cute!

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  17. alison@thisbloominglife on September 10, 2011 at 7:39 am

    We’ve worn out all our friends. Not just the garden but the old dogs, old cats, chooks, ducks, cows. Apparently everyone else thinks our life is hard work. I think it’s lovely!

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  18. Mich on September 11, 2011 at 6:13 am

    lol…I havent been away since 2004 (yikes) so leaving the garden hasnt really been an issue!

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  19. Lisa and Robb on September 11, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    Kitty is adorable.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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