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Have Your Garden and Travel Too!

I’m going on a trip next week! It’s a big trip; I’m very excited. Lots of new experiences, wonderful things to see, delicious things to eat, relaxation and exploration. I feel very lucky.

And let me just add: it was not my idea to travel in April, and I’m never doing it again. It’s spring! It’s gardening time! There are so many tasks that won’t get done, so many flowers I’ll miss seeing bloom. Being away now throws my schedule off for months. But so it goes: for this year, I have to adapt.

None of us who are able to take vacations want to miss out, but we also want our gardens to keep growing while we can’t care for them. Given that we can’t take the plants along with us, how to cope? Let me toss out some ideas, and you can add your thoughts in comments.


This is the big deal for me, going away in April. I usually have a busy seed-starting calendar, with many shelves of pots and trays all going at once. At the very least, I have to have my baby tomato plants! But not this year. Here’s what you can do if travel gets in the way of starting seeds:


All plants need watering at some point, and unless you only have succulents or a well-established xeriscape, or the weather cooperates perfectly, something will have to be done about water while you’re gone. Especially in the hot summer. Here are some options:


It is no fun to tackle waist-high weeds with jet lag, and your intentional plants won’t thank you for the competition. What can you do?

It’s April, so I’m going with mulch well and pray for rain. I plan to ask one of my fellow community gardeners to check my plot after windy days to make sure the row cover hasn’t blown off, but otherwise I’ll just hope Mother Nature does the watering and my plants survive. It’s always worth checking the home weather report in case a big storm or unexpected drought or deluge indicates an alteration to routine.

Another job to keep in mind if you have a vegetable garden is harvesting. Try to time your crops so the heaviest harvest doesn’t occur while you’re away. Remember that planting can be done over a pretty wide range of dates, so if the harvest is likely to mature in 60 days and you’ll be away for two weeks in July, don’t transplant or start seeds in May; try June instead. For crops that produce over a long period, get a friend to harvest while you’re gone (and maybe also water and weed). Many people will accept tomatoes as wages. Again, leave instructions.

And then there’s the matter of reconciling the travel bug with garden bugs. Pest insects can devastate a crop in a short period of time if not checked. Row covers can work for certain plants, or you can concentrate on growing crops that don’t have many pest issues.

Put your gardens on the travel prep list, and bon voyage! See you when I return – if you’ll be in Montgomery County on Saturday, April 27, please come to our Grow It Eat It Open House. Details here.


By Erica Smith, Montgomery County Master Gardener

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