Waterwise Gardening Tips For The Holidays
How do I keep my plants watered when I am away?
If you know you are going to be away from your plants over holiday times, it is an excellent idea to gradually reduce the amount of water that garden plants are receiving. Most plants are able to adapt to a low water regime provided any reduction is not too sudden. It will reduce the growth rate of the plant but will ensure that the plants survive and will mean a lower water usage in the long term.
Mulching the soil around your plants is an obvious way to conserve moisture, however, the choice of material to use is also an important consideration. The big difference between mulches lies in the rate at which they break down. Materials such as lucerne hay, lawn clippings and animal manures will completely decompose in a matter of months with the resulting organic matter that goes into the soil greatly enhancing the water storing capacity within the root zone. Keep topping up the mulch and you will get full value for every drop of water that enters the soil. Mulches such as woodchip, pine bark and pebbles break down very slowly, if at all. These resistant materials will insulate the topsoil and will reduce water loss but will generally not build up the water storing capacity within the soil.
Potted plants can be grouped into a bath tub, large plastic tubs or a kids paddling pool with a few centimetres of water, to keep them watered for a period. If you have them outdoors, place them under shade to slow down drying out. Mulching the top of the pots with wood chips or pebbles will help slow water loss. You can ask neighbours or family to come in and water if you will be away for extended periods.