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 Post subject: Gardens
PostPosted: July 5th, 2020, 12:54 am 
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Joined: March 18th, 2019, 7:54 pm
Posts: 115
Location: Brampton
I'm wondering what people do with their gardens while they're away for weeks at a time. I have a couple of gardens around the house that I've worked very hard to make very fertile. The problem, of course, is that they're very fertile now. I tend to grow herbs and annuals. The herbs in particular can be quite sensitive to a lack or abundance of water and crowding from weeds (mostly nightshade, catnip, grass, dandelions and ragweed here). Things like dill, cilantro, and basil can go to seed quite quickly if you don't tend to them, and flowering annuals dry up quickly. But give too much water to thyme, for example, and it just comes up... bitter.

Every time I'm gone for a week or two, I come back and these gardens are... weed beds, more than gardens. I'll be gone for three weeks shortly and I'm wondering if anyone has any pointers on how to keep them watered, and any ideas on how to keep the weeds down for a few weeks. I do hate dealing with wood chips and landscape fabric.

Has anyone used any kind of automatic watering systems while away, or covered up parts of the garden with plywood to keep the weeds down, or anything like that? Trusted a black-thumbed neighbour or significant other to it?

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 Post subject: Re: Gardens
PostPosted: July 5th, 2020, 9:29 am 
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Joined: December 29th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 6235
Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
Three weeks is a long time to be away from a garden, esp with this drought going on. My neighbors are too busy to plant and maintain their garden, so they entered into some kind of agreement with a florist... the florist plants annuals and perennials and harvests for flower sales regularly in return for keeping the ground free of weeds. At some point I guess the agreement will end and the neighbors will start using it full-time.This has been going on for several years now, the garden's been kept from becoming a jungle. IIRC they found the florist over the internet, where the florist was looking for unused garden space.

There are pro gardeners running around from property to property maintaining them but probably expensive.

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 Post subject: Re: Gardens
PostPosted: July 5th, 2020, 12:12 pm 
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Joined: June 28th, 2008, 2:06 pm
Posts: 351
Location: GTA
I don't know how to help you with the weeds, but for watering I use digital water timers that you can get at Canadian Tire (or wherever). My yard has half a dozen hose bibs installed outdoors, so I can control the water in different places at different times with different timers, but I don't water everything. Right now the tomatoes in pots in the greenhouse get watered twice daily (drip line) for about 10 minutes each time, the rhododendrons get watered once daily (soaker hose) for about 10 minutes, and various flowers are on another timer (buried drip hose) and they get watered once every couple days for about 10 minutes. I could set up more to water tomatoes, peppers, kale, leeks, basil, pumpkins, chard, zuchinni, rhubarb, raspberries, grapes, pears, et cetera, but I generally water those by hand only when they really need it. (Or set up a sprinkler or a temporary drip line for them if they really need it.)

When I'm away on trips the automatic watering continues and generally the things that aren't watered survive. (Probably not optimally, but they survive.)

If you have less hose bibs, you can get digital timers with four (and maybe six) valves that connect to a single hose bib. You can then run hoses around the yard to different areas and set it up to water different things from the same hose bib at different times. For example, you might have a sprinkler going for your dill and cliantro every day for 15 minutes, then another valve opens every fourth day for 10 minutes for a different sprinkler on your thyme. The downside of using a single hose bib is that the pressure for all the different sprinkers/lines will be the same when the electric valves open. So although you might need a higher pressure for your larger dill garden, you might water well outside of your smaller thyme garden if you're using identical sprinklers attached to two different hoses and two different electric valves on the same hose bib.

For cilantro and dill I do multiple plantings a year so if they're bolting or going to seed, there's some new crop coming soon. You might consider planting some cilantro and dill before you go and water it well, then when you get back it might be just about edible.


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 Post subject: Re: Gardens
PostPosted: July 6th, 2020, 10:52 am 
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Joined: December 19th, 2006, 8:47 pm
Posts: 9050
Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
Neighbors. We have some stuff on automatic watering ( the tomatoes) but flowers and herbs are mostly in containers. Three weeks without water would kill everything ( and we have not had much rain since it stopped snowing finally in May. Our yard has the same composition as an Algonquin campsite and the deck has the only sun.
We have 2 acres of maple and oak and pine.. a thousand trees. It would cost a small fortune to have some of it logged.

So we are faux gardeners.

Good thread. I have to get my waterers lined up. Going on a canoe trip.


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 Post subject: Re: Gardens
PostPosted: July 6th, 2020, 11:37 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2020, 10:48 am
Posts: 4
I'm lucky to have a neighbour to help with watering, and I generally just weed for a couple hours upon return.

To temporarily keep weeds down you could try newspaper or cardboard. They might not work 100% but they will certainly inhibit weed growth.

However, another solution would be to pay a trustworthy neighborhood kid to water/weed while you're gone. I know when I was in highschool I made most of my spending money in the summer by taking care of people's gardens/lawns while they were on vacation.


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 Post subject: Re: Gardens
PostPosted: July 6th, 2020, 11:56 am 
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Joined: September 21st, 2006, 8:41 pm
Posts: 165
Location: Southern Ontario
I went through this every year while planning vacations away from home. My wife is an avid gardener with all types and styles of flowers as well as veggie garden. For years i just used a 2x12x12 on cinder blocks spread across one section of my fence line that my in-ground sprinkler could water when it was sweeping the lawn. This worked great, but was a pain having to lift down/up all the hanging baskets and moving big potters to get them all in line with the sprinkler (if you have an in-ground, otherwise a regular sprinkler head on a timer will work too) or I just paid a neighbors kids $100 for a week to water them once per day, but they still killed a few off each time. Now I just installed a drip system that comes on 2x per day and its great. Lee Valley has the entire system all mapped out. Fast and affordable and works great, takes a few hours to set it all up.

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