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  • Writer's pictureJulia Watson

The Gardener's Vacation

On vacation in Ireland

We were on vacation last week, so I didn’t post. It’s hard for the gardener to take a vacation. Plants don’t know that you need time off – they keep on growing and demanding water and food. The weather doesn’t cooperate either – no vacations from frost, high winds or killing heat. It’s the same for farmers, or any profession where constant vigilance is part of the job.

The solution is hiring help and timing our vacations. We never plan a trip during our big seed germination time in early spring. Ditto for our bulb planting drive between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But in early summer we have a window of slack time, and there are other small opportunities in fall and late winter. If you’re a gardener or a flower farmer, you need to find those natural breaks.

The best times for vacation will vary depending on where you live and your growing zone. If you’re in a cold weather zone such as USDA zone 5, you can presumably slip away in winter when it’s snowing. Hawaii anyone? Here in zone 9 we barely get a killing frost, so plants have to be watched all winter, but many are partially dormant and our winter rains keep them watered.

When I was a home gardener, I usually had some miscellaneous things in pots that hadn’t been planted yet or weren’t on drip watering lines. That was just me being sloppy and behind in my work. I often hired my grandchildren to deadhead or check on watering.

Clockwise from top left: Don installs drip irrigation lines; straw flowers are hardy annuals that don't need too much attention; zinnias grow fast in summer but aren't demanding; a surplus of snapdragons when we get home!

When Don and I started Tiny Footprint Flowers, we got more serious about the garden, or should I say the flower farm. Now we have our watering on timers, so we don’t need to worry about that. During our most recent vacation, I didn’t need to hire anyone! I knew that Don had checked all the watering before we left, and I had planted everything that needed to be planted. Hallelujah! It was delightful to have no worries about our flowers, and a joy to come home because I was reasonably sure that the only surprises would be a surfeit of blooms.

Don't let the weeds take over while you're gone. This morning glory nearly swallowed a chair!

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