Garden Gardening Tips Uncategorized

Vacation? Away on Business? Will You Trust Others to Tend Your Garden?

I just got an email from a friend and reader who plans to be away on vacation for 3 weeks.  She reports that tomatoes are “dripping from my vines” and “I’ll have to pay a neighbor kid to pick them — and  freeze them for me.”

From what readers tell me, it’s not unusual for folks to go away and leave their garden even at the best “gardening” times, so my friend is not in the minority.

In years past,  I made myself make the most of every minute when Bill and I had to be away on business.  I try to enjoy each day no matter what the circumstances.  Life is just too short not to make that effort!

Would I voluntarily go on what folks call a “vacation” and leave my garden?  Not a chance!

Yes, I know, I’m probably not the norm.  But Bill and I spent so many years in poverty and many times without even basic necessities, that a vacation for me is staying home to work, tend, and care for what I have.  I’m so grateful to have things like a decent home, a decent vehicle, hot running water, air conditioning in summer, heat in winter, gas to put in the mower to cut grass, a freezer to keep food in, a washing machine to wash our clothes, and lots of food growing in our garden to feed us. That’s what I call living BIG!

We did without most of those things for close to 3 decades.  Now that we have them, I so enjoy them!  Makes everyday a vacation!

Someone to Watch Our Property

When we had to be away on business, usually it was about a week.  But once a year, we had to be gone 3 weeks.

Fortunately, we had a dear friend whose character was impeccable. We totally trusted her to keep the key to our home and check in on it ever so many days to make sure all was well.  She even checked our phone messages for us, so we wouldn’t miss business while we were away.

Did I ever ask her to do anything in my Garden?  No.

First and foremost I would not have asked this particular friend to use her time that way.  Although my garden is VERY IMPORTANT to me, I find that most people do not consider a garden to be of great importance.  Many folks, maybe you’re one of them, think of a garden as hobby or as something to do.  For us — it very literally sustains our life.

What Happened to my Garden?

  • I never had to worry about weeds, because as you know I mulch and not that many weeds would come up while I was gone.
  • As far as moisture goes, my garden pretty much has to take care of itself all the time since I don’t have the means to water.  So of course, there’s no difference whether I’m home or away.(And by the way, if you do water here’s a tip.  Watch the forecast.  If you think it’ll be too dry while you’re gone, water well until things are soaked.  Your  garden should be just fine until you get back home. And of course, I’m assuming you mulch.)

What About Fruits and Vegetables While I Was Gone?

  • Things that I store by leaving in the ground were fine of course.  (Potatoes, beets, carrots.)
  • I’d pick all small fruits of cucumber, summer squash, beans, that I thought would be mature before I returned.
  • Any peppers that looked as if they’d be red soon, I’d pick.
  • Any tomatoes that looked straw colored rather than really green, I’d pick.  I’d store them in a flat basket inside where I always store my tomatoes, and most would ripen just before or after I got home.
  • If any winter squash had been almost ready I would have picked them.  Otherwise I would have left them on the vine until our return.
  • Things like Kale, lettuce, and other various greens remained unpicked until I got home.
  • Sometimes I missed out on a couple of asparagus spears because they grew up before I got home.

What About Having Someone Freeze Your Produce for You?

I think the majority of folks mean well when they tell you they can do something you ask of them.  Unfortunately, it might not just work out that they’ll do the job exactly as you intended.

That was a lesson Bill and I learned the hard way whenever we wanted to have a product produced.  Everyone was “able” to do the job, UNTIL it came time for the “doing.”  We usually found out after we had spent lots of time and hard earned money, that the person (or company) was not able to do what we wanted.

Because of what we learned in business, we started “watching” for the same tell tale signs in other areas of life.  It seemed to follow the same pattern.

No matter their age, those who have no experience in the task you’re asking them to perform, may need more than just a few minutes of instruction even if you’re thinking “how hard can this be?”  (I’ve made that mistake many times.) It’s best if you can first SEE with your own eyes exactly how they will perform what you are asking them to do – even if they say they’ve had lots of experience.

When it comes to preserving food, being clean and sanitary habits are of the utmost importance.  What you might think of as clean and sanitary may be totally different than some one else.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, my words of warning will alert you to be a bit more cautious than you would have been otherwise.  I hope so.

It’s never a pleasant experience to find out that things were not done according to your wishes.  Especially when it comes to food.  (It’s even worse to never find out.)

Have a WONDERFUL vacation! God willing, I’ll be here waiting for you and enjoying my garden when you get home.


July 15th garden.  And by the way the corn on the left is on my neighbor’s property. The white covering on the right is over the blueberry bushes which are still producing!


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  • It is so discouraging to come home from vacation and find all your hard work gone or destroyed …. we just don’t go on long vacations in the summer! The cost is just too great. Besides, most places are so crowded and busy! Good excuse to save time off for other less busy times of the year! 🙂

  • Hi Theresa,

    Enjoyed these tips for leaving your garden. I’m going on vacation for a week and the most thing I’m concerned about is squash bug eggs. I have removed anywhere from 5 – 7 patches of eggs off of my squash the last 3 days. I kill sometimes 1-2 adults and that is not everyday. So I’ve kept the squash bugs under control and my family is enjoying summer squash. Just a few days ago I sprinkled wood ash on all the plants.

    Any tips on what I can do before I leave so that I don’t come home to a squash bug invasion?

  • Good for you Ann Marie! I too think it would be much more enjoyable to be away at less busy times of the year!

    Thanks Susan, for letting me know you enjoyed the post. (I had a good time writing this one, too.)

    Ladychef, I too would be more concerned about the squash bugs getting a foot hold than anything else going on in the garden.
    As you’ve noted, squash bugs have not been too bad this year. It’s been much easier to keep them under control and I know you don’t want them to take over while you’re gone. (If that happens the price is paid in following years, too.)

    It takes their eggs anywhere from 1 week to 2 weeks to hatch depending on various conditions.

    If you haven’t already thought of it, I recommend doing the mental planning now and be prepared to check your plants IMMEDIATELY when you get back home.

    Search, kill and destroy any adults, newly hatched young, and eggs. Use a hand held mirror if you have to, to check the underside of all the leaves. Also, glance at the tops as well since every once in a while you’ll find eggs there.

    After that initial intense check upon your return home, check twice a day to make sure you get any that were missed.
    Hopefully this strategy will enable you to enjoy your vacation and still continue to enjoy your squash.
    Good Luck!

  • Your garden picture is truly lovely. So inviting. Thank you for a wonderful post.

  • This is helpful Theresa, but I agree it would be best to be around at this time if possible.

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