The summer for us is a constant to-ing and fro-ing of visiting family and friends and having them to stay with us so everything, except the essentials, goes by the board. Not just in doors but outside in the garden. So what are the key things to ensure that the garden doesn’t descend into utter chaos?
Mow the lawn
Mow the lawn before you go away and first thing when you return. If you’ve got a Robomow (the most useful piece of kit I have) you can set it to mow while you’re away. Otherwise a quick blast of the old mower is well worth the time spent.
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Trim the grass
Trim the grass around the edges of flower beds. I use long handled shears and it takes me less than five minutes to whip roughly around the edges. Nothing fancy, just enough to keep the plantains, couch grass and dandelions and buttercups from creeping into the beds from where they’re sneak under the leaves and thrive, hidden from sight.
Pull up self-seeders
Anything you don’t actively want to self seed needs to be yanked out. Before going away I tugged up all our poppies bar two – plenty enough to provide seedlings for next summer.
I didn’t do this last year. Big mistake. We returned in mid summer to find a cabbage white butterfly nursery where once we had kale. This year I invested in posh butterfly netting from Harrodhorticultural. They cut it to fit and instead of requiring a full half hour of faffing and cussing (which is what happens when you try to use cheap nets) we managed to spread and secure the net in five minutes.
Tie in everything that needs tying in – tomatoes, beans, sweet peas.
Pick sweet peas
Pick sweet peas - the more you pick the more flowers will come.
Read our guide to growing sweet peas
Weed what you can. Little and often is often the best that way you won’t even notice you’re doing it. If possible weed after its rained – the roots come away so easily and the job takes half the time.
Feed before you go – tomatoes and anything in a pot.
Arrange a neighbourly visit
Ask a neighbour to pop in and water the pots – write them a list (or they’ll forget the basil on the windowsill.)
Read our guide to container plant holiday care
And remember to eat what needs eating – or, like me, you’ll come home to radishes the size of beets. (Actually, these were deliciously crunchy and not too hot sliced finely into salads.)
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