Home Page Image

Gardening: A leisure-time activity involving lots of time and little leisure.


From the GTG Garden and Greenhouse

The greenhouse is empty! It's been cleaned and is patiently awaiting the arrival of baby plants in September. I have spend hours looking through catalogs and our orders have been placed for hellebore, echinacea, and iris. There's even a smidgen left in the GTG budget for impulse purchases when we attend the Farwest trade show in August. As always, we are looking forward to bringing THE BEST of the new varieties at value pricing to your garden.

Happy July 4th, Belle
Green Thumbs Galore LLC

At Stake: Vacation Watering

by Dava Stewart

Belle and I both enjoy taking trips. The types of vacations we take are different though, so we face different challenges when it comes to keeping our gardens alive. Between the two of us, we’ve experimented with lots of ways to get our plants watered and thriving while we are out of town. We’ve also both faced the disappointment of coming home to withered, dead plants, too. We put our heads together to come up with a few tips that might help you avoid the same sad situation.

One of the most basic ways to keep your garden alive while you enjoy travel is to do something that is beneficial anyway: mulch. Then, mulch a little more. Mulch helps keep the soil moist, so you don’t have to water quite as often -- and that’s good whether you are at home or not! Besides, mulching builds up the quality of your soil so your garden gets nicer year to year.

I almost always take short trips of a week or less, so I can go with some pretty simple, low-tech methods. To be honest, I usually ask a neighbor to stop by and spray the water hose around once or twice while we are gone (then worry the whole time I’m gone that she really will), but I am eager to try the “coffee can method.”

Take a coffee can and poke some holes in it. Bury the can near the plant you want to keep watered. When I first read about this method, the author had buried one can next to each of his tomato plants. Fill the can with water, and it will seep out slowly, keeping the ground nice and moist.

The size of the can, and the number of holes will depend on how long you plan to be gone, what conditions are like in your area, and what you are watering. If you are going to be gone for several days, you will want a bigger can, for example. If it has been terribly dry, you may want to poke a few extra holes so that more water will seep out.

Using plenty of mulch (and then a little more) and poking holes in cans is just about as low-tech as it gets. Both simple methods will work to keep your plants alive, even if your neighbor fails you.

Self-watering container gardens are pretty neat. I’ve seen several different sets of instructions, but the basic idea is to create a reservoir of water under the soil with a method for the plants to wick up the water. People use all different types of containers, from plastic tubs to five gallon buckets and everything in between, to make self-watering containers.

Another way to keep containers watered is to use an empty two liter bottle, or other plastic container. Similarly to the coffee can method, you poke a few holes in the top of the container, make sure the lid is on good and tight, then flip the thing over, bury the top of it, and you have a super-fancy watering device.

If you want a watering solution that is a little more elegant than “poke some holes in it” you might want to try the plant nanny watering stake. It comes in two models, one that works with plastic bottles, and one that works with wine bottles. Green Thumbs Galore also carries beautiful, hand-blown watering balls in two sizes that add some interest to your container and help keep your soil moist.

One final suggestion for caring for your favorite house plants while on vacation is to put them in the tub. If there are holes in the bottoms of your pots, the tub can serve as a self-watering device. Using the tub makes for easy clean up, too.

For anyone like Belle, though, who enjoys longer trips, and has a sizable garden, a more powerful watering system will be necessary. “More powerful” doesn’t necessarily mean expensive or complicated, though. Just about all hardware stores carry sprinklers with timers built in.

Depending on what you are watering, and how often you travel, you may decide to install a drip irrigation system. Most people who grow plants for a living go with drip irrigation - combined, of course, with plenty of mulch. (We cannot overstress the usefulness and benefits of mulch in the garden!)

Regardless of how you decide to keep your plants happy, invite your friends and neighbors to pick your flowers and produce and, most of all, enjoy your vacation!

July in the Garden:

Plant Nanny for Wine Bottles :
Plant Nanny for water bottles:

Glass Globes: