Friday, 17 May 2013

Holiday preparations

It is 4.20 am and I am still up and working on Canadian time.  Just a couple of weeks and a few thousand miles and my body clock is shot....  might as well use the time productively!

As I said we have just got back from a trip to visit family in Canada so I thought I'd show you what we do about the garden while we are away.  Anyone who is a serious gardener just doesn't go away from April through September as there is always something which won't wait more than a couple of days.   Even this early into the season I had stuff in the greenhouse that I worried about - I lost a load last year with just a couple of days heat.

We have an automatically timed watering system for the whole garden front and back.  Generally we have to have heat wave conditions for us to turn on the General borders system but it very useful for patio pots and was a godsend when I had the veggie plots at home.  Even when we are here it saves having to do the watering and it is easy to turn it off or on depending on the weather.  Right now for example there is no point in it being on as we are getting so much rain.  These systems can have a rain control added to them which will even do that for you.  Ours is pretty crude but effective.

This is where it all starts.  We have another outside tap on the side of the house and a similar system set up for the front garden.  

Basically it is a battery operated timer which opens and closes valves according to how you set it.  We have divided the water outlet into two so we can attach a hose (long or short) for any other jobs we want to do.   If you look where the trellis is you can see another division.  Each of these can be turned on or off independently of the other so we can water the four main beds or the patio area and pots or have them both on for the whole garden.  It is at least a couple of years since that happened!

This is how it is in the garden.  It is actually invisible in the mature beds; this is the brand new one so you can still see the pipes and the sprinklers.  We use different kinds of heads in different places.

This new space can use the tall sprinkler heads well as there is not much vegetation in the way.

This is how we get water to the boxes and pots on the patio.  The main pipe runs along the foot of the box hedge and has a series of pipes running from it to pots.  The main pipe has dribblers set in it to water the box hedge.  It needs doing as often as the pots as it grows against concrete and competes with a lawn.

This system continues into the roses and lavender squares and on into the arched entrance to the utility area.  As I said this is the most used part of the system.

I do have a few pots not on lines that I move around as I change the planting in them through the year. I have to hand water them now and then but I quite like having a reason to go out into the garden most days for a bit of a mooch around as long as it doesn't involve too much work.

These peripatetic pots come round the side of the house when we go away and are put on temporary lines using Hozelock Aqua pods.

These pods also deliver water to the plants in the greenhouse.

Such a critical time to leave seedlings.

Even the hanging baskets have water delivered.  Again this is brilliant in the summer when the proper ones are in place.  Those big overplanted baskets need watering every day which can be a pain.  The rain doesn't really reach them under the eaves.

Another thing I sometimes forget to do is to open and close the greenhouse door according to how hot/cold it is so, a couple of days before we left, I broke down and bought an automatic vent (£24 from B & Q).  It may well save more than it cost over a couple of years of occasionally frying plants as I have done in the past.  We had just one day to check it was working before we left so prayed for sunshine.  It was duly delivered and the vent opened.  Brilliant.

I am overjoyed to say that after all this shuffling stuff around everything survived without me; even the babies in the greenhouse.  

If you look at the greenhouse photo which was taken the day before we left - the pea shoots (front tray on the right) are now very close to being harvested.  Tomatoes (right hand half of the tray behind) not even visible before we went are now at their two leaf stage.  The courgettes (left hand half of that tray) just poking through the soil in that photo are now fully formed plants and will  be planted out in the next couple of days.  The runner beans (the pots in the green tray on the left) hadn't even broken the top of the soil when we left and are now planted out in the lotty.   You can see they all made stonking progress in two weeks with warmth through the glass and regular watering.

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