With summer vacations in full swing, homeowners planning trips must remember to stop their newspaper and mail delivery as well as plan for home security while they’re away.

And don’t forget the garden!

After all that work planting and tending to a garden, vacationers don’t want to return home to find their plants are brown and withered. So take time to prepare the garden before making that trip.

Ellen Ulmer, Fayette County Master Gardener coordinator, offered some suggestions.

For the flowers:

“First thing, before you leave, is dead head your flowers,’’ said Ulmer, referring to the practice of removing dead or faded flowers to improve a plant’s growth. “And clip anything that’s blooming so it doesn’t go to seed. You’ll encourage more blooming if they don’t go to seed.’’

Dead blooms should be removed by cutting or pinching the stem below them.

For produce:

“Pick any fruits or vegetables that are on the vines,’’ said Ulmer. “Use them, freeze them or give them away.’’

For all plants:

“Pull weeds. Do it before you go so it won’t be so bad when you get home,’’ Ulmer said.

For container plants:

“If you have plants in containers or planters, they require more care because they dry out faster,’’ noted Ulmer. “Some people drop their containers into the ground to keep them from drying out. It depends on what you have – clay pots you can actually drop into the ground. But soak all containers. Water them completely, maybe set them on a tray of water. Move them to the shade so they don’t dry out so fast.’’

Hanging baskets?

“Same thing. They have to be soaked – some have a tray on the bottom,’’ noted Ulmer.

But since they dry out faster, Ulmer added, “I’d say if you have containers, you have to have someone come and water them while you’re gone unless you’re sure it’s going to rain.’’

There are tricks to help with watering an in-ground garden. Ulmer talked about olla.

“It’s a round, clay pot you fill with water and set in the dirt. Bury it with your plants and the water will wick out of it and water your plants,’’ said Ulmer. “It’s tricky because you have to make sure the soil around it is moist and it takes up room where your plants are.’’

“Have irrigation – if you have a drip hose, have it on a timer,’’ suggested Ulmer.

For the lawn:

“Mow your lawn but not too short because you don’t want it to dry out. If the forecast is for dry weather, don’t cut it too short,’’ said Ulmer. “Edge it if possible – trim the edges. Most people don’t do it when they’re going on vacation because they have other stuff to do, but it’s really important.’’

And, perhaps, a vacation is a good time to find a garden buddy.

“The best thing is to have somebody come by and water your plants and take care of them,’’ said Ulmer, “because that’s what friends are for.’’

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