Getting ready for your holiday
When we are off on our annual trip to the seaside with our buckets and spades we leave our potted plants and greenhouses to get on with it or ask a neighbour to look after our prized plants. The only problem with this is they will never look after them as well as you.
The answer is some sort of watering system. This can be a simple system or an all singing, all dancing automatic system. In the greenhouse we should also think about ventilation. This is quite easy by fitting automatic vent openers. These work by simply opening the vents as the temperature rises.
Now watering, this is a different matter. Starting with low tech systems, you can buy gadgets that are screwed into the top of a plastic drinks bottle then placed upside down in the pot and the water gradually trickles out.
Then a step up from this, if you have a few pot plants get a flat grow bag tray or similar and line the base with capillary matting fluffy side up. Put pot plants in plastic pots on the matting, making sure there is contact between the compost in the pots and the capillary matting. Then put the tray on a flat surface with a slight slope down to one end and place a trough that will act as a water reservoir at the higher end slightly higher than the tray. Fill the trough with water and take another piece /strip of matting, place in the water and over the side of the trough and under the matting on the tray, this will act as a wick and slowly draw the water out of the trough and into the tray watering the plants on the matting. All you need to do is keep the trough topped up but you should set this up a few weeks before going away. If the plants are too wet reduce the slope of the tray, if too dry increase the slope.
Finally you can get an all singing all dancing automatic system connected to the mains with timers that will turn the water on and off for a timed period as well as more than once a day or not every day. You can get drippers or sprays that will water individual plants and with different amounts of water. As with any system you will need to take time to set up the system. Don’t install a system and then go on holiday for two weeks because if you don’t test it you may come back and find your plants have not been watered sufficiently and have all died. The alternative is for the plants to be watered continually and get flooded.This happened at a certain school that purchased an automatic system to water a willow tunnel on the last day of term. No one came to keep an eye on it, the result was the water stayed on for six weeks continually. The willow did very well but someone was lumbered with a massive water bill.