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Garden guardians

You’ve spent years, literally, investing time and money in your garden. You’ve staked, pruned, weeded and irrigated. You’ve dug enough holes to find yourself halfway to China. And you’re going on vacation?

I once spent weeks growing seedlings from seed only to have them all dead when I came home. The sitter simply ignored them. Thankfully our daughter was fine.

Who do you trust to care about your investment as you would? The neighbor kid? There is a new service industry springing up which I think is the ultimate fail-safe. The garden sitter.

The garden sitter is paid to think like you would. What needs watering, cutting back, staking in case the wind blows up, covering in case a sudden Wyoming cold snap comes on. If you’ve nobody trustworthy to drag your hoses around like you would to ensure the vegetable garden has the water it needs to perform optimally, or on a rainy day to switch those sprinklers to the “off” position, consider the next step. Here is a list of the garden sitters responsibilities. What is it worth to you?

A Garden Sitter’s Guide

1. Draw a bird’s-eye view of your garden for your sitter, labeling the plants and pointing to those needing special care.

2. Walk the property with the sitter, and point out plants that might look like a weed but aren’t.

3. Show novices how to water properly, from where to set up sprinklers to how long to water.

4. Make a to-do list. Be very clear about what you expect. Write down the details, no sitter will remember everything.

5. If you’ll be away for less than two weeks, you’ll likely need only watering. Move containers into the shade, and group pots according to their water needs, (Most sitters won’t go in your house.) If you’ll be gone for a month, the sitter should weed and deadhead. For longer absences, hire a professional landscaping company, and be prepared to pay more.

6. Give the sitter a key to all storage areas, and point out hoses and shut-off valves.

7. If you have a sprinkler system, give the sitter the installer’s contact information, as well as your own. Assign a backup decision maker too, in case you’re unreachable while away. Good luck.

 

A Gift From The Garden

If you are lucky enough to have a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer, you’ll surely want to share.

Instead of tossing some in a paper bag, put them in a basket with pasta and the basic ingredients for a traditional sauce: olive oil, fresh basil, garlic and a wedge of Parmesan. It’s a great thank-you gift for a hostess or a back-to-school present for a teacher.

 

Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for more than 20 years and is an advanced master gardener.

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