It is the good old summertime making you long for the beach or some far away place to enjoy for a week or two. However the beautiful garden that you are admiring in your backyard, which represents weeks of painstaking labor, is not going to enjoy your adventure in the heat of the summer. Weeds could become a problem choking your plants, the plants themselves could experience burn out with a small drought occurring on your vacation and certainly container gardening is no friend of little attention for a week or two.
As well as you plan your vacation, you must plan your gardens survival while basking in the sun at some wonderful resort. First check the weather forecast for as far in advance for the time you are gone. This will give you some idea if a lot of water in the form of rain is expected or that summer dry spell will have a grip on your garden. I being a skeptic of long term weather forecasts would plan in both directions. First find a neighbor or close by relative to keep a watchful eye on the weather especially if your neighbor is a also a gardener. I employ my daughter who just plain hates me when we go on vacation. It is a good idea to have cultivated a relationship with someone before you engage in this big favor.
The second good approach would be to soak the garden overnight and not turn off the system until you are ready to leave. If you don't have a watering or soaking system than I guess you had better start earlier in the evening. If you have not already done so apply a good mulch from your local nursery to your plants and even if the weather forecast is telling you there will not be lots of rain, apply slug control around your plants. The unpleasant return not only includes dried up plants but wet ones with lots of holes.
In the vegetable garden pick as many ready or near ready vegetables as you can possibly identify. Leaving these items on the vine will result in the loss of lots of good vegetables but can also provide the attraction of lots of pests. Get those half ripe tomatoes inside and park them in an a spot at room temperature. I would advise against the refrigerator or any sunny location. The same goes for your cucumbers or beans they are just as good in a small state as in the world of giant vegetables. You really have to watch those beans because some beans if let to grow, will result in seeds and definitely stop the plant from production.
In container gardening if you can't find a relative, like a daughter who will do it reluctantly or a neighbor with a good enough memory without making long distance calls, then resort to grouping. You gather all of your containers into a shady spot put them close together to conserve moisture. Then I would apply at least two inches of mulch to the top of the containers and give these precious commodities a good soaking prior to departure. It is actually best if you can get a friend to “babysit" with your containers until you return from your vacation.
It would be best to once again check your garden for insects or diseases The flowerbeds should be deadheaded wherever necessary and do thoroughly weed the garden before saying goodbye. The other no-no is never overfertilize your plants. Some people think that more fertilizer will charge them up and keep them happy. However what happens is that the plants are stimulated by the fertilizer and require more water than before you applied the additional growth factor. After all this preparation you may still lose a few plants but they are replaceable unless you have the last heirloom plant of your great-great grandmother. A garden should never ruin a well deserved vacation but if you do dwell on it maybe next time you should reconsider and just garden.
This gardener has been gardening for over twenty years and has decided to use his empirical data as well as researched information to assist beginners as well as old timers in their garden pursuits. My web site can be found at http://www.gardenersgardening.com