J and I spent much of August traveling around the country to see friends and family. While I love spending time with people we don't get too see anywhere nearly enough, I was worried about how I was going to keep my plants watered (if you've been reading my blog this summer, you'll remember that I've been rocking my first ever balcony garden, playing mama to chives, basil, oregano, two tomato plants, and one teeny-tiny eggplant). One of the trips we took was a short little jaunt, about 48 hours in total. I didn't stress too much that weekend - a healthy watering before we left the house on Friday morning held everyone over until I got home on Sunday afternoon. But there were two other trips that lasted four days each - just a little too long for the plants to go without water. So for those two trips, I created what I think is a crazy easy slow-watering system that releases a pre-determined amount of water over the course of a few days!
Two words: ice cubes. Two more words: really big ice cubes. The night before we departed for each vacation, I filled quart-sized Ziplock baggies with water and stuck them in the freezer. I also filled up an ice cube tray with water and stuck that in the freezer. Right before we left for the airport the next day, I poked four minuscule holes in the bottom of each bag and placed one inside each plant. The chives and oregano got one ice cube each, the basil got two. And that was it! I returned each time to empty baggies and plants that were still alive. In need of a watering, yes, but nowhere near as bad as they would have been without the vacation-watering-system.
To poke the holes, I used one of those pointy metal turkey trussing lacers that came with a turkey-tying kit from last Thanksgiving, but if you don't happen to have those on hand, any sharp pointy object will do. It's also good to keep in mind the shape of your plants and the size of your planter. The first time I tried this slow-watering system, I kind of plopped the baggies in the freezer and didn't think about what shape they'd take once frozen. I ended up with four really large and misshapen orbs of ice that I had to pretty much shove into my planters. For the subsequent trip though, I set the bags in the freezer so that they were pressed up against each other, and used a flat box of veggie burgers to anchor the whole thing - the resulting blocks of ice fit so much better into the planters. While I wouldn't push this entire endeavor beyond four days (any longer and you're probably going to want to get a friend to stop by and water the plants in your absence), it is such a quick and easy way to keep your beloved little plants and herbs alive and kicking while you're on vacation :)