Since Nigel came along, we only needed someone to come over every other day to check on the chickens and grab the mail. A chicken-sitter was surprisingly easy to find. I guess the fresh eggs are totally worth it.
To keep my indoor plants alive without creating additional work for the chicken-sitter, I decided to try something I saw on the Craft Magazine blog a while ago. It's a simple house plant wicking system involving a bowl of water and some strips of cotton. (Full instructions at the link.) The whole thing took about 10 minutes to set up.
Here are my plants the day we left on our trip.
And here they are 9 days later, when we arrived home.
The houseplants look just as green and healthy, if not more so, than they did when we left. The strips of cotton--in this case cut from an old undershirt--wicked the water out of the bowl and kept the plants' soil evenly moist.
The large bowl seems to have just lasted the 9 days in a relatively cool house. I am guessing that in the summer the water might go a little more quickly. Still, I recommend this method for the next time you go on vacation. It's much nicer than coming home to dead or dried-out plants.