• Time Tracking in the Garden

    by  • August 23, 2011 • Garden, Summer • 5 Comments

    Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.

    Jane Austen

    Sometimes it can be so enjoyable to have unlimited time to wander and putter and work on projects in the garden, but if I’m short of time, I set a timer.

    Resting with Maggie

    Losing track of time with Maggie

    Bringing a timer into the garden can work, especially when you’re busy, or absentminded. Setting a sprinkler on a timer can really save water and when you see the sprinkler go off you know you’re done. One gardener, this gardener, one time left a guest to wander in her driveway waiting and wondering, while she was merrily weeding away in the garden.  She had to phone me!

    If you time yourself, it can also prevent physical strain, fatigue and sunburn. When you enjoy gardening, you can lose track of time outdoors, so here are a few things you can do:

    Use your kitchen timer.
    This is good for doing a bit of puttering before I have an appointment or before guests arrive. If your garden is large, have someone indoors tell you when it goes off.

    Get a hose timer.
    Manual hose timers screw onto your faucet and it easy to give it a crank and know you can forget about it. As I work around the garden I know when it’s time to come in when I hear the water go off.

    Use your cell phone alarm.
    As I get into bigger jobs around the yard or want to prevent overdoing, I set my cell phone timer for an hour at a time and then take a break. If your mp3 player has a timer you can enjoy music at the same time.

    Install a drip system or sprinkler system with a programmable timer.
    Short of having an expert install a sprinkler system, there are a few things I use to automate my watering. One is a manual timer that you set to come on at regular intervals. If you want it to go on at 7am, you set it at 7am. From then on it will go on for the time you set, 10 minutes to 1 hour. If you set your system to go off at a certain time in the morning, it can be a wonderful cool wake up call.

    Drip timers This kind is set for the time you want them on, for me 6am for an hour with most drippers one gallon per hour

    Drip timers This kind is set for the time you want them on, for me 6am for an hour with most drippers one gallon per hour

    All these timers and drip systems are available at regular hardware stores, like True Value. Two  sources for drip systems are Capitol Pipe in Oakhurst and Goodwin Lumber in North Fork.

    Time is important when watering especially in Madera County.
    There is a water conservation program in force between May 1 and October 31 for those without wells. Many communities with water issues have these regulations which are a challenge to gardeners. Now that the really hot days are here, it becomes more important:

     1. No outdoor water use between 12:00 noon and 5:00 p.m.
    2. Even number addresses water on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
    3. Odd number addresses water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
    4. Any address may water on Sunday during watering hours.

    “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”
    – Michael Althsuler



    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    5 Responses to Time Tracking in the Garden

    1. August 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      I have been absent-minded with irrigation in the past. Our drip lines are in, but until the greenhouse is up it’s not all ‘automatic’ yet. I agree timers are helpful. If I’ve left water on too long before, so I try to at least set the microwave timer if I’m coming in the house for a while. I really should just tote around a kitchen timer though. I’m always mortified if I discover I left the water on too long…and it’s just so gosh darned easy to get distracted in the garden!

    2. August 26, 2011 at 11:33 am

      I always lose track of time when I’m in the garden! I hardly ever wear my watch anywhere these days and find it a hassle to carry a phone around with me in the garden. We do have timers on our hoses and automatic sprinkler system, thankfully, else I’d probably forget to turn them off.

    3. August 26, 2011 at 11:35 am

      Oh, I LOVED the photograph of sweet Maggie and your lower legs 😉 The picture of your garden being watered…just lovely, too!

    4. August 26, 2011 at 11:08 pm

      Now that AARP has learned my address I rely all the time on a timer app I got for my smartphone. It’s original design is as a pill reminder timer, but I’ve reset it so that it beeps every X minutes when I’m doing a garden task. I use it all the time, mostly for watering. It frees up my brain for important things, like remembering to eat lunch.

    5. September 4, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      Claire, it’s so easy to lose track of time in the garden, I’ve taken to setting the stove timer whenever I put a sprinkler on. Love your greenhouse project!

      Desiree, I don’t wear a watch, either, someone always has one when you need it. Since starting this blog I’ve had occasion to take the wackiest photos, before this I only took a few of the garden and rarely ‘off season’. Sure is recorded now!

      Hi James, lol! I hope it’s a loooong time before you need the alarm for the purpose intended! When gardening, it’s easy to forget about food,…so many times after puttering around the garden, I’ve come in ravenous.

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