• Time Tracking in the Garden

    by  • August 23, 2011 • Garden, Summer

    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.