The Timer Is My Most Important Garden Tool

garden timer, garden hose timerWrapping up my first full year of serious gardening, there’s one garden tool that stands out as the most important. Trowels and gardening gloves, sure, but what really changed my garden for the better this season was automation! I used two timers through this season and they completely changed me from an angsty gardener to a successful one.

Grow Lights On A Timer. First, I used a timer on my grow lights as I was starting seeds for my vegetables and flowers. I used the Digital 7-Day Timer from HydroFarm. It was great. The grow light setup is in our basement, so there was no running up and down both morning and night to turn on and off the lights. Or forgetting to run up and down the stairs to turn on and off the lights. I almost certainly would have messed up my first time using grow lights if I didn’t have the timer, either burning plants up or forgetting to turn the lights on.

I set this timer to turn on at 8 am and off at 8 pm. This timer has two outlets, so I was able to use it for both the lights and a small fan I used to get air circulating around the seedlings. With the timer, I was able to grow strong, bushy, healthy seedlings, which I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Irrigation On A Timer. Watering plants. It sounds like the easiest task. But again, you have to remember to do it. And even then, you need to do it properly. I am the self-proclaimed underwaterer, so you can imagine how I felt when I realized I could put irrigation on a timer, too.

In this year’s vegetable garden, I’m using overhead irrigation — a tripod sprinkler like this one. I know this isn’t ideal for a vegetable garden, but it’s what I had to work with this season. I’m using the Orbit single dial water timer. The first day, we set the timer for the water to run for 15 minutes. After a few days, we realized we needed more water, so we increased the time to 30 minutes. Now it runs every day before I’m even out of bed.

Here’s how watering my plants used to go: I wake up in the morning late for work, run out the door without watering anything. I promise that I will water as soon as I get home from work. Then when I get home, dinner and dishes later, I remember the rule that you shouldn’t water at night. This is a good formula for crispy plants.

That’s all over now with this simple addition. Drip irrigation will be the upgrade for next year. And maybe timers that I can control with my smart phone? Is that a thing yet?

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