At the May, 2010, meeting of the Houston Rose Society it was pointed out that several consulting rosarians have switched over to daily watering of their roses. Because most of these rosarians use Dramm nozzle water systems (which put out a lot of water), they run their systems for three to five minutes per station each day. All of the higher-end irrigation systems feature timers that are capable of delivering such short bursts of water.
Those of us without the sophisticated timers were unable to duplicate this program. At least in the past.
Now, there is a new timer by Nelson that attaches to a hose bib and allows anyone to employ this regime.
It is Nelson Model 56605. The former version of this timer had nine settings. You could set it to go off for 15, 30 or 60 minutes either once a day, twice a day or every other day. I just ordered a Model 56605 from Amazon.com and they partnered with Mastergardening.com to send me the newest version. Its official description is the Nelson 56605 Nine Pre-Set Watering Cycles Electronic Water Timer. The new Model 56605 has eighteen settings. It has the old settings plus nine more. They are for 1, 2 and 5 minutes. You can still set the timer to go off once a day, twice a day or every other day.
A wonderful thing about the 56605 is that it is mostly an analog timer when it comes to programming it. The clock is digital, but it is easy to set by rotating the big dial on the front of the timer. You move the dial to “Time Set” and punch either the “plus” or “minus” button until you get to the time you want. The 56605 is designed to go off at 6:00 a.m. (and at 6:00 p.m. on the twice a day setting). If you want the timer to go off at a different time, it is a simple matter of setting the time for the wrong hour. For example, if you want the timer to go off at 7:00 a.m. Houston time, simply set the time for one hour ahead of “real time.” If you want the timer to go off at 5:00 a.m., simply set the time for one hour before real time.
The best thing about this timer is its rotating dial. With some timers, you have to get out the instruction manual to change a setting (assuming you can even find those instructions). With the 56605 you simply rotate the dial to the desired setting. If you want to water continuously, simply rotate the timer to “on.” When you are finished, rotate the dial back to your once, twice or every other day setting and you are back in business. All the options are clearly marked in weather-proof letters and numbers that you can read without a magnifying glass. To switch between the 1, 2 and 5 minutes mode and the 15, 30 and 60 minute mode, just rotate the dial to “Mode” and push the “plus” or “minus” buttons to toggle between the modes.
This is my current favorite timer. I have several. The timer runs on two AA batteries, which last about a year. I put fresh ones in each spring.
I have two warnings about the 56605. First, do not leave the timer outside in freezing weather. Water inside the timer will freeze and break the timer. I know this from personal experience. Second, the timer is designed to go on a hose bib, not on the ground. If you lay the 56605 directly on the ground, and we get one of our several inch rains, the timer may stop working if it is under water for too long. The easy solution is to put the timer on top of a couple of bricks if you are using it somewhere other than on a hose bib. This elevation eliminates the problem. By the way, I have had no problems with the timer on a hose bib, even if it has rained all day. It was only when submerged in water that it failed.
Give the Model 56605 a try. It gives you great flexibility in your watering options, and is really easy to set. It is a giant step forward for those of us employing DIY irrigation systems.
[Note: This article originally appeared in the June, 2010, edition of the The Rose-Ette, the monthly newsletter of the Houston Rose Society.]
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