Beyond My Garden Gate

June spells out preparing for celebrations for many of us. Typically it comes in the form of birthdays, graduations and weddings. This June is no exception for yours truly that included birthdays for two older grandchildren and graduation for the twins – the youngest of my grandchildren that live in Bend, OR. †

Refreshing mulch for new plantings

Preparations for leaving the ranch requires a bit of thought to plant and animal care before driving away for a few days. Fortunately, the neighboring rancher knows the critter needs here and tends to their every desire. The chickens are always very appreciative by laying fresh eggs to be consumed for my neighbor’s breakfast, and the dogs are great playmates for their dogs. The horses, donkeys and cats are another matter, but the time taken for tossing hay and checking on self feeders for the cats makes the job relatively simple.

Plant care when I leave is another issue! Especially those plants that await for more temperate weather before going into the open ground. The night before driving north to Bend, the temperatures dropped to 32 degrees here in Lassen County. Trouble occurred with in ground tomato plants experiencing a bit of frost bite. Starters yet to sink their roots into the soil found refuge in the greenhouse where the automatic drip sprays would keep them viable until my return. The weather report indicated a huge swing in the temperature range before returning in a few days. Freeze to roast could spell disaster!

Planning for the extreme temperature fluctuation could pose a problem if the Smart ET controller didn’t exist. This workhorse is set up to irrigate, or shut down based on current programmed conditions that can handle this type of variation if programmed correctly.

Backyard refuge

The parameters of smart controllers also offer the ability to shut down irrigation run times for upcoming events. These virtues came to mind as I watched a beautiful doe in my son’s back yard when arriving in Bend. The vision of this beautiful creature just gave birth to twin fawns earlier that morning and rested peacefully on the lawn – until the sprinklers came on! She took off like a shot until the irrigation was turned off. It was then she returned to tend to her babies while our discussion turned to setting the controller to the off position for the outdoor graduation party the next day.

Automatic controllers can play havoc for many a picnic as well! For example, every Fourth of July our town park picnics find us all scrambling for cover when the impact heads shower us and our belongings. Every year we foolishly believe the controller would bypass the Fourth of July and allow the party to remain uninterrupted! Clearly, a smart controller is not installed at the town park, or programming for an event day did not occur! And clearly those of us picnicking have very short memories!

Aside from saving events becoming watered down, Smart controllers are amazing water savers as they calculate the amount of water lost through water evaporating in the soil and plants transpiring – the combination known as evapo-transpiration. The smart controller is capable of replacing that exact amount of water loss back to the roots of plants if given a well designed irrigation system.

It would be wise to check into a smart controller if you are currently in the market for upgrading your irrigation system and interested in irrigation water savings. As for the results of my attempts of managing those left behind? The plants thrived despite the experienced heatwave upon my return thanks to that smart ET controller!

Have a great weekend!

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