March, the month most gardeners have been patiently waiting to arrive; it’s the month that spring officially arrives and a new gardening season begins. It’s also the month that daylight saving time begins, and this March it will occur on Sunday the 13th. Some of us may remember that daylight saving time used to begin the first Sunday in April and end the last Sunday in October. In 2005 Congress voted to extend daylight saving time as part of the Energy Policy Act. Today daylight saving time is officially the second Sunday in March through the first Sunday in November.
For thousands of years man has measured time; early on this was done using the sundial. Eventually, mechanical clocks began to appear. Cities would set their town clock based on the position of the sun, creating a slightly different time in every location.
The development of mass transportation, specifically the railroad, established standard time in time zones in order to maintain traveling schedules. The U.S. Railroad System adopted standard time on Nov. 18, 1883. The use of a standard time with time zones became increasingly popular as advances in communication and travel occurred. The U.S. government established standard time in time zones by passing the Standard Time Act of 1918.
Benjamin Franklin is credited with first conceiving the notion of daylight saving time. However, contrary to what it may sound like, daylight saving time is not about saving time. When we move our clocks forward in the spring we are actually moving an hour of daylight from the morning to the evening. The theory is that this will help save and conserve energy.
Daylight saving time is a concept that is used in more than 70 countries. It was first implemented here in the U.S. during World War I to conserve domestic use of fuel to support the war effort. During World War II, FDR enacted year-round daylight saving time to help conserve resources for the war. But, by the 1960s there was widespread chaos due to lack of a uniform implementation of daylight saving time. For example, in one year there were 23 different start and end dates for daylight saving time in Iowa alone. In a 35-mile stretch of West Virginia you would have to change your watch seven different times.
In 1966, out of this chaos came the Uniform Time Act, which standardized the start and end dates for daylight saving time. The act allowed individual states to remain on standard time if their legislatures warrant. Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not observe daylight saving time.
Over the years, there has been much research conducted on the pros and cons of daylight saving time. The general consensus is that by creating more daylight in the evening hours it definitely helps conserve energy. It has also been shown to help prevent traffic accidents and help prevent crime.
So, what does this have to do with gardening? Daylight saving time gives us the ability to put in an hour or two outside during the week after work, and enjoy more time in our gardens on the weekends. As a gardener, I appreciate the extra hour of sunshine in the evening that daylight saving time brings. Happy gardening.
Steve and Laurie Zimmerman have owned and operated Zimmerman’s Azalea Gardens and Landscaping in Adams County since 1992. Visit their website at www.zaglandscaping.com.