Dorrin K Mace, Horologost

Dorrin K Mace, Horologost
The Clock Man in a pensive moment

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Burpee Seed Clock

During the 1970's and 1980's, Burpee Seeds marketed a "Seed Planting Clock".  These clocks are attractive and useful and usually repairable.  When these are located, the operating manual (instructions) are missing for the most part.  I have provided instructions below in case one of my readers finds one of these clocks that is missing the instructions.

How to Set  a Burpee Seed Clock

1)   Unscrew the four screws from the back of the clock and remove the back. Install a "C" battery in the battery compartment and turn the switch to "Start."   Set the time on the clock to current time by rotating the set-wheel on the clock back to turn the clock's hands.*

2)   Set the calendar date on the clock to the current date, making sure the current month and date line up at the marker at the bottom of the calendar wheel in the clock face.  There is a saw-toothed wheel on the upper edge of the aluminum plate on the back of the clock--gently rotate it from right to left. It won't turn the other way.   This turns the calendar wheel on the front of the clock.

 3)  Look up current day's moon phase.  To set the moon dial, insert a sharpened pencil point carefully into the slot in the saw-toothed wheel to rotate the moon dial from left to right.   Move the wheel gently to prevent the calendar setting from moving accidentally.

 4)  Look up the last killing frost in spring and the first killing frost in fall for your area in a calendar or almanac or get the information from your local county agricultural extension service.   Set the length of the growing season with the two tabs under the bottom of the aluminum plate on the back of the clock. Move the tab with the green line so that the green line on the calendar on the front of the clock is set to the date of the last killing frost in spring in your area. Move the tab with the red line so that the red line on the calendar on the front of the clock is set to the date of the first killing frost in fall in your area. (You may want to add a week to the spring date and subtract a week from the fall date to account for changes in the weather to reduce risk to crops.)

5Replace the back of the clock and secure with the four screws.   The clock is now set and will run for a year on a fresh "C" battery.*   As the time turns the hands of the clock, the calendar will change accordingly, and planting instructions will appear according to the seasonal settings.   When the little pot appears, it's time to sow seeds indoors. When the two-leaved seedling appears, it's time to set plants in the garden.   When the long line with short lines on it appears, it's time to sow seeds directly in the garden. The color coded lists of plants at the bottom of the clock will correspond with the colored bands in the calendar section, letting you know when to plant different plants.

*Some of these clocks were manufactured with an electric movement,  thus these steps can be excluded


  1. I love this clock! Thanks to you I know how to set it up. I found one at Goodwill several days ago. All of the peices are there and it works great.

  2. Hi! I have acquired an electricburpee seed clock while out today. I cannot find instructions on setting it anywhere! Do you have the information I am looking for? Thank you so much.

  3. I just bought one of these amazing clocks for $20 at a garage sale! It didn't come with instructions so I'm so glad you posted this. I also found a number on the back of it that I imagine is the number of my clock of the total made. Do you know if that's what the number is? Mine is 00163. And do you know the total number made? Thanks!!!

  4. Dear Dorrin,
    I've owned my Burpee planting clock since the 1970s but now the motor seems to have stopped working. I checked that it's getting power, but it won't run. Do you know if it must be fixed by an horologist or if it's possible to replace the electric motor with another? Thank you.


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