Soil temperature and vegetable seed germination
the past, I've planted
crops a certain number of days before or after our traditional
But the more I think about it, the more the date-based approach feels
like eating your meals at set times with no wiggle room if you've been
chopping wood and are starving early or have been loafing around all
day and aren't really hungry at all. By planting seeds on set
dates, I'm trying to estimate times at which the soil temperature is
warm enough to let the seeds germinate and the air temperature is in
the right range to let the seeds grow well. So why not measure
soil temperature and plant seeds when I know it's warm enough?
To test your soil temperature, first calibrate your soil thermometer in a jar of ice water to check its accuracy. (The thermometer should read 32 degrees Fahrenheit.) Then stick the thermometer three to four inches into the soil first thing in the morning and read the temperature. If you don't have a soil thermometer, you can get a rough estimate of your soil temperature by looking at this soil temperature map.
If you're like me and are dying to put spring seeds in the ground as soon as possible, you can make the soil warm up more quickly by raking back your mulch, adding a thin layer of dark compost to the surface of the soil, laying down a sheet of black or clear plastic (although I don't like blocking off air to soil microorganisms), or building a cold frame or quick hoop. You should also be aware that the temperature of the upper layer of soil in your garden can change quite quickly --- a couple of degrees per day --- if a cold snap or warm spell hits your area, so even if the soil has reached 35, don't plant lettuce if an arctic blast is forecast for tomorrow.
While waiting for the soil to warm up, why not treat your chickens to a homemade chicken waterer that never spills or fills with poop?
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