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Soil Temperature Guide

Many gardeners don't know when to plant their vegetables when spring arrives. We at ourveggiegarden.com use a soil thermometer to help us in this task. It is important to understand that it is the soil temperature – not the air temperature – that causes the seeds to germinate and start to become plants. But if you put your seeds in too soon and the soil is too cold, you will likely lose them or permanently stunt their growth. You can buy cheap thermometers just about anywhere but we decided to invest in a nice brass one that is specifically for soil readings. We have had it for a number of years now and is well worth the investment.

Insert the temperature end into the soil about two inches deep and let it sit for a minute – don't read it too soon. Write down the time, temperature and the location in the garden, as different locations will likely have different temperatures or so we have found. Consult the Germination Temperatures charts (shown below) or your local University Extension for the ideal temperature to plant your seeds. Seeds used to be cheap but now are getting more expensive, so err on the side of caution and don't plant too soon. It is also good to check soil temps once on the morning and once in the afternoon, to try to get a low/high reading. Finally, write down when you planted your seeds and the corresponding soil temperatures for future reference, as this can come in very handy later on.

Germination Temperature Charts
Cool Season
Vegetables

Minumum
Degrees

Optimum
Degrees

Maximum
Degrees

Beets
40
80
90
Broccoli
40
80
90
Cabbage
40
80
90
Carrots
40
80
90
Cauliflower
40
80
90
Kohlrabi
40
80
90
Leeks
40
80
90
Lettuce
35
70
70
Onions
35
80
90
Peas
40
70
90
Potatoes
45
Radish
40
80
90
Spinach
40
70
70
 
Warm Season
Vegetables

Minumum
Degrees

Optimum
Degrees

Maximum
Degrees

Beans
55
80
90
Corn
50
80
100
Cucumbers
60
90
100
Eggplant
60
80
90
Pepper
60
80
90
Tomato
50
80
100
Squash
60
90
100

Soil Temperature Map

Here is a link to current soil temperatures for WI & US: http://www.greencastonline.com/tools/soiltempmaps.aspx

 

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