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How To Measure Soil Temperature To Help Ensure A Successful Garden

How To Measure Soil Temperature To Help Ensure A Successful Garden

9th Jan 2019

Gardening is a labor of love. If you’ve been doing it for years, you know that sentiment is true. If you’re a beginner, you might not think so yet, especially if you’ve experienced some ups and downs while trying to get your plants growing. Luckily, it can be quite simple to start your garden off on the right foot — and it all starts with the soil. On top of testing your soil's pH level, always make sure your soil temperature is within the right range to kickstart your plants' germination.

Why Measure Soil Temperature?

Soil temperature sends a major signal to all plants: winter is over and it's time to grow. Each plant begins its germination, or development, at a different temperature. For example, vegetables like lettuce and spinach can germinate at cool temperatures of

40° F, while beans can germinate in soil as warm as 95° F. Planting your seeds at the proper soil temperature will help them start growing and, hopefully, become mature enough to weather the cold winter months.

In addition to ensuring proper plant growth, certain lawn and garden treatments do their jobs better at certain temperatures. If you have issues with crabgrass, for example, you should test your soil for temperatures of at least 55° F for 4-5 days in a row. Crabgrass treatments work most effectively when the soil temperature is 55 degrees or higher. Just like germination, every lawn and garden treatment does its job best at different temperatures.

How To Measure Soil Temperature

Before you begin testing, consider what kind of garden you'll be planting: will you be planting shrubs or a mixed vegetable garden? You also need to test the soil at the recommended planting depth for your plants, since soil is generally cooler the deeper you go. If you are creating a mixed garden, check around 5-6 inches deep at various points throughout your planting area. To properly measure your soil temperature, follow these steps:

  • Use a screwdriver to create a "pilot hole" for your soil thermometer.
  • Check your soil thermometer's instructions to determine how long you should keep it in place.
  • Allow your soil thermometer to stay in place for the indicated amount of time for an accurate reading.
  • If the sun is bright or hot, shade the thermometer with your hand while it's inserted to keep your results from being skewed.
  • Take soil temperature at multiple times during the day in each specific place you plan to plant or apply a treatment for best results.

If you live in a colder climate where the soil takes a longer time to reach optimum germination periods, don't worry: there are "practical" temperatures when you can plant your garden as well. While your plants might not germinate as quickly as they would at the optimum temperature, planting at a lower, more realistic temperature will give them the time they need to germinate and mature before frost returns again. This trick also works for hotter climates, allowing gardeners to plant early so their plants are hardy enough to take the heat of midsummer.

Find Soil Thermometers & More At Certified MTP

Certified Material Testing Products carries soil testing equipment for any job, so whether you need soil thermometers to test soil temperature in your garden or density testing equipment for a construction site, we have you covered. Find the soil testing equipment you need and so much more in our wide selection of material testing products today.