garden thermometer

ClareBroommaker's picture

Do you have any thermometers specifically for your garden endeavors? A soil thermometer to judge whether seeds or sensitive roots can go in? A green house thermometer? Cold/hot frame thermometer? Compost thermometer?

I just use a thermometer from the kitchen-- a dairy thermometer because it reads low enough for outdoor things.

The last I used a thermometer was for my recently picked winter squash curing under a poly tunnel. I really don't need one, but it is nice to have every now and then.

Actually, where I probably ought to use one is in spring when starting seeds in small plastic containers. Whoa, those poor seedlings' soil can get really hot, especially when in black plastic. If I kept a thermometer in with a plant or two, maybe I'd treat them a little better....I remember doing an experiment in a biology lab where we measured the water uptake of a plant over just a few minutes and I was so impressed that I got a lot better at not letting plants go dry. If I were to measure the temp of the soil in the little punnets and pots, maybe I'd be shaken awake and get them into bigger pots or into real soil sooner.

David Trammel's picture

Yeah temperature is one of those variables I've not been following in the garden, along with weather and rainfall, lol, but that I need to.

I'm also going to need to figure out a way to make some self opening vent windows. I'm putting a lean to green house onto the south side of the workshop/storage shed going into the backyard. I feel I'll need to regulate the temperature in there since I want to use it for seed starting early in the Spring.

lathechuck's picture

I've killed more seedlings from heat than from cold. Even with good ventilation, a cold frame in strong spring sunshine can get very warm, and the plants very dry in just a few hours. I'm not sure that a thermometer is worth the trouble, though. If your plants are threatened with freezing, take action; if they're threatened with baking (> 80F), take action. In between, just give them plenty of fresh air and sunshine. It took me a few years to realize that 40-60 may be uncomfortably cool for me, but most plants don't care. (Tomatoes and peppers may need to stay above 50, though, and there are other exceptions, I'm sure.)

Your comment about tomatoes reminded me of this.
Years, and I mean years ago, I saw a newspaper (?) piece about overwintering and hardening tomato seedlings that was almost foolproof. I didn't try it myself but I know that tomato seeds overwinter beautifully because I always have a bumper crop of tiny cherry tomatoes every year all over the place. Over time, hybrid seeds revert back to tiny, acidic cherrys.

IIRC, the writer used empty, well-washed gallon milk-jugs. They cut enough of the top off to put in a few inches of soil and then scattered tomato seeds. Set out in the garden, out of the way. No special protection. In the spring, when the seedlings sprout, transplant and away you go.

I have no idea if this would work but someone out there is doing it right now. You may want to try this for your tomatoes and report back to us.